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Treaty of 1832 against the Chickasaws

But, as that of the Choctaw country, so it may equally and truly be said that a more beautiful and richer country could not be portrayed on the canvass of nature than was also that of the Chickasaws now forming the north half of the State of Mississippi. They, as the Choctaws, annually burned the grass of their forests throughout their entire country; and thus the landscape was unobscured by any wood undergrowth whatever, while the tall forest trees, standing so thick as to shade the entire ground, spread their giant arms over the thick carpet of grass beneath, variegated with innumerable flowers of all colors arraying the earth in wild beauty, and filling the air with fragrance; while the incessant and merry warbling of their untaught orchestra (nature s dowry) from the unwearied throats of innumerable and gaily plumaged birds, fascinated the scene and made the heart glad; and in the autumn season, the Indian summer of those days of seventy-five years ago, when the sun rose a coppered disk casting no shadow until risen several degrees above the horizon; then, as it declined toward the west, passing through all shades from a bright gold to blood red and becoming invisible an hour or two before it sank below the western sky; nature was still not without its attractive beauties, though the foliage had changed to bronze by the kiss of winter frosts; on every side grapes, Muscatine’s, plums, persimmons of excellent flavor, and other autumnal fruits in rich profusion greeted the eye and gratified the taste of the most fastidious, while the reproachful chattering and nimble gambols...

Chickasaw Courtship and Dance

The ancient manner of Chickasaw courtship was not very taxing upon the sensitiveness of the bashful, perspective groom; since, when he wished to make known to any young lady of his tribe the emotions of his heart in regard to her, he had but to send a small bundle of clothing carefully tied up in a large cotton handkerchief (similar in dimensions to a medium-sized table cloth, very common in those primitive days of ignorant bliss, when fashion and folly were unknown) by his mother or sister to the girl he desired to make his wife. This treasure of acknowledged love was immediately taken possession of by the mother of the wished-for bride and kept for a few days before presenting it to her daughter; and when presented, if accepted, it was a bona fide acknowledgement on her part of her willingness to accept him as her husband, of which confession he was at once duly notified; if otherwise, the subject was there and then forever dropped, and the disappointed and disconsolate swain found consolation in the privilege extended to all such cases, that of presenting another bundle of clothes wrapped in a similar mantle of cotton, to some other forest beauty in which his country-so profusely abounded. But best of all, the swain, whether bold or timid, was always spared that fearful and dreaded ordeal of soliciting the “yes” of the old folks,” as his mother took that imperative and obnoxious duty upon herself, and was almost always successful in the accomplishment of the desired object. The coast being clear of all breakers, the elated lover painted his...

Chickasaw Districts, Death, and Doctors

Up to the time the Chickasaws moved west (1836- 38), their country was divided into three districts, viz: Tishomingo, Sealy and McGilvery. At the time of their exodus west to their present places of abode, Tishomingo (properly Tishu Miko, chief officer or guard of the king) was the chief of the Tishu Miko district; Samuel Sealy, of the Sealy district, and William McGilvery, of the McGilvery district. The Chickasaw ruler was styled king instead of chief and his chief officer was called Tishu Miko. Ishtehotohpih was the reigning king at the time they left their ancient places of abode east of the Mississippi river for those west. He died in 1840. He was the last of the Chickasaw rulers who bore the title, king. After his death the monarchical form of government, which was hereditary, as I was informed by Governor Cyrus Harris, was abolished, and the form of Republicanism adopted. The power of their kings was very circumscribed, being only about equal to that of their present governor. The king’s wife was called queen, but clothed with no authority what ever, and regarded only as other Chickasaw women. That Tishu Miko was a wise counselor and brave warrior among the Chickasaws is about all that has escaped oblivion, as little has been preserved of his life by tradition or otherwise. He was the acting Tishu Miko of Ishtehotohpih at the time of the removal of his people to the west. He died in 1839, the year before his royal master. He was appointed during life as one of the chief counselors to Ishtehotohpih; and when he advised the...

