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A Tale of Many Tribes
Tsenacomacah was 17 years old when the Strangers, the Beard People, first appeared in the lands of the True People.

There had long been tales told of a race of strangers far to the south ravaging the lands of other tribes, and in turn occasionally being ravaged by them, told by the Tribal Elders, tales gleaned from the traders who traveled along the trail networks that facilitated trade between far-flung tribes. Tales that told of Strangers coming ashore in the lands of the Calusa, the Ai, the Tocobago - and others. Strangers who dressed in garishly colored skins of a strange texture, while their own real skins were pale, frail and sickly looking. To make up for their frailties, the Strangers had developed powerful magics, wearing strange stones on their heads and chests, shiny stones that were strong, but when whose strength was overcome or tested, did not shatter but instead bent like a broken stick of wood. They had magical spears or clubs that belched thunder and smoke, and killed The People at a distance, and great long knives made not of normal stone, but instead of the same magical sort of stone they wore on their heads and chests.

Some times The People overcame the Strangers in conflicts, usually by massing overwhelming numbers or by employing stealth to get closer to them, inside the ranges of their magical weapons, close enough for spears, arrows, and clubs to do their deadly work... but the Strangers kept coming. If you managed to kill one, 3 more sprung up in his place.

Just a few years before Tsenacomacah's birth, maybe 8 or 10 summers, the Strangers penetrated the country deeply, by making use of frightened local tribesmen to guide them from one unsuspecting village to the next. By that means they crushed a wide arc through The Country, from the Great Water to the south deep into the mountains and across to the Grandfather River to the west, taking and destroying as they went. They were eventually overrun and driven from the lands by western tribes like the Mabila, and decimated by a coalition of tribes along the Grandfather River as they were finally driven from the land.

In a battle during that previous invasion of Beard People two days to the south of Tsenacomacah's village, the Strangers had been engaged and defeated, turned away from the lands of the True People, and sent packing onward. His own father had participated in that battle, answering a call for warriors to meet the destructive Strangers before they could enter the lands of the True People.

That battle was joined in the southern regions of the lands of The People of the Artificial Hills, a neighboring tribe of people whose lands adjoined the lands of the True People. Those people were themselves strange, but not as strange as The Strangers, the Beard People who were invading the land. The People of the Artificial Hills worshiped strange spirits, spirits they called "gods", and which they claimed were more powerful than the Spirits of the Land. Tsenacomacah was doubtful of that - how could any strange foreign spirit be more powerful than their own Great Horned Serpent? They certainly couldn't be bigger! They built artificial hills by dumping clay pot after clay pot of dirt in a single place, eventually building a man-made hill, then perching a temple to their strange gods atop it. So they were called The People of the Artificial Hills. Tsenacomacah thought that to be a ridiculous amount of labor for nearly no return, and was glad the True People didn't engage in such madness.

Tsenacomacah had been doubtful of the tales told of the Strangers, until his father told him the truth of it, of the battle he had fought in the south lands that turned them away. The tales were too fanciful, too unbelievable. How could anyone be that strange and still be human? Nevertheless, his father had confirmed the tales to him, had seen them with his own eyes, and confirmed for himself that they were indeed just men who could be killed, not spirits or gods. Men with strange magic, to be sure, but mere men all the same.

Tsenacomacah's village sat at the top of Great Mother Gap in the Long Mountain. Their role was to control trade passing through that gap to the True People beyond from the Salt People who lived on the other side of the gap and mountain. 20 miles northeast along that same Long Mountain, sat another village at another gap in the mountain that was even closer to the salt production works, and another village even farther north and east of that one, which controlled access via gaps to the north and west. Tsenacomacah's village controlled the gap that the trail from the salt distribution town to the east came through. The True People sat at a trade hub controlling access between the northwest and southeast of their homelands. All trade in those directions had to pass through those lands.

Controlled trade, but more importantly prevented invasions though those gaps. The True People spawned a lot of the traders who traveled those routes. They were a trading people, and consequently gathered much of the news from far and wide to create the tales the Tribal Elders were prone to tell.

So one afternoon in late in his 17th summer, Tsenacomacah witnessed the spectacle of refugees pouring through the gap from the salt distribution village of Maniateek on the other side of the gap. The story pieced together from the tales of the frightened refugees told that a company of Strangers, the Beard People, penetrated deep into the territory of the Salt People and destroyed their distribution village, burned it to the ground and killed all of the people they could find in it and the surrounding area, all except a couple of women who some of the refugees saw being taken away as rape-wives, "wives" of conquest and capture.

