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Choctaw Indian Chiefs and Leaders
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Dukes, Joseph. An interpreter, the son of half-blood Choctaw parents, born in the old Choctaw country, in the present Mississippi, in 1811. He attended one of the early mission schools at Mayhew, where he made such progress that he of ten acted as interpreter for Rev. Cyrus Kingsbury, the pioneer missionary, who never learned the Choctaw language. After the Choctaw had ceded to the United States their lands in the E., he remained in Mississippi for some years, helping Rev. Cyrus Byington prepare a Choc taw grammar and dictionary. In 1851 or 1852 he preached under the direction of Rev. Allen Wright at Wheelock, Ind. Ter., and assisted Mr Wright in translating the Old Testament. When Mr Wright was succeeded by Rev. John Edwards, in 1853, Dukes taught the latter Choctaw and aided him in translation in addition to his preaching. The first draft of the whole of the Old Testament from Genesis to II Kings, as well as of the Psalms, is attributed to him, and he probably translated also some portions of the New Testament. He died in 1861. He was the author of The History of Joseph and His Brethren (Utica, 1831, repr. 1836). Pilling, Bibliog. Muskh. Lang., Bull. B. A. E., 1889.
Wright, Allen. A Choctaw preacher, born in Mississippi about 1825; he emigrated with most of the tribe to Indian Territory in 1832, his parents dying soon afterward, leaving him and a sister. He had a strain of white blood, probably one-eighth or one-sixteenth. In his youth he lived some time in the family of the Rev. Cyrus Kingsbury, a Presbyterian missionary, and began his education in a missionary day-school near Doaksville. While here he was converted to the Christian faith, and soon after entered Spencer Academy in the Choctaw Nation. By reason of his studious habits he was sent by the Choctaw authorities to a school in Delaware, but afterward went to Union College, Schenectady, N. Y., where he was graduated in 1852. He then took a full course in Union Theological Seminary, New York City, being graduated in 1855, and in the following year was ordained by the Indian Presbytery. Returning to his people in Indian Territory, he preached to them until his death in 1885. His people appreciating his ability and uprightness, Mr. Wright was called to affairs of state, being elected successively a member of the Choctaw House of Representatives and the Senate, and afterward Treasurer. In 1866, after the Civil War, he was sent to Washington as a delegate to negotiate a new treaty with the United States, and during his absence was elected principal chief of the Choctaw Nation, an office which he held until 1870. The Rev. John Edwards characterized Wright as “a man of large intelligence, good mind, an excellent preacher, and a very faithful laborer for the good of his people. No other Choctaw that I ever met could give such a clear explanation of difficult points in the grammar of the Choctaw.” About 1873 he translated the Chickasaw constitution, which was published by the Chickasaw Nation, and in 1880 he published a “Chahta Leksikon.” Just before his death he completed the translation of the Psalms from Hebrew into Choctaw. Soon after his graduation Mr. Wright married Miss Harriet Newell Mitchell, of Dayton, Ohio, to whom were born several children, including Eliphalet Mott Wright, M. D., of Olney, Okla.; Rev. Frank Hall Wright, of Dallas, Texas; Mrs Mary Wallace and Mrs Anna W. Ludlow, of Wapanucka, Okla.; Allen Wright, jr., a lawyer of South McAlester, Okla.; Mrs Clara E. Richards, Miss Kathrine Wright, and James B. Wright, C. E., all of Wapanucka, Okla.
Mushalatubee. A Choctaw chief, born in the last half of the 18th century. He was present at Washington D.C. in Dec. 1824, as one of the Choctaw delegation, where he met and became accuainted with Lafayette on his last visit to the United States. He led his warriors against the Creeks in connection with Jackson in 1812. He signed as leading chief the treaty of Choctaw Trading House, Miss., Oct 24, 1816; of Treaty Ground, Miss., Oct. 18, 1820; and the Dancing Rabbit Creek, Miss., Sept. 27, 1830. He died of smallpox at the agency in Arkansas, Sept 30, 1838. His name was later applied to a district in Indian Territory.
