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W. P. A. History of Pontotoc County, Mississippi

Chapter V:   Indians

Prominent Indians of the Past

WOLF'S FRIEND was head man of the nation.  (1)  Bartram said:  "The chief or king is acknowledged to be the first and greatest man in the tribe, honored with every due and rational mark of love and esteem, and when presiding in council, with a humility and homage as reverent as that paid to the most despotic monarch in Europe or the East.  When absent, his seat is not filled by any other person.  Yet he is not dreaded; and when out of the council, he associated with the people as a common man; conversed with them, and they with him, in perfect ease and familiarity.

"No one will tell you how or when he became their king, but he is universally acknowledged to be the greatest person among them.  His dress is the same, and a stranger could not distinguish the king's habitation from that of any other citizen by any sort of splendor.  He seems to be the representative of Providence, or the Great Spirit, whom they acknowledge to preside over and influence their councils and public gatherings.

"The most active part the Mingo takes is in the civil government of the towns of tribes; here, he has the power of calling a council to deliberate peace and war, or all public concerns; he has not the least shadow of exclusively executive power."

That Wolf's Friend met the advance of the whites in a friendly manner is asserted in this excerpt from Bullen's Journal:

"Had this morning, by M'Gee's help, a good long talk with Wolf's Friend, head man of this nation.  Informed him of the creation and how all men are brothers - - of sin, of redemption, of the promise to all nations, of the great love the council at New York have for the Chickasaws, and of the good will of his great father, the President, expressed in a letter from the Secretary at War.  He looked pleased, said it made him very glad to hear these things; that he wished to hear more". (2)

Two days later McGee, the interpreter, and Rev. Bullen were invited to done in the home of Wolf's Friend, who received them very politely.  During a later visit in this home, July 8, 1799, Wolf's Friend received him "with many professions of love in which he appears sincere".  He offered to let his two youngest boys live with Rev. Bullen and "learn good things". (3)

The next man in order of dignity and power is the great WAR CHIEF who represents the Mingo in his absence, in council; his voice is of the greatest might in military affairs; his power is entirely independent of the Mingo, though when a Mingo goes on an expedition, he heads the army, and is their war chief".  (4)

"The ancient HIGH PRIEST, a seer, presides in spiritual affairs, and is a person of consequence; he maintains great influence in the state, particularly in military affairs; the senate never determines on an expedition against their enemy without his counsel and assistance.  These people generally believe that their seer has communion with powerful invisible spirits, and that he can predict the result of an expedition.  They foretell rain or drought and pretend to bring rain at pleasure, to cure diseases and exercise witchcraft, and they even assume the power of directing thunder and lighting".  (5)

"We believe there are four beloved things above:  the clouds, the sun, the clear sky and He that lives in the clear sky".  They never went to war or engaged in any great undertaking until after feasting and prayer and elaborate religious ceremonies.  (6)

Rev. Bullen describes his first "great national talk", which had been planned and anticipated for many weeks:

"Find everything prepared for the talk.  A large parade, a standard erected 30 feet high, a white cloth flying in token, (M'Gee says) of love and peace.  The Indians are just coming together.  It is a clear, hot day.  An agreeable shade and seats were fixed for the head men.  I was seated next to the principal chief, and the interpreter on the other side.  They were dressed neat and clean, and most of them very fine.  I began with reading a letter from Captain Pike, announcing the safe arrival of their presents at the Bluffs.  I then added that I was glad their presents were come; hoped they would do them good, and brighten the friendship between the two nations.  Then told them I had yet better news to tell them; that I had come to bring them the Word of Life.  Read to them the letters of the Missionary Society, and from the heads of departments.  Explained to them the benefits of learning; informed them that the Great Father had given white people the knowledge of 26 characters; that knowing these, when they look in one book they can see how they can have the Great Father above to be their friend, do them good, and keep them in the right way.

"After consulting among themselves, and a good talk to them from their head man, I was informed they were very glad to hear these things; were thankful to the council of New York for their love to them - a people they had never seen - and to me and my son that we had come such a long journey  to teach them good things; that we were received as their own people; they would have me bring my wife and children, and come and live with them; that the land is before me, to settle where I please; but that if I had come from the adjacent states I should not have been received.  But now they would have me do whatever I think best to make their people know good things; that we may depend on kind treatment.  After the talks we all partook of a plentiful repast, provided at the expense of  the Wolf's Friend".(7)

(1) Rev. Joseph Bullen's Journal, June 1799.

(2) Bullen's Journal, June 23, 1799

(3) Bullen's Journal, June 26, 1799

(4) Ibid, July 8, 1799

(5) Bartram

(6) Paustoobee to John Wesley in 1736

(7) Rev. Joseph Bullen's Journal, June 27, 1799


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