There appears to have been very little lamenting or mourning on the occasion of a death or a burial. The body was borne to the grave and the interment took place without a ceremony of any sort. In the event of the death of a man of great importance, however, the body was allowed to remain in state for a day before burial. During that time it was decorated with various ornaments and garments, but these were removed before interment. Such objects are said to have been preserved and handed down from one generation to the next, and used whenever required. Usually a hunter’s gun was placed in the grave with the body. For a much larger work on death and burial practices amongst the Choctaw see: Introduction to the Study of Mortuary Customs Among the North American Indians Mourning Practices of the Choctaw The period of mourning varied with the age of the deceased. For a child or young person it was about three months, but for an older person, as one s mother or father, from six months to one year. As the Choctaw dealt with in this paper have been under the influence of the Roman Catholic Church for many years, it is not surprising that they have modified some of their primitive beliefs regarding the future state. But even in spite of Christian teaching many...Read More
Location: St. Tammany Parish LA
St. Tammany parish, Louisiana, borders on the northern shore of Lake Pontchartrain and is bounded on the east by the State of Mississippi, from which it is separated by Pearl River. In the southern part of the parish are many bayous that flow into Lake Pontchartrain. Extensive marshes and swamps are found between the bayous, in which flourish the magnolia, live oak, black gum, cypress, and palmetto, and vast quantities of Spanish moss hang from the branches of many trees. Back from the swamps and bayous, on slightly higher ground, is one unbroken stretch of forests of longleaf pine (pl. 1). Deer, otter, and mink are still to be found; opossums, raccoons, squirrels, and rabbits are very numerous; and ducks, quail, and wild turkeys are killed in large numbers. The climate is mild during the winter; there is but little frost, and rarely a few flakes of snow fall. The summers are long and hot. As a whole the section is very healthful. At the present time the Choctaw have two settlements within the limits of the parish: one near Bayou Lacomb, the other at Pearl River station, on the right bank of the river, about twelve miles from its mouth. Only a few members, a mere remnant, of the tribe now live in this...Read More
Unfortunately very little is known of the history of the people of whom this paper treats. The earliest writers, as well as the oldest maps of the region, designate the Ncolapissa as the tribe occupying the region now included within the limits of St. Tammany parish, at the time of the discovery and settlement of lower Louisiana by the French. The Acolapissa were so closely connected with the Choctaw proper that it is not possible now to distinguish between them. They spoke the same language, probably with only slight local variations. Their manners and customs, in all probability, were similar to a great extent. One of the earliest definite references to the region is contained in the Relation of Pénicauta 1Margry, Découvertes, v, 459, Paris, 1883. , a touching on a period when there was a general movement among the Southern tribes. It is stated thus: At this same time  the Colapissas, who dwelt on a little river called Talcateha, four leagues distant from the shore of Lake Pontchartrain, went to live on its banks at the place named Castembayouque. The river “Talcatcha “is the present Pearl river, and, as will be seen, the distance of the “Colapissas” village up the river from Lake Pontchartrain is the same as that of the present Choctaw settlement. The Choctaw name of their own settlement is Hatcha, a name applied also...Read More
Several mounds are found within the Bayou Lacomb area. The largest of these is situated about 200 yards north of the right bank of Chinchuba creek, and about 1½ miles in a direct line north of Lake Pontchartrain. The mound has an elevation of between 4 and 5 feet; it is circular in form and has an average diameter of approximately 90 feet. A trench was run from near the center of the mound, extending northeast 47 feet and continuing beyond the edge of the artificial work. This was evidently a domiciliary mound. Two fire beds were discovered. The...Read More
Kwanoka’sha 1This legend, as related to the writer by Abojcobe (Emil John), is given by the Choctaw as explaining why some men do good and help others, while many are ignorant and harm those whom they should assist. The existence of a “spirit” such as Kwanoka’sha was evidently believed firmly by all, as it is by the few now living at Bayou Lacosnb. The child remains with the spirits three days, after which he returns to his home, but does not tell where he has been or what he has seen and heard. Not until the child has become a man will he make use of the knowledge gained from the spirits; but never will he reveal to others how it was acquired. The Choctaw say that few children wait to accept the offering of the good herbs from the third spirit, and hence there are comparatively few great doctors and other men of influence among them. is the name of a little spirit—a man, but no larger than a child two or three years of age. His home is in a cave under large rocks, in a rough, broken part of the country. Now, when a child is two or three or even four years old, it is often sick, and then runs away from its home and goes among the trees. When the little one is well...Read More
The marriage ceremony as performed until a few years ago, at a time when there were many Choctaw living in the region, was thus described by the women at Bayou Lacomb. When a man decided he wanted to marry a certain girl he confided in his mother, or if she was not living, in his nearest female relative. It was then necessary for her to talk with the mother or the nearest living relative of the girl, and if the two women agreed, they in turn visited the chiefs or heads of the two ogla, or families, to get their consent to the union. As a man was not allowed to marry a girl who belonged to his ogla, often the women were obliged to make a long journey before seeing the two chiefs, whose villages were frequently a considerable distance apart. After all necessary arrangements had been made, a day was fixed for the ceremony. Many of the man’s friends and relatives accompanied him to the girl’s village, where they seem to have had what may be termed “headquarters” of their own. As the time for the ceremony drew near, the woman with her friends was seen some distance away. The man and his party approached and he endeavored to catch the girl. Then ensued much sham fighting and wrestling between the two parties, and the girl ran...Read More
Kashehotapalo 1This myth was told by Ahojeobe at Bayou Lacomb in March, 1909, and he assured the writer that only a few days before one of the boys, while hunting in a swamp not far from the bayou, had been frightened by Kashehotapalo, whom he saw distinctly, and that he immediately ran home and related his experience. The great similarity between the subject of this myth and the Faun of Latin mythology at first glance would lead one to suspect that the conception had been acquired by the Choctaw after their contact with Europeans. But such does not appear to have been its origin with the tribe. So firmly convinced are they that such a spirit exists that it is probable the tradition has been handed down through many generations. is neither man nor beast. His head is small and his face shriveled and evil to look upon; his body is that of a man. His legs and feet are those of a deer, the former being covered with hair and the latter having cloven hoofs. He lives in low, swampy places, away from the habitations of men. When hunters go near his abiding place, he quietly slips up behind them and calls loudly, then turns and runs swiftly away. He never attempts to harm the hunters, but delights in frightening them. The sound uttered by Kashehotapalo resembles the...Read More
The Okwa naholo (“White People of the Water”) dwell in deep pools in rivers and bayous. There is said to be such a place in the Abita River; the pool is clear and cold and it is easy to see far down into the depths, but the surrounding water of the river is dark and muddy. Many of the Okwa naholo live in this pool, which is known to all the Choctaw. 1Heleema (Louisa), one of the women living at Bayou Lacomb, claims that when a child, some forty years ago, she had an experience with the Okwa naholo. She related it with the greatest sincerity. One summer day, when she was seven or eight years of age, she was swimming in the Ahita with many other Choctaw children. She was a short distance away from the others when suddenly she felt the Okwa naholo drawing her down. The water seemed to rise about her and she was struggling and endeavoring to free herself when some of her friends, realizing her danger and the cause of it, went to her assistance and, seizing her by the hair, drew her to the shore. Never again did the children go swimming near the pool where this incident occurred. As their name signifies, the Okwa naholo resemble white people more than they do Choctaw; their skin is rather light in color, resembling...Read More
It had been a dry season and there was very little food for Deer, consequently he had become thin and rather weak. One day Deer met ‘Possum and exclaimed: “Why! ‘Possum, how very fat you are. How do you keep so fat when I can not find enough to eat?” And ‘Possum answered, “I live on persimmons, and as they are unusually large this year, I have all I want to eat.” “But how do you get persimmons, which grow so high above the ground?” “That is very easily done,” replied ‘Possum. “I go to the top of a high hill and, running swiftly down, strike a persimmon tree so hard with my head that all the ripe persimmons fall to the ground. Then I sit there and eat and eat until I can not hold more.” “Indeed, that is easily done,” answered Deer; “now watch me.” So ‘Possum waited near the tree while Deer went to the top of a near-by hill. And when Deer reached the top of the hill, he turned and then ran quickly down, striking the tree with so great force that he was killed and all his bones were broken. When ‘Possum saw what Deer had done, he laughed so hard that he stretched his mouth; which remains large even to this...Read More
One night a hunter killed a doe and soon afterward fell asleep near the carcass. The next morning, just at sunrise, the hunter was surprised and startled to see the doe raise her head and to hear her speak, asking him to go with her to her home. At first he was so surprised that he did not know what to reply, so the doe again asked him whether he would go. Then the hunter said that he would go with her, although he had no idea where she would lead him. So they started and the doe led the hunter through forests and over high mountains, until at last they reached a large hole under a rock, which they entered. Here the hunter was led before the King of all the deer, an immense buck, with huge antlers and a large black spot on his back. Soon the hunter became drowsy and finally he fell asleep. Now all around the cave were piles of deer’s feet, antlers, and skins. While the hunter was asleep the deer endeavored to fit to his hands and feet deer’s feet which they selected for the purpose. After several unsuccessful attempts the fourth set proved to be just the right size and were fastened firmly on the hunter’s hands and feet. Then a skin was found that covered him properly, and finally antlers...Read More
One winter there were many hunters living in a village, all of whom, with one exception, had killed a great many deer. But one had met with very poor luck, and although always contrived to escape unharmed. He had been away from his village three days, and during that time had seen many deer, but had not been able to kill a single one. On the third day, when the sun was overhead, the hunter saw a huge alligator resting on a dry, sandy spot. This alligator had been without water for many days, and was dry and shriveled and so weak that he could scarcely speak. He was able, however, to ask the hunter where water could be had. The hunter replied, “In that forest, only a short journey hence, is a clear, deep pool of cold water.” “But I can not travel alone; I am too weak to go so far. Come nearer that we may talk and plan. I can not harm you; have no fear,” said the alligator. At last the hunter went nearer and listened to the alligator, who said: “I know you are a hunter, but all the deer escape from you. Now, carry me to the water and I will then make you a great hunter and tell you