Pitchlynn, Peter Perkins. A prominent Choctaw chief of mixed blood, born at the Indian town of Hushookwa, Noxubee County, Mississippi, Jan. 30, 1806; died in Washington, D. C., Jan. 17, 1881. His father, John Pitchlynn, was a white man and an interpreter commissioned by Gen. Washington; his mother, Sophia Folsom, a Choctaw woman. While still a boy, seeing a partially educated member of his tribe write a letter, he resolved that he too would become educated, and although the nearest school was in Tennessee, 200 m. from his father’s cabin, he managed to attend it for a season. Returning home at the close of the first quarter, he found his people negotiating a treaty with the general Government. As he considered the terms of this treaty a fraud upon his tribe, he refused to shake hands with Gen. Jackson, who had the matter in charge in behalf of the Washington authorities. Subsequently he entered an academy at Columbia, Tenn., and finally was graduated at the University of Nashville. Although he never changed his opinion regarding the treaty, he became a strong friend of Jackson, who was a trustee of the latter institution. On returning to his home in Mississippi, Pitchlynn became a farmer, built a cabin, and married Miss Rhoda Folsom, a Choctaw, the ceremony being performed by a Christian minister. By his example and influence polygamy was abandoned by his people. He was selected by the Choctaw council in 1824 to enforce the restriction of the sale of spirituous liquors according to the treaty of Doaks Stand, Miss., Oct. 18, 1820, and in one year the traffic had ceased. As a reward for his services he was made a captain and elected a member of the National Council, when the United States Government determined to remove the Choctaw, Chickasaw, and Creeks w.. of the Mississippi. His first proposition in that body was to establish a school, and, that the students might become familiar with the manners and customs of white people, it was located near Georgetown, Ky., rather than within the limits of the Choctaw country. Here it flourished for many years, supported by the funds of the nation. Pitchlynn was appointed one of the delegation sent to Indian Territory in 1828 to select the lands for their future homes and to make peace with the Osage, his tact and courage making his mission entirely successful. He later emigrated to the new reservation with his people and built a cabin on Arkansas river Pitchlynn was an admirer of Henry Clay, whom he met for the first time in 1840. He was ascending the Ohio in a steamboat when Mr. Clay came on board at Maysville. The Indian went into the cabin and found two farmers earnestly engaged in talking about their crops. After listening to them with great delight for more than an hour, he turned to his traveling companion, to whom he said: “If that old farmer with an ugly face had only been educated for the law, he would have made one of the greatest men in this country.” He soon learned that the “old farmer” was Henry Clay. Charles Dickens, who met Pitchlynn on a steamboat on the Ohio river in 1842, gives an account of the interview in his American Notes, and calls him a chief; but he was not elected principal chief until 1860. In this capacity he went to Washington to protect the interests of his tribesmen, especially to prosecute their claims against the Government. At the breaking out of the Civil War Pitchlynn returned to Indian Territory, and although anxious that his people should remain neutral, found it impossible to induce them to maintain this position; indeed three of his sons espoused the Confederate cause. He himself remained a Union man to the end of the war, notwithstanding the fact that the Confederates raided his plantation of 600 acres and captured all his cattle, while the emancipation proclamation freed his 100 slaves. He was a natural orator, as his address to the President at the White House in 1855, his speeches before the congressional committees in 1868, and one delivered before a delegation of Quakers at Washington in 1869, abundantly prove. In 1865 he returned to Washington, where he remained as the agent of his people until his death, devoting attention chiefly to pressing the Choctaw claim for lands sold to the United States in 1830. In addition to the treaty of 1820, above referred to, he signed the treaty of Dancing Rabbit, Miss., Sept. 27, 1830, and the treaty of Washington, June 20, 1855, he also witnessed, as principal chief, that of Washington, Apr. 28, 1866. Pitchlynn’s first wife having died, he married, at Washington, Mrs. Caroline Lombardy, a daughter of Godfrey Eckloff, who with two sons and one daughter survive him, the children by the first marriage having died during their father’s lifetime. Pitchlynn became a member of the Lutheran Memorial Church at Washington, and was a regular attendant until his last illness. He was a prominent member of the Masonic order, and on his death the funeral services were conducted in its behalf by Gen. Albert Pike. A monument was erected over his grave in Congressional Cemetery by the Choctaw Nation. In 1842 Pitchlynn was described by Dickens as a handsome man, with black hair, aquiline nose, broad cheek-bones, sunburnt complexion, and bright, keen, dark, and piercing eyes. He was fairly well read, and in both speaking and writing used good English. He was held in high esteem both by the members of his tribe and by all his Washington acquaintances. See also Lanman, Recollections of Curious Characters, 1881.
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