Gun Merchant: Creek Chief
This chief of Okchaiyi first came into prominence after the massacre of the traders on March 14, 1760. Twelve days after this affair, while staying at Muklasa, he, in the name of the headmen of the Upper Creeks and some refugee traders present, sent a talk to Governor Ellis in which he expressed the hope that the Governor would not think that this affair was a concerted plot of the nation in general, that if it had been a concerted affair, not a single trader would have ever got to his own country; that the traders present knew what uneasiness it gave the Indians; and he wished the Governor to believe that the Indians had no malice in their hearts, and their only wish was that a good understanding and friendship might be renewed with the white people. The deeds were done by a few young men and the headmen were not privy to it, and he hoped that traders would be allowed to return to the Nation.
The Governor sent a talk in reply in which he stated the Creeks must inflict capital punishment on the murderers, and that the trade would be renewed when it was safe to do so. but that first the Creeks in every town must select some powerful person to take charge of the traders and their goods; other- wise no traders would venture their persons and goods among them; and the traders must pay a yearly consideration to these guardians. Some weeks after the Governor sent another talk into the Nation. Gun Merchant was at Okfusky when the talk came there. He com- mented on it largely as a good talk and that they ought to quench the fire while in their power to do so. At his suggestion, the Indians went forth, gathered up the bones of the traders, wrapped them in white deer skins and buried them. Another evidence of Gun Merchant’s fair dealing occurred early in 17 61. The store of a trader named Henderson among the Upper Creeks was robbed. This coming to the ears of Gun Merchant, he interposed to prevent further mischief, and at the same time took two traders and their goods under his protection. Governor Wright was so appreciative of this action that he sent a special talk to Gun Merchant. But the obligations of the traders and their guardians were not altogether well observed. Gun Merchant in a talk of April 30, which he sent to Governor Wright, says: “There was a Man appointed to look after the Traders in each Town — some performed it, others did not, and that the said Head- men were to be paid for their Trouble; this Talk was given out last year by Joseph Wright from Governor Ellis; but we see no Rewards for it yet; there are others that go Guards to the Pack Horses that get nothing for this Trouble, which make the Young Peo- ple indifferent of going down.”
Gun Merchant was one of the four great medal chiefs of the Upper Creeks created at the Congress in Pensacola in June, 1765.
After this there is no further record relating to his career.
References. — The Colonial Records of Georgia, vol. viii, pp. 325, 348, 421, 423, 514, 543, 544; Mississippi Provincial Archives, vol. 1, p. 210.