Complete excerpts from two speeches by Coacoochee
to main trail
Although the soldiers who transcribed Coacoochee's speeches
may have embellished them with their own species of romantic
diction, it is clear that the chief had a way with words. John Horse served as interpreter for both
of the speeches recorded in 1841 and thus may have contributed his own turns of phrase.
Coacoochee delivered the first speech to the officers in camp upon the occasion of his initial promise to surrender in March of
1841 (this is a longer excerpt of the speech abridged in the previous slide):
"The whites ... dealt unjustly by me. I came to them, they deceived me; the land I was upon I loved, my body is made of its sands; the Great Spirit gave me legs to walk over it; hands to aid myself; eyes to see its ponds, rivers, forests, and game; then a head with which I think. The sun, which is warm and bright as my feelings are now, shines to warm us and bring forth our crops, and the moon brings back the spirit of our warriors, our fathers, wives, and children. The white man comes; he grows pale and sick, why cannot we live here in peace? I have said I am the enemy to the white man. I could live in peace with him, but they first steal our cattle and horses, cheat us, and take our lands. The white men are as thick as the leaves in the hammock; they come upon us thicker every year. They may shoot us, drive our women and children night and day; they may chain our hands and feet, but the red man's heart will be always free."
The second speech was delivered on a boat in Tampa harbor on July 4, 1841. General Worth
had chained Coacoochee to the deck of the boat, and then ordered him to round up his followers once and for all.
The chief asked to speak:
"I was once a boy; then I saw the white man afar off. I hunted in these woods, first with a bow and arrow; then with a rifle. I saw the white man, and was told he was my enemy. I could not shoot him, as I would a wolf or bear; yet like these he came upon me; horses, cattle, and fields, he took from me. He said he was my friend; he abused our women and children, and told us to go from the land. Still he gave me his hand in friendship; we took it; whilst taking it, he had a snake in the other; his tongue was forked; he lied, and stung us. I asked but for a small piece of these lands, enough to plant and to live upon, far south, a spot where I could place the ashes of my kindred, a spot only sufficient upon which I could lay my wife and child. This was not granted me. I was put in prison; I escaped. I have been taken again; you have brought me back; I am here; I feel the irons in my heart."
Sprague Origin 259-60, 288-89. ©
Part 3, Exile: l