Saturday, February 17, 2007

Shoeboot and Big Bear

February 17, 1812: The Shoeboot [Chulioa], confessed his perplexity in regard to the unusual earthquakes here in the land and said in a very emphatic way that many Indians believe that the white people were responsible because they had already taken possession of so much of the Indian land and wanted still more. God was angry because of that and He wanted to put an end to it through the earthquakes. This much was believed by all the Indians that God was causing the earthquakes. We then let our understanding be told and asked them to pray very diligently the publican’s prayer, "God be merciful to me, a sinner."

In reply, the other one, called Big Bear, said, "I should also like to tell something as I should like to know what you think about it. Soon after the earth had trembled so for the first time, an Indian was sitting in his house in deep thought, and his children were lying sick in front of the fire. At that point a tall man, clothed entirely in the foliage of the trees, with a wreath of the same foliage on his head, who was carrying a small child in his arm and had a larger child by the hand, said to him, ‘The small child on his [my] arm is God. I am not able to tell you now whether God will soon destroy the earth or not. But God is not pleased that the Indians have sold so much land to the white people. Tugalo, which is now possessed by white people, is the first place which God created. There in a hill he placed the first fire, for all fire comes from God.

Now the white people have built a house on that hill. They should abandon the place; on that hill there should be grass growing, only then will there be peace. And the Indians no longer thank God before they enjoy first fruits of the land. They are no longer organizing, as was formerly the custom, dances in his honor before they eat the first pumpkins, etc. Furthermore,’ the messenger said to the Indian, ‘You are sad because you think your children are ill; they are really not ill, but have only taken in a little dust.’ Thereupon he gave him two small pieces of bark from a certain tree, which he also named, and told him to cook them and to give the drink to his children, and from that they became well right then. He then also told him about other remedies for use during illnesses and at the end he said he would now take God back home."

During this silly narration, the Indian looked so solemn as if he were really proclaiming God’s will and word. We told him that we are no judges of such visions nor do we get involved in such things. We adhere to God’s word and in that his will is clear. It is good to thank God for his gifts, but we wish with all our hearts that the poor Indians might really learn to know Him in his great love and might honor and love Him truly. "That is well said," said Big Bear. "Yes," said Shoeboot, "The white people know God from the Book and we, from other things." He said further, "I love you; I have never heard anything bad about you. But there are also very bad white people." In which we agreed with him.

From the Springplace Diaries. Springplace was a Moravian mission located in Cherokee territory just west of the present day town of Chatsworth, GA. The New Madrid Earthquake of December 1811 was felt in this region, and interpreted by some Native Americans as a message from God.

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