- Oct 18, 2010 1:33 pm
Greetings from Chicaza!
To those of you who are new, I am Black Shell, of the Chief Clan, of the Hickory moiety, of the Chicaza People. Oh, and yes, there is that bit about being akeohoosa. That means exiled, dead to one’s relatives. It’s a small problem, and only will become a big one if I ever get back to my people. Meanwhile, through her own machinations, Pearl Hand managed to have me declared a High Micco in the Cofitachequi Nation.
What’s a High Micco? That’s Mos’kogee speak which best translates as god-king. Not high chief as these English speakers interpreted it back in the early Colonial days. It didn’t argue for either long life or safety of limb to even hint that any king existed but the one back on his throne in England. Chief was a nice, safe, way of saying “leader” without offending old “you know who.” Those of us from the First Nations have been thought of as second-hand ever since. Fact is, we had more nobles, clans, moieties, phratries, lineages, priests, war ranks, speaker classes, and even official weathermen than the Europeans.
And then there’s the language thing! Have any of you read the Amazon reader’s reviews? One of the critiques of COMING OF THE STORM is that neither Pearl Hand, myself, or the Timucua speak in “Tonto talk.” You know, “How! You white man. Me take’um Chicaza! Ug!”
The fact is that our languages were every bit as complex as English–or more so. Many had cases, tenses, and declensions that are too sophisticated for comprehension in the English language. For example, when the French Jesuits attempted to learn Huron, a language related to Cherokee, they encountered a future, past, to future verb tense. Try and put that in a Latin framework!
Now, what really irritates me… Okay, besides that foul De Soto and his murdering Kristianos. We know he’s a bad guy. But when I hear people say that we didn’t speak with as much grace, sophistication, and elegance as the White man? Pus and blood! Many of our peoples had to learn two languages. Two. The first was normal everyday speech. The second was the formal, sacred, tongue used only at ceremonies and ritual meetings. Language was treated as an art, and a superb orator was a prized and respected resource.
The upshot is, when we’re speaking in our own tongue, it’s with a poetic grace and eloquence that simply can’t be reproduced in English. Mike and Kathy tried to get that across in COMING OF THE STORM and the upcoming FIRE THE SKY. But, if you make Indian speech too flowery, Americans won’t enjoy reading it!
Hey, Jennifer, the editor, made Mike and Kathy redo the whole section on introductions among the Apalachee in FIRE THE SKY. She said it was boring and slowed the story. By the Piasa’s balls, she should have been there. I was asleep on my feet. At least until that scary priest, Back-From-the-Dead walked into the room!
But then, you’ll have to read FIRE THE SKY to get that story out of me.
Until next time, be well!