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The Life of Okah Tubbee

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Mó-sho-la-túb-bee, He Who Puts Out and Kills, Chief of the (Choctaw) Tribe, by George Catlin, 1834
Mó-sho-la-túb-bee, He Who Puts Out and Kills, Chief of the (Choctaw) Tribe, by George Catlin, 1834

The first recollections of my childhood are scenes of sorrow; though I have an imperfect recollection of a kind father, who was a very large man, with dark red skin, and his head was adorned with feathers of a most beautiful plumage. I seem to have been happy then, and remember the green woods, and that he took me out at night, and taught me to look up to the stars, and said many things to me that made my young heart swell with sweet nope, as it filled with thoughts too large for it to retain. This scene soon changed, for I had a new father, or a man who took me to a new home, which proves to have been Natchez, Mississippi. I have no recollection where this intercourse took place with my own father, but from various circumstances which have since occurred, I am led to believe that it must have been upon the Dancing Rabbit Creek, (Tombigbee) before the Choctaws removed from their old homes. I soon found this was not my own father, neither in appearance nor in action, and began to understand that I could have but one father. This man was white, and a slave woman had the management of his house; she had two children, who were older than myself, a boy and a girl; she was very fond of them, but was never even kind to me, yet they obliged me to call her mother. I was always made to serve the two children, though many times I had to be whipped into obedience. If I had permission to go out an hour to play, I chose to be alone, that I might weep over my situation; but even this consolation was refused me. I was forced to go in company with them, taking with me, many times, a smarting back, after a promise had been extorted from me that I would remain with them and obey them. I soon found myself boxing heartily with the boys, both white and black, because they called me nigger, and everything but that which was true, for I could not and would not submit to such gross insults without defending myself, which is so characteristic of the red man. Her children were well dressed and neat; I was not only in rags, but many times my proud heart seemed crushed within me, and my cheek crimsoned with shame because of their filthy condition, and I often left them off in consequence, but soon learned to take them off and wash them myself, such was my abhorrence of filth. I was compelled to go in a naked state to enable me to wash my clothes, and they upbraided me for my nakedness, but I replied, where did you ever see or hear of a child being born with clothes on? I was then a child too young to work, but did errands.


 

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