Saturdays are the days I usually post snippets of one of my books, but today is slightly different. As many of you know, when I’m not writing historical fiction books, I’m playing music – the whole “professional musician by night, indie author by day” thing. That being said, I tend to get caught up in the music of the time of whatever book I’m writing. My latest work takes place in 1812, the setting is the Mississippi Territory, known today as Clarke County, Alabama, and a few of the characters are Mvskoke (Muskogee Creek Indian.) Because of this, I’ve been listening to traditional Creek music for the last few months, and this particular song has stuck in my head. It feels more like an ancient chant than a song, and I can’t stop playing it. It is “Heleluyvn.”
Here’s an excerpt from “Elly Hays” coming Nov 4 to all online retailers. Elly is my 5th great grandmother, and the book is the third in the Okatibbee Creek series.
The laborers had erected a small makeshift platform in the middle of the meadow. It rose two feet off the ground so Tecumseh could be seen above the massive gathering of people. Rumors had circulated for months that he would come, as it had been foretold by a bright comet in the nighttime sky in March of 1811, and the gathering crowd numbered into the hundreds, perhaps closer to a thousand, representing over a dozen of the twenty Mvskoke clans.
As the people waited for him to take the platform, they grew increasingly impatient. They had been assembling for days to hear him speak, so not only were they weary from their travels, but the scorching sun was not improving their disposition. The air was as stagnant as the wait, with not even the slightest of breezes to offer relief from the stifling heat. The afternoon sun melting into evening had made them agitated, and they grumbled and occasionally began chanting for the great warrior to appear and address them. When he did not take the platform after a few minutes, the chanting quieted to a dull objection, only to start up again within a short amount of time.
Over the last few months, reports had surfaced that the Americans would once again declare war against the British. Before and since the revolution, the British had befriended the Indians, asking for their help in warding off the Americans’ expansion. Since the Indians considered the land theirs in the first place, they were pleased to oblige. The Indians had never asked for a favor in return, but the waves of white settlers were growing, continually trespassing upon their tribal land. They needed help, they needed answers, they needed to stop the encroachment. They eagerly awaited Tecumseh’s speech and they were anxious to hear a plan. They wanted to know what he wanted of them. If the reports of an impending war were true, perhaps this was the time to join forces with the British and defeat the white man once and for all.
Finally, a group of elders dressed in vibrant tribal robes with headdresses embellished with porcupine fur and hawk feathers stepped up onto the platform. The cheer began small and grew to a fevered pitch as it spread across the field of warriors like a breeze washing over wheat. The elders greeted the crowd and led them in singing their tribal anthem, “Heleluyvn,” following which the crowd erupted again in anticipation of the great warrior’s arrival.
Elly Hays is available at Amazon