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.

The following recordings are of Margaret McKane Mauldin reading the stories.

The Stories

1. The three brothers and the spotted horse. mus08001-analysis

dsc001522. The hunter and his dogs. mus08002-analysis


3. Tug of war between the tie-snakes, tar baby. mus08003-analysis

4. The hunters’ wives. mus08004-analysis


5. The stork father. mus08005-analysis


6. Rabbit steals fire. mus08006-analysis


7. Turtle is beaten by three mothers. mus08007-analysis

8. Rabbit rides Wolf. mus08008-analysis


9. Turtle races Wolf. mus08009-analysis


10. The young man who turned into a snake. mus08010-analysis


11. Man defeats a giant lizard. mus08011-analysis


12. Man challenges a racing snake. mus08012-analysis

13. Rabbit traps Lion on the other side of the ocean. mus08013-analysis


14. Rabbit seeks wisdom from God. mus08014-analysis


15. Two boys become thunder. mus08015-analysis


16. Tiger helps man defeat a giant lizard. mus08016-analysis


17. Rabbit tries to straighten river beds. mus08017-analysis


18. Twisted Horn steals man’s heart. mus08018-analysis


19. Old dog saves master from Long Claws. mus08019-analysis


20. Doe killed by hunter, becomes his wife. mus08020-analysis


21. Buzzard doctors Rabbit. mus08021-analysis


22. Cow wants a knife. mus08022-analysis


23. Hunter captured by eagle. mus08023-analysis


24. Whistling man helps hunter. mus08024-analysis


25. Hunter taken to deer cave. mus08025-analysis


26. Man races a lizard. mus08026-analysis


27. Turtle tries to look up women’s dresses. mus08027-analysis


28. Wolf wants to become spotted. mus08028-analysis


29a. Girl abducted by lion. mus08029a-analysis


29b. Girl abducted by lion (version missing p. 1). mus08029b | mus08029b-typescript


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.

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!