Where it all began
It’s that time of year to be openly thankful to friends, family and just about everybody who touches your life. Let’s not forget the original Americans who loved and took care of this land before it became the state of Georgia. One important Yamacraw chief, Tomochichi, was a true friend to General James Oglethorpe and helped with the colonization of Georgia.
Who Was Tomochichi?
Chief Tomochichi was born around 1644, in the area of Savannah, Georgia. He was originally a Creek Indian but later established his own tribe because local tribes disagreed on how to handle the incoming settlers.
Tomochichi already had positive experiences trading with English colonies and wanted to establish good relations with the oncoming English settlers on the Georgia coastline. In 1729, he established his Yamacraw tribe strategically along the Savannah River with plans of creating a mutually beneficial relationship with English newcomers.
Having been outcast from the other local tribes, he was optimistic about the colonists settling near them. He saw an opportunity for the alliance — allowing his people to trade and establish diplomatic connections with the English. Tomochichi willingly gave his land to James Oglethorpe to build the city of Savannah.
Tomochichi and Oglethorpe
Fortunately, maintaining peace was as important to General James Oglethorpe as it was to Tomochichi. Both wanted to avoid the problems between English and American Indians present in other colonies. Oglethorpe and Tomochichi built a friendly, diplomatic relationship based on mutual respect.
Tomochichi proved invaluable to the new colony, Savannah. He helped Oglethorpe decide on the state’s southern borders, create roads and helped vastly in negotiations with other American Indian tribes. Oglethorpe often consulted his friend for advice. Oglethorpe also held up his promises to provide education for Tomochichi’s people.
Tomochichi Visits England
Tomochichi accompanied Oglethorpe back to England along with a small delegation of family and tribesmen. Tomochichi met with important English dignitaries and acted like a first-class ambassador and mediator for his people during numerous meetings.
He followed English mannerisms, made public appearances and respectfully pushed for recognition, education and fair trade for his people. When he returned to Georgia, Tomochichi assured other Lower Creek chieftains that the intentions of these new Englishmen were honest. He successfully convinced them to ally with the English.
Tomochichi Honored Burial
When Tomochichi died in 1739 in his late nineties, he requested that he be buried with his English friends. Oglethorpe granted Tomochichi a highly-honored, English military-style funeral with cannon and musket fire.
As they had become close and loyal friends, this gesture was an expression of genuine honor and respect. Oglethorpe himself was a pallbearer when the coffin was brought down the river from Yamacraw Village. Mico Tomochichi is buried in Wright Square in beautiful Savannah, Ga.
Thanks to Mico Tomochici, Georgia was one state colonized with mostly peace, respect and true diplomacy.
Image Courtesy of the New Georgia Encyclopedia
About the Author
April Lentini is the Content Strategist for GeorgiaGov. She empowers content managers for government agencies, helping them understand and improve their website content for optimal usability.