True to their method of operation, the Beard People came in company of some of the more southerly people from the southeast, of the Shualah tribe, among whom, apparently, the Beard People had settled, and where they had built their own palisade within the palisade of the people living there, a fort within a fort. It seemed like they intended to stay. The name the Beard People gave their fort-town within a fort-town sounded to Tsenacomacah's ears like "Sanwan", a strange word indeed, from a strange people.

The Beard People were a strange lot. They traveled only as men, with no women among them. They had huge strange beasts that they rode upon, and large vicious monster-dogs they attacked people with, but no women of their own. There had been some friction with the locals as one or another of the Beard People claimed wives from among the People that were not theirs to claim, but that friction had largely been quelled by the magical weapons the Beard People possessed.

Now they were coming farther afield and kidnapping women of other tribes. That simply would not do. The headman of Maniateek had foolishly and boastfully sent a message to the Beard People that he would come and kill them, and eat them and their dogs too. A foolish boast to make to a people that possessed magical weapons. It gave them the pretext to make their attack, destroy his village, kill his people, and take his women. A tall price to pay for boastful words.

Tsenacomacah knew they had killed the headman, but could never discover whether they ate him too, or not, in retaliation for his boast that he would eat them and their dogs.

Eventually, a very few of the refugees from the destroyed Salt People village of Maniateek and the more northern village of Kaskatack where the salt was actually produced, settled among the True People and were adopted into that tribe. They had no village of their own to return to any more, and many were too fearful to return anyhow. They had nightmares at times remembering the smoke, the noise, and the sheer destruction of their town, and few had any desire to return there.

The bulk of the Salt People, however, left, never to return. They followed the rivers downstream until they judged themselves to be far enough from the Beard People to be relatively safe, and then settled there among a group of the Shawanwa tribe, the Southern People as they were known.

There, other Beard People eventually made their encroachment from the northwest, but they claimed to be other, different, Beard People, of another tribe of Beard People, and enemies to the Beard People that invaded from the southeast. There was no telling. It could be true, as there were old tales told of inter-tribal war among the Beard People to the southeast, massive fights of smoke and thunder and giant canoes with concurrent massive loss of life among them as each Stranger tribe sought to gain a beachhead on the Big Water to the east and southeast, and to keep the other Stranger tribes out.

The broken remnants of the Salt People who had settled among the Southern People far to the west were taken eventually, many decades later, together with the Southern People living there, to a Beard People village even farther west, and to the north, where they were promised protection by the Beard People of the North under a chief who bore the unlikely name of "La-Sal", or something that sounded like that. Tsenacomacah never heard from them again, nor did he ever hear if they found the promised protection or not.

--- More to come...

“The nature of psychological compulsion is such that those who act under constraint remain under the impression that they are acting on their own initiative. The victim of mind-manipulation does not know that he is a victim. To him the walls of his prison are invisible, and he believes himself to be free. That he is not free is apparent only to other people.”

-Aldous Huxley

-- Got mask? Just sayin'...

Awesome story so far! Thanks for posting.
(09-19-2021, 01:59 AM)ABNARTY Wrote: Awesome story so far! Thanks for posting.

All the more so because it is a "fictionalized" account of actual events, putting the reader into the real world events through the eyes of Tsenacomacah, who struggled to understand an alien culture hell bent on taking his home and way of life away.

Kinda like what is happening in the modern-day US, as we speak.

“The nature of psychological compulsion is such that those who act under constraint remain under the impression that they are acting on their own initiative. The victim of mind-manipulation does not know that he is a victim. To him the walls of his prison are invisible, and he believes himself to be free. That he is not free is apparent only to other people.”

-Aldous Huxley

-- Got mask? Just sayin'...

minusculeclap minusculeclap  Fantastic!
[Image: attachment.php?aid=953]
"They watch from behind complacent smiles whilst polishing their cutlery. Yet, with egg between the prongs"
Tsenacomacah's people lived in the watershed of the Peleewa-theepi, the "Turkey River". One day in the far distant future, that river would bear a new name, Clinch River, but Tsenacomacah knew nothing of that. His people called it Peleewa-theepi. Turkey River. So, while they called themselves "The True People", or simply "The People", other tribes referred to them as the Turkey River People.

Peleewa-theepi was not to be confused with Shi-peleewa-theepi, "Big Turkey River", as the latter was a much larger river, several miles to the north, and separated the country of Kan-tuc-kee from the country inhabited by the Great Lakes tribes and yet another group of the Artificial Hill People between Kan-tuc-kee and the Great Lakes. Shi-peleewa-theepi flowed west, and eventually emptied into the Grandfather River (one day to be renamed "Mississippi River") that bisected the continent north to south. One day in the future, Shi-peleewa-theepi would be renamed "Ohio River", a word that a tribe of the Beard People called the Long Knife People bastardized from the language of yet another people foreign to that region, and the old aboriginal name would be heard no more.

Turkey River,Where Tsenacomacah's people lived, in contrast, flowed to the southwest, eventually merging into Tanasi River which in turn flowed westerly, eventually merging into Big Turkey River just before that mighty waterway in turn emptied into Grandfather River. To the east of the Turkey River People, beyond the ridge of the Long Mountain, flowed the Salt River, to be known in later times as Holston River. That area had been the home of the Salt People, before their abrupt departure in the wake of the attack by the Beard People.

Eastward from Salt River, there flowed yet another river that, curiously, flowed from the south to the north, in direct contravention of the direction of all the other rivers in the area. It flowed thusly because of it's great age, millions upon millions of years old. It had formed while the continents were still colliding to form the mountains that ringed these lands, and was, most likely, around 300 millions of years old. That river was called Kanawha-theepi, "Swallowing River", because of the whirlpools that occasionally formed in it to suck the unsuspecting beneath the surface. The People believed that a Great Horned Serpent lived in that river, and that the whirlpools were that gargantuan beast opening it's mouth for a meal. In later times, the southern half would be named "New River", a paradox given the ancient origins of that river, and the northern half would retain the same name of Kanawha River where it flowed into the Big Turkey River.

Eastward of the Kanawha-Theepi watershed, all of the rivers flowed to the east, into a great bay and onward into the Big Water ocean, known to The People as the Shi-nepi. There was a line that each of those eastward flowing rivers crossed, an escarpment, and ancient fault line, where each of them had a falls. The Falls Line was yet another natural boundary separating the people to the west of it from the cultures to the east.

This miniature geography lesson is provided as a public service, a back drop to the tales of the tribes and conflicts yet to come. The rivers were roadways, the life of The People.

“The nature of psychological compulsion is such that those who act under constraint remain under the impression that they are acting on their own initiative. The victim of mind-manipulation does not know that he is a victim. To him the walls of his prison are invisible, and he believes himself to be free. That he is not free is apparent only to other people.”

-Aldous Huxley

-- Got mask? Just sayin'...

The year following the attack by the Beard People upon the Salt People, all was in turmoil.

The Beard People had continued their depredations upon the native population, capturing and seizing "wives" from them and making demands for strange substances that The People knew nothing of, things the Beard People termed "gold" and "silver". The foreigners had raided charnel houses, where the bodies and bones of former headmen of the tribes resided, desecrating the bodies of the dead in their quest for these strange substances, and stealing all of the pearls and anything else they deemed to be of value that had been left there as offerings to the spirits. They grew nothing of their own to eat, and hunted food but very little, as all of their time seemed to be devoted to treasure hunting for treasures that did not exist. So they raided and claimed the food stores of The People to support themselves, leaving the women and children starving.

It was abomination upon abomination, and The People would not suffer the depredations forever.

A few months later, some of the Beard People went westward in their search, decimating even tribes on the other side of the mountains from their fort called Sanwan. It seemed that they would not stop until they had destroyed or enslaved every one of The People, and that could not be stomached. They had set up yet other forts to the east of the mountains, and gave all appearances of settling in for the long haul.

On top of everything else, the departure of the Salt People was a severe blow to all in the region. Without the salt they produced and traded to other tribes, all of the tribes suffered... and that was the direct fault of the Beard People.

Some individuals tried to find the salt source that the Salt People had exploited in former times, but most of those searchers never returned. In reality, that was due to the Turkey River People guarding the area against encroachments and killing any interlopers, to protect their own frontiers and create a buffer zone. The Beard People had encroached upon and destroyed the Salt People, and the Turkey River People were not about to allow that to happen to themselves as well, if they could help it. That was the reality of it, but legends grew from that, legends that claimed the spirits of the Salt People killed by the Beard People were taking their revenge on anyone entering that land.

The former lands of the Salt People gained a reputation as a No Man's Land, a place of vengeful spirits, and eventually no one ventured into them any more, leaving the rich salt deposits to be rediscovered by another people, a strange people, far into the future. The taboo that grew around the lands of the Salt People would eventually have unintended consequences for The Turkey River People as well, but that is a tale for another day.

That meant there was no more salt for The People everywhere else in the region. Any salt imported into the region had to come from the Sea People, far to the east on the Big Water, and was consequently much more expensive, and therefore harder to come by. To the northwest of Tsenacomacah's village, there were minor salt deposits, salt licks and salt creeks in a small area, but nothing nearly as rich as the deposits formerly controlled by the Salt People, and now lost. Those smaller seeps were far more labor intensive to produce from, and hardly worth the effort. There were richer deposits to the north on the Kanawha-theepi, and to the west in lands of Kan-tuc-kee, but they had the same problem of transportation as the salt coming from the Sea Peoples to the east.

Over the next year following the attack on the Salt People, these circumstances all combined, and came to a head. Runners were sent out, great Councils were called and debated, and the result of those Councils were that the Beard People had to go. They were too damaging to the lives and prosperity of the True People, in all of the tribes.

Calls for a gathering of warriors with common interest were sent out, calls to gather masses of warriors to drive out the Beard People. Tsenacomacah, now in his 18th year, answered that call along with hundreds of others from far and wide. As a member of a tribe of traders, his economic interests had been directly impacted by the attack.

In the Year of the Lord of the Beard People 1568, they were driven from the lands of the True People.

The forts of the Beard People were, for the most part, to the south and east of the lands of the Turkey River People, in the flat lands, savannahs and forests of what would one day be called North Carolina and South Carolina. When the call for warriors had amassed an overwhelming force to defeat the beard People, they were attacked. Their forts were burned to the ground, and they were all killed to a man. Unbeknownst to the gathered warriors, one Beard Person, a single man, survived and escaped to tell the tale. It is recorded in the archives of the Spanish Crown to this day.

Tsenacomacah killed several of the strangers himself, 5 or 6. Two with arrows before he ran out, one with his spear, driven so deeply upward from under the man's chin that it pierced his brain and was stuck so fast in the man's skull that Tsenacomacah could not free it, and the rest with his pokeeshi club. His father had been right - they were but men, and could be killed as easily as any other man, despite their magic weapons. Tsenacomacah learned that day that once they had discharged their magic dragon weapons, the ones that belched smoke, thunder, fire, and death, the weapon was dead until it could be recharged with magic. Until them, it was but a club, as any other club in any man's hands. The trick was to kill the man behind the club before he could install more magic into his weapon, and to do that, one aimed for areas not covered by the strange shiny rocks the Beard Men worse as a defense. You just bypassed that defense, and struck at the soft parts.

After the fighting was over, Tsenacomacah sat down, weary, covered in mud, blood, soot and ash, and ate deer jerky and pemmican from his provisions pouch as he watched the former palisade and huts of the Beard People he had killed burn to the ground. he vowed that day that if they ever returned, they would be served the same, but before they could disrupt The People and their way of life, rather than afterward as had happened to be the case this time.

The actions that day gained a reputation for Tsenacomacah, which spread outward to tribes as the warriors who were there that day and witnessed the action told their stories upon returning home. Even among his own people, in his own village, Tsenacomacah was referred to in hushed tones as "Beard-People-Killer". People often avoided him, shied away. Whether that was out of deference and respect, or out of fear, Tsenacomacah could not tell. In his own eyes, he was a "killer" of no one. He'd only done what needed to be done, and in all truth only had aspirations as a trader, to run the trails and carry goods from town to town, gathering tales and making trades.

Unfortunately for him, that was not the reputation that grew.

The Beard People were driven from the interior, and gave up their aspirations to conquer it as too dangerous. They were driven all the way back to their seaside town of Santa Elena, on the coast of South Carolina at what would one day be the Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island, and would never again venture forth into the interior. Eventually, after another 20 years, even the hard-fought-for and hard won Santa Elena would be abandoned.

The North American interior was just too dangerous for the Spaniard Beard People. Henceforth, the Spanish Beard People would confine themselves to what they had renamed "la Florida", a large peninsula at the southern extremity of the continent. the lands that had formerly belonged to the Ai, the Calusa, the Uitina, and so on. The only lands they had a snowball's chance in hell of holding against the wrath of the natives.

“The nature of psychological compulsion is such that those who act under constraint remain under the impression that they are acting on their own initiative. The victim of mind-manipulation does not know that he is a victim. To him the walls of his prison are invisible, and he believes himself to be free. That he is not free is apparent only to other people.”

-Aldous Huxley

-- Got mask? Just sayin'...

Historical Interlude

Everything in these tales is historical fact, wrapped up in a blanket of fictional tale-telling.

Spanish Archives really do record the destruction of the Spanish forts planted along the coastal interior of North and South Carolina by Juan Pardo, a tale told by the single lone survivor out of all those garrisons who made it back to Santa Elena alive to tell the tale.

One of those forts, Fort San Juan ("Sanwan" in the tales), Juan Pardo's main fort in the region, has been rediscovered in the past few years by archaeologists near Morgantown, NC.

One of Pardo's sergeants, a particularly vile man who, I believe, was named Hernan Moyano, was left in charge of Fort San Juan when Pardo had to go back to Santa Elena for something or other, and in the absence of Pardo conducted a raid on a town to the north, around present day Saltville, VA. A town mentioned in the Spanish Archives under the name of Maniatique. He did so, according to the Archives, under the pretense that the village cacique - that's what the Spainards called a chief, any chief - had sent a message saying he was going to kill and eat the Spaniards, and their dogs, too.

So Sergeant Moyano took a company of Spaniards together with an unknown number of Indian "allies" from the town where Fort San Juan was constructed, which the Spaniards called "Joara" or "Xuala", and destroyed Maniatique, burned it to the ground, and killed all the inhabitants they could find, reporting back with outrageously inflated figures of houses burned and people killed. I guess "body count" was even a thing in 16th century conquest.

Other documents in the Spanish Archives, documents in support of pension applications, were written by men actually on that expedition to Maniatique, and two by native women who were captured there and never saw their homes again.

Indian villages of that time period have been uncovered at Chilhowie, VA, Saltville, VA, and across Clinch Mountain ("the Long Mountain" in the tales) at the top of Big Moccasin Gap ("Big Mother Gap" in the tales), and in Elk Garden VA, on the western side of Hayter's Gap in Clinch Mountain, under the shadow of Beartown Mountain.

Farther to the north, at Crab Orchard in Tazewell County, VA, a village site was uncovered that guarded what later became known as "The Sandy War Passes" - gaps in Copper Ridge and Sandy Ridge that were the communication points with Big Sandy River, going west into Kentucky, and points north and west into the Ohio country. Those passes were used by the Ohio Indians to make raids on American settlements in Southwestern Virginia, and were used by the Union Army to make raids into the same area, hence the reason they became known as "The War Passes".

Archaeological research has confirmed that the culture of the people to the west of Clinch Mountain (the Turkey River People) was distinct from, and different than, the people east of that mountain (the Salt People). They had differently styled projectile points and pottery. I have some arrow heads, pot sherds, bits of bone, and freshwater mussel shells from the site of Tsenacomacah's village on the western side of Big Moccasin Gap in what is now called Hansonville. I picked them up out of a plowed field on the village site over 40 years ago.

All of those villages were mysteriously abandoned at about the same time, a point for another installment of the tales on down the road.

25 years or so before Juan Pardo's entrada into the North American interior, Hernan de Soto tried one of his own. It ended in disaster as well, and de Soto never left North America alive, nor did most of his troops. at a point in de Soto's entrada, they were attacked and defeated by a tribe they recorded as "Chisca" Indians. That fight has been traced to an area on the Virginia-Tennessee border, either around the city of Bristol or slightly further north in Lee County, VA. That would be the fight mentioned by Tsenocomacah's father.

Many years ago, hunters reported finding a Spanish grave, or the grave of a presumed Spaniard, in the far northeastern corner of Tennessee, way up in the corner where TN, VA, and NC all come together. it's exact location has been lost to the mists of time, but I suppose could be rediscovered with a little diligence. In an 1869 edition of the newspaper the Bristol Herald-Courier, a man reported finding a burial mound in the company of companions while hunting in that then wilderness. When they broke open the mound (searching for Indian artifacts, I presume) they instead found the body of a European, accompanied by Spanish conqustador artifacts. 3 bodies were in the mound, two of which could not be identified... but the third, the presumed conquistador, had on his chest a medallion with the word "Espa" on one side and a cross engraved on the obverse.

No one knows now whether it was the body of one of de Soto's men lost in the battle with the Chisca, or if it may have been one of Pardo's or Moyano's men.

The dead often keep their own counsel.


Next up: The destruction of the Spanish incursion to plant a Jesuit Mission at Ajacan, on what is now the York River in Virginia.

“The nature of psychological compulsion is such that those who act under constraint remain under the impression that they are acting on their own initiative. The victim of mind-manipulation does not know that he is a victim. To him the walls of his prison are invisible, and he believes himself to be free. That he is not free is apparent only to other people.”

-Aldous Huxley

-- Got mask? Just sayin'...

Great bit of history and story telling minusculebeercheers

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