Lane scouted out a bit of sign that he knew would land right in the x-ring at Frontier Partisans. On page 365, Mooney relates the tale of The Owl, who belongs in the pantheon of badass Frontier Partisan warriors. Cunning and ballsy, he cleverly cheated a horrible death at the stake at the hands of Creek enemies.
In the late 17th and early 18th centuries, the Cherokee and the Iroquois were locked in imperial conflict. The two powerful native peoples — linguistic cousins — went to considerable effort to travel great distances over most rugged terrain to get at each other. After bleeding each other for decades, the two powers decided upon detente. A Seneca emissary named The Owl traveled with seven companions down from their western New York homeland to Cherokee country in the western part of the Carolinas to bear an offer of peace. The Cherokee were receptive, but they required a gesture of good faith. And nothing says “it shall be peace” quite like traveling south to Creek country on a raid.
All eight Seneca enthusiastically joined the Cherokee war party to attack the Creeks and, as the Seneca were doughty warriors, the Cherokee were no doubt glad to have their former enemies along. There was a fight, and the Seneca and the Cherokee escaped — all except The Owl.
A council was held in the enemy’s camp and it was decided that The Owl should be burned at the stake. The wood was gathered and everything made ready, but as they were about to tie him he claimed the warrior’s privilege to sing his death song and strike the post as he recited his warlike deeds.
He told first his exploits in the north and then in the west, giving times and places and the number of scalps taken, until his enemies were so pleased and interested that they forgot the prisoner in the warrior. It was a long story, but at lat he came to the battle in which he was taken. He told how many relatives he had killed of the very men around him, and then,striking the post with his tomahawk, “So many of your people I have killed, and so many I will yet kill.” And with that he struck down two men, sprang through the circle of warriors and was away.
The stunned Creeks never caught up to The Owl, who fled back to the Cherokee and rejoined his seven companions. the Cherokee were well satisfied with the gesture of good faith, and a peace was concluded between the great warrior peoples. Which goes to show you that a good story can get you out of the worst kind of fix.