Laws of the Chickasaw Tribe

The ancient Chickasaw divisions of the tribe were called Yakissah, (here stops). In reference to family connections in marrying they were the same as the Choctaws, No persons of the same Yakissah were allowed to marry. Also they have been called In Chukka Holhtenah Hochifo, most frequently abbreviated to Inchukka holhte chifo, his house (or clan) is numbered and named; and with the same reference as Yakissah, and also Iksa of the Choctaws. If a man violated the law by marrying a woman of his own Yakissah (or house), he forfeited his own rights and privileges, and also his children of the same; but the wife forfeited nothing. The Chickasaws, like their brethren, the Choctaws, never betrayed any trust reposed in them. No matter what whether of great value or of little consequence, was left in their charge to be taken care of, that confidence was never betrayed. They were true to their friendship, never being the first to violate its sacred ties; yet bitter their animosity, even as all the fallen race of unfortunate Adam. But like all their race of the long ago, they too possessed but little idea of compensation; therefore were easily made the victims of unprincipled white traders who well knew how to defraud them, and had no compunctions of conscience to use that knowledge to their own pecuniary advantage, though to the utter impoverishment of the Indian. But the Chickasaws, beginning to realize that they received very little in re turn for a very large amount given, adopted a very proper plan, as they thought, to test the honesty of all white traders,...

Choctaw and Chickasaw War Preparations

It was a general custom among all the southern Indians, and no doubt of the northern Indians also, when they believed a just cause of war against another tribe had presented itself, to pursue a certain preliminary course, though similar to a great extent, yet must be regarded as having its origin in a custom which became the law of Nations. In all such cases the old men of the Nation constituted the council of war, who deliberated with great gravity and solemnity upon a question involving such momentous and dubious results. But in all their deliberations, whether issues of the highest or lowest importance were at stake, the one speaking was never interrupted under any circumstance; and even in social conversation but one talked while the others listened in profound silence and with strict attention. This was a universal characteristic among all southern Indians, which I have learned by personal observation among the Chickasaws and Choctaws during a life of over seventy-five years, and also by reliable information from others who-lived for many years among other tribes; and it was difficult for them to reconcile the chattering of the whites in their social gatherings with their ideas of propriety and good sense, when hearing them all talking at the same time, to them apparently without a listener. DuPratz, in 1716, when speaking of this noble characteristic of the southern Indians, says he had often noticed the smile that played upon the lips of the Natchez Indians, on many occasions, and had asked them the reason, but in variably received the same reply “What is it to you? Finally one,...

Chickasaw Religion

The ancient Chickasaws, unlike their kindred, the Choctaws, entertained no superstitious views in regard to the eclipse of the sun or moon; regarding it as a phenomenon inexplicable, and to be the height of folly to be alarmed and worried over that which they had no control a sensible conclusion indeed. They called an eclipse, either of sun or moon, hushi luma (sun hidden). Sometimes a total eclipse of the sun was termed hushi illi (dead sun), and sometimes hushi kunia (lost sun). They called the moon hushi ninak aya (the sun of the night). The traditions of the Chickasaws are silent in regard to the flood; at least nothing has been preserved upon that subject rather strange! Since the Choctaws, to whom they were so closely allied by consanguinity, and the Cherokees, Muskogee’s, Shawnees and many other tribes spoke of it in their traditions. Pakitakohlih (hanging grapes), from which the present town Pontotoc, Mississippi, derived its name, was a town known to the French, in the days of Bienville, by the name Chikasahha; and afterwards to the English as “Chickasaw Old Town”; then to the Americans as “The Chickasaw Old Fields”; and was, according to Chickasaw tradition (no doubt correct) the same “Old Town” in which De Soto wintered with his army in 1540, and over whose heads the Chickasaws burned to expel him from their territories, after his insolent and unjust demand; but which they afterwards rebuilt. The venerable “Old Town” was known to the Spaniards at an early day by the name Chicaco; and truly no spot of ground in the Southern States has deservingly greater military...

Choctaw and Chickasaw Traditions

After the French lost their claimed possessions upon the North American continent and were driven there from, the Chickasaws, from that time to the present, have been at peace with the world of mankind; and though they never wholly recovered from the long devastating wars with the French, yet they fully maintained their independence to the last. Their country lay adjoining the Choctaws on the north; and, like that of the Choctaws, was as fertile and beautiful a country as the eyes of man ever looked upon; as it appeared under their own and Nature’s rule, it indeed possessed a charm that fascinated the admirers and lovers of the grand and the beautiful. There was a beauty bordering on the sublime in the spring, as nature unfolded and spread out her forest robes; also, a loveliness in the summer, with her shady hills and valleys; a quiet, too, in the calm and mellow autumn, with the variegated hues, falling leaves and tranquil scenes, which language cannot depict, or even imagination conceive. With no undergrowth whatever the great variety of majestic trees of centuries growth covered the hills and valleys; yet with the ground everywhere concealed under a thick carpet of grass one to two feet high, intermixed, especially on the prairies, with wild flowers of every shade of color, covering the face of the entire earth. In the months of April and May strawberries were found profusely scattered amid the grass of the undulating prairies that lay along the banks of their rivers and creeks, and here and there scattered amid the hills and valleys of their forests; then summer...

Natchez Trace

In 1792, in a council held at Chickasaw Bluffs, where Memphis, Tennessee, is now located, a treaty was made with the Chickasaws, in which they granted the United States the right of way through their territory for a public road to be opened from Nashville, Tennessee, to Natchez, Mississippi. This road was long known, and no doubt, remembered by many at the present time by the name “Natchez Trace.” It crossed the Tennessee River at a point then known as “Colberts Ferry,” and passed through the present counties of Tishomingo, Ittiwamba, Lee, Pantotoc, Chickasaw, Choctaw, thence on to Natchez, and soon became the great and only thoroughfare for emigrants passing from the older states to Mississippi, Louisiana and South Arkansas. Soon after its opening, it was crowded by fortune seekers and adventurers of all descriptions and characters, some as bad as it was possible for them to be, and none as good as they might be. One of the most noted desperadoes in those early days of Mississippi’s history was a man named Mason, who, with his gang of thieves and cut-throats, established himself at a point on the Ohio river then called “The Cave in the Rock,” and about one hundred miles above its junction with the Mississippi river. There, under the disguise of keeping a store for the accommodation of emigrants, keel and flat boatmen passing up and down the river, he enticed them into his power, murdered and robbed them; then sent their boats and contents to New Orleans, through the hands of his accomplices to be sold. He, at length, left “The Cave in the Rock,”...

Vaundreuil and the Chickasaws

At this juncture of affairs, May 10th 1743, the marquis of Vaudreuil arrived at New Orleans, and assumed command of the colonies, Bienville having been again deposed. As soon as the Chickasaws learned that Bienville had been superceded by a new governor, they sent four of their chiefs, at the close of the year 1743, to sue for peace; but Vaudreuil informed them he would enter into no treaty with them, unless they would drive all English traders from their territories; and not even then would he treat with them unless in concert with the Choctaws. Thus again were the Chickasaws baffled in their efforts to make peace! The four chiefs then requested time to lay his terms of peace before their, people. Early in the following year, the Chickasaws again sent an embassy to Vaudreuil and informed him they would accept his first proposition, if he would supply them with goods and ammunition as the English had done, but still Vaudreuil would take no action in the matter without first obtaining the sanction of the Choctaws. Great indeed was his surprise in learning that the Chickasaws and Choctaws were at that very time endeavoring to establish peace between himself, without his knowledge. Such a thing the French from the first had labored to prevent; therefore Vaudreuil determined at once to defeat the object, if possible, of all such negotiations between the two long hostile Nations, and immediately went to work for the accomplishment of that end; first, by postponing the making of a treaty himself with the Chickasaws; second, by using every means, right or wrong, to again revive the...

The Chickasaw War of 1739

Through the instigation of The French the war was continued between the seemingly infatuated and blinded Choctaws and Chickasaws during the entire year 1737, yet without any perceptibly advantageous results to either. A long and bitter experience seemed wholly inadequate to teach them the selfish designs of the French. No one can believe the friendship of the French for the Choctaws was unassumed. They were unmerciful tyrants by whatever standard one may choose to measure them, and without a redeeming quality as far as their dealings with the North American Indians go to prove; and their desire for the good of that race of people utterly out of the question; and with equal truth may the same be affirmed of the entire White Race, whose universal opinion was just wise enough to measure the Red Race by the standard found in their own souls; therefore the North American Indians were called savages, and have been so denominated to this day, and are now made the foundation of innumerable and ridiculous myths. But Bienville, still chafing like an enraged bear, under the mortification of his defeat by the brave and patriotic Chickasaws, which but increased his desire and determination to destroy them and blot out their very name, devoted the year 1739 to preparation for another exterminating invasion into the country of that seemingly indomitable people; and, as an introductory step to the more successful accomplishment and full realization of his designs, he sent an embassy, in March 1739, to the Choctaws to conciliate their good will and obtain their aid. And strange as it may appear, Bienville secured thirty-two villages out of forty-two to the interests of the French, while, through the...
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