Gouge texts

Earnest Gouge was born in the Muscogee (Creek) Nation, Indian Territory, around 1865. In 1915 he was hired by John R. Swanton to write 29 traditional stories in the traditional Muskogee alphabet. Read more about Gouge

In the 1990s Jack Martin came across the stories in the National Anthropological Archives and made photocopies of them for Margaret Mauldin, a Muskogee instructor at the University of Oklahoma. Martin, Mauldin, and Mauldin’s sister Juanita McGirt then set about editing and translating the stories. That work was published as a book in 2004:

  • Totkv Mocvse / New FireGouge, Earnest. 2004. Totkv Mocvse / New Fire: Creek Folktales. Edited and translated by Jack B. Martin, Margaret McKane Mauldin, and Juanita McGirt. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press

Proceeds from these titles have gone to Felix Gouge on behalf of the Gouge family.

Earnest Gouge’s stories are presented here in more detail. Files labeled “Original” are scanned versions (PDF) of photocopies of Gouge’s original documents. We are grateful to the National Anthropological Archives for allowing us to reproduce these here. “Typescript” files are typed versions reflecting Gouge’s spelling and the original pagination. Files labeled “Analysis” contain multiple lines of information: (a) a normalized Creek spelling; (b) a phonemic transcription; (c) an analysis of each word in parts (in the first seven stories only); and, (d) a free translation in English.

The Stories
1. The three brothers and the spotted horse. Original | Typescript | Analysis |

dsc001522. The hunter and his dogs. Original | Typescript | Analysis |

3. Tug of war between the tie-snakes, tar baby. Original | Typescript | Analysis |

dsc00158
4. The hunters’ wives. Original | Typescript | Analysis |


5. The stork father. Original | Typescript | Analysis |


6. Rabbit steals fire. Original | Typescript | Analysis |


7. Turtle is beaten by three mothers. Original | Typescript | Analysis |

dsc00142
8. Rabbit rides Wolf. Original | Typescript | Analysis |


9. Turtle races Wolf. Original | Typescript | Analysis |


10. The young man who turned into a snake. Original | Typescript | Analysis |


11. Man defeats a giant lizard. Original | Typescript | Analysis |


12. Man challenges a racing snake. Original | Typescript | Analysis |

dsc00160
13. Rabbit traps Lion on the other side of the ocean. Original | Typescript | Analysis |


14. Rabbit seeks wisdom from God. Original | Typescript | Analysis |


15. Two boys become thunder. Original | Typescript | Analysis |


16. Tiger helps man defeat a giant lizard. Original | Typescript | Analysis |


17. Rabbit tries to straighten river beds. Original | Typescript | Analysis |


18. Twisted Horn steals man’s heart. Original | Typescript | Analysis |


19. Old dog saves master from Long Claws. Original | Typescript | Analysis |


20. Doe killed by hunter, becomes his wife. Original | Typescript | Analysis |


21. Buzzard doctors Rabbit. Original | Typescript | Analysis |


22. Cow wants a knife. Original | Typescript | Analysis |


23. Hunter captured by eagle. Original | Typescript | Analysis |


24. Whistling man helps hunter. Original | Typescript | Analysis |


25. Hunter taken to deer cave. Original | Typescript | Analysis |


26. Man races a lizard. Original | Typescript | Analysis |


27. Turtle tries to look up women’s dresses. Original | Typescript | Analysis |

dsc00159
28. Wolf wants to become spotted. Original | Typescript | Analysis |


29a. Girl abducted by lion. Original | Typescript | Analysis |


29b. Girl abducted by lion (version missing p. 1). Original | Typescript

Notes on typescripts. Conventions on typescripts.

Mvto / Thank you

Totkv mocvse (new fire) is a term used for the ceremonial fire marking the rebirth of a tribal town. We hope this work will rekindle interest and pride in the Creek language and in Earnest Gouge and other keepers of Creek traditions.

We are grateful to the Smithsonian Institution’s National Anthropological Archives for allowing us to publish these texts and for making photographs and photocopies of the originals available to us.

Felix Gouge provided enthusiastic support for the project, shared his family history, and showed us his grandfather’s home, church, and ceremonial ground.fgouge1

Edna Gouge introduced us to other family members and provided encouragement.

Gloria and Michael McCarty made sound recordings of Margaret Mauldin reading the stories. Jesse Mercer and Virginia Crowell helped with the typing. Pamela Innes, Jason Jackson, and Craig Womack provided helpful comments.

The National Endowment for the Humanities (under grant RT-2156694) and the National Science Foundation (under grant SBR-9809819) funded this research as part of a larger project to document the Creek language.

To all who have helped, we say, Mvto!