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Shawnee Town - Excerpt from "Swift"

 Arrival at Eskippakithiki


The site of the Shawnee town was shocking to John Finely as they crossed over a low hill and the entire levels of the town came into full view. They had already greeted others along the path that were coming out from the town and saw other small parties of five and six hunters moving out in various directions. As they made their way into the village some took notice but seemed apathetic to the arrival of the group containing two white men. It simply was assumed that the warriors would not have brought trouble to this great town.
     Eskippakithiki was situated on a level plain at the foot hills of the last remnants of the mountains located to the east. The village was a scattering of long bark houses, the kind of permanent house most southeastern tribes built. Several poles were set in a general rectangular -shape, stockade style. Smaller rafter poles were arched for the roof. Mud, moss, leaves, dry grass and bark was mixed in random fashion to cover the entire structure. Despite the unusual materials, the long bark houses were relatively water tight. Scattered about were numerous cooking fires sending straight columns of smoke into the blue cloudless sky. Surrounding the village were flat fields of green grasses and crops that were obviously being cultivated by the Shawnee. There was one notable stream nearby supplying a continuous fresh water source. A heavily worn path lead from the village, westward to the long hill, then downward to the meandering creek. Women and children were located at various distances along the path carrying skins and pots of water to their various homes in the town. Hunting was good in every direction. Bison could be found literally north, south, and west of the town while deer and elk were plentiful east in the mountains. Although John was unaware, a good source of flint could be found nearby in the mountainous area. The flint was a precious resource used to make nearly every tool for everyday life although this group of Shawnee had begun to acquire metal objects including axes and even some now had rifles they obtained from the British.
John Finley and George Mundy were ignored by their traveling companions as each hunter separated off to their own house and waiting families. The hunters were bringing back numerous trade items, from the west presumably, but they never divulged their origins to either John or George. The two strangers moved right though the village and, though were stared at by the inhabitants, no hostility was exhibited. John Finley moved to the eastern edge of the town, located a nice big Burr oak tree in the hot savanna plain. It was well outside of the town at the edge of the woods and adjacent to a heavily worn path. John assumed the path was an old bison trail but later would learn it was the Warrior’s Path. John quickly discarded his heavy pack and set about making a hasty temporary camp. John gathered firewood, built a cooking pit from stones and made ready for his first night’s stay in a big town. George Mundy rested under the shade of the big oak tree, watching John hurry about setting up camp. Some of the Shawnee kids came around just to see the newcomers, the white-skinned new comers.
“Aren’t you going to lay a camp?” John asked.
“I will in a little while. Do you know what Eskippakithiki means?” George said, changing the subject.
“I don’t speak Shawnee, so it’s pretty likely I don’t know what it means,” John replied with a touch of sarcasm.
“Means a place called Blue Licks. Eskipp means Blue Licks, ak means place and the ithiki is that part of their language that means called, I guess. Anyway, this is known as the lower Blue Licks. North up the Warriors Path is the upper Blue Licks. They gather and boil salt there, I am told. Never been there myself, though,” George explained.
“A place called Blue Licks,” John chuckled.
“Yes sir. Funny thing to me too. You know back east they call this country out here Kentakee. I think what some hunters done was confuse the last part of this town’s name and came up with it. You take the ‘Ki-thi-ki from the last part of Eskippa and it would be pretty easy for some of them devils to make Kee-taa-kee sound like Ken-ta-kee. It always seemed like that to me anyway.”
    "It's something to ponder.”

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