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Talgayeeta

Here is another poem from my chapbook “America: Tales of Atrocity and Near Escape”. He was another great American that no one has ever heard of. Greatly influenced by the Quakers in Pennsylvania he was a peace and freedom loving guy who left the Iroquois country for Ohio to start the Mingos. Mingos were a tribe of Indians from several different tribes who came together in a voluntary mutual association. Unfortunately the Whites had invaded the hunting lands of the Shawnee and others (Kentucky) and when the Shawnee struck a militia was formed for retaliation and they took it out on the peaceful Mingos. Again my thanks to Alan Eckhart for his great histories of the struggle for the Midwest.

Talgayeeta was the son of a chief

Of the people called the Cayuga

They were a warlike nation

In the Iroquois Confederation

But Talgayeeta had found a better way

When the French and British fought

He wouldn’t go to war

He made peace where ever he was able

All the peoples of the tribes

And the white folks too

Were all welcome to his table

Talgayeeta, son of Shikelelemus

Talgayeeta, called by some Logan

Talgayeeta, taught to be a man of peace

But were the whites gonna let him be?

He left his tribe to move to the West

The land from which the wind blows

He started a new tribe where everyone was chief

And they called themselves the Mingos

Now Mingo means chief

And each was their own

It was homegrown Anarchy

And peace that were sown

Talgayeeta, called by some Logan

Talgayeeta, left the Susquhana

Talgayeeta, strove to be a man of peace

Talgayeeta, but where the whites gonna let him be?

Talgayeeta was away on a hunt

When the Kentucky Militia arrived

Welcomed as friends they turned on their hosts

And not a Mingo in the village survived

When Talgayeeta returned from his hunt

And saw what the white men had done

He pulled out his hatchet and cried out for vengeance

And swore he would kill a dozen for one

Talgayeeta, buried his unborn nephew

Talgayeeta, buried his whole family

Talgayeeta, lived to be a man of peace

But the whites wouldn’t let him be.

So the man of peace picked up the sword

And he led off the Mingos to war

He took a dozen white scalps for each of his tribe

And kept to the vow that he swore

But the waging of war has terrible costs

He took to drinking to ease his pain

And he was drunk when the assassin shot him in the back

And we’ve never found his like again

Talgayeeta, son of Shikelelemus

Talgayeeta, called by some Logan

Talgayeeta, tried to be a man of peace

But the whites wouldn’t let him be.

Categories: history, poetry
  1. Penny Harvey
    June 15, 2010 at 11:20 am

    What a lovely poem. I am currently reading Alan Eckhart’s history of the Ohio River valley – That Dark and Bloody River – in which the story of Talgayeeta is faithfully and vividly told. It breaks your heart to read of the savagery and ignorance of many of the white pioneers with regard to the Native American tribes. True, atrocities were committed on both sides, but the story of Talgayeeta is an example of a man of peace and integrity who befriended the whites, had a white son-in-law who was respected, and yet his family suffered at the hands of hooligans who had been whipped up to aggression against the tribes by self-seeking men. Definitely the less attractive side of human nature. Thank you for commemorating this story in your poem.

    • June 15, 2010 at 11:36 am

      Thanks Penny, I got the info from Dark and Bloody River. I am a big Eckhart fan and have read all his books. I love the settlement of the midwest because the fights were more fair and it was really undecided who would ultimately win. I have pieces on tecumseh, pontiac, pucksinah and others posted mostly taken from Eckhart. I have a deep appreciation for Talgayeeta and the Mingos and an abiding dislike for militias and para-military groups. The thing I learned was I had always blamed the government for genocide but it was really the settlers who were the driving force, out of personal animosity, racism and greed. Some of my people were Pennsylvania Dutch so I may live on the land because my ancestors were willing to kill and steal and push for it. In some sense I owe a debt and telling some stories not a lot of people know is one way I try to pay back a little.

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