Thursday, March 8, 2007

Change of Heart

March 8, 1812: . . . because there was another earthquake shock last night, Mother Vann [mother-in-law of Peggy Vann] talked with us another time about this occurrence; . . . she told us that new lies are being broadcast among the Nation. Namely, that it has been revealed to one Indian by God that there would be an intense darkness and that it would last three days; during which all the white people would be snatched away as well as all Indians who had any clothing or household articles of the white man’s kind, together with all their cattle. Therefore, they should put aside everything that is similar to the white people and that which they had learned from them, so that in the darkness God might not mistake them and snatch them away with the former. He who does not believe this will die at once together with all his stock. This had already happened to one Indian. Mother Vann added that in fact many are already doing away with their household articles and clothing, but she had offered to buy one item or another from them just to show them that she did not pay any attention to the lies.

We see only too clearly for what this evil enemy is aiming: this cunning spirit does not mean in any way the outward garb of the poor heathen but their change of heart. He wants to warn them against the teaching of the white people of Jesus, the crucified, their only rightful Lord and Master, in order that he might keep them securely fettered in his chains. We find for that reason much need to plead very urgently to our good Lord that He might destroy very soon this new strategem of the Devil and in general his work in this land.

In addition, the false prophets pretend to have seen ugly and terrifying appearances of God. Johnston [a pupil at the mission school] said that in his neighborhood there was also the talk that a new earth would come into being in the Spring, but he did not pay attention to their absurd talking and was glad that he had heard the truth here and knew now what to believe.
- 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.

Mother Vann may have been referring to Tecumseh, a Shawnee. Starting around 1806, he gradually transformed his brother's religious following into a political movement. In an effort to form an Indian Confederacy, he traveled from the Ozarks to New York and from Iowa to Florida, attracting supporters of his vision. These words are attributed to Tecumseh:

When Jesus Christ came upon the Earth, you killed Him. The son of your own God. And only after He was dead did you worship Him and start killing those who would not.

Then listen to the voice of duty, of honor, of nature and of your endangered country. Let us form one body, one head, and defend to the last warrior, our country, our homes, our liberty, and the graves of our fathers.

The way to stop this evil is for all redmen to unite in claiming a common and equal right to the land, never to be divided... it belongs to all of us for each use.

So live your life that the fear of death can never enter your heart. Trouble no one about their religion; respect others in their view, and Demand that they respect yours. Love your life, perfect your life, Beautify all things in your life. Seek to make your life long and Its purpose in the service of your people.

Prepare a noble death song for the day when you go over the great divide. Always give a word or a sign of salute when meeting or passing a friend, Even a stranger, when in a lonely place. Show respect to all people and Bow to none. When you arise in the morning, give thanks for the food and For the joy of living. If you see no reason for giving thanks, The fault lies only in yourself. Abuse no one and nothing, For abuse turns the wise ones to fools and robs the spirit of its vision.

When it comes your time to die, be not like those whose hearts Are filled with fear of death, so that when their time comes They weep and pray for a little more time to live their lives over again In a different way. Sing your death song and die like a hero going home.
- Tecumseh

During the War of 1812, on October 5, 1813 Tecumseh died at the hands of American forces in Ontario, Canada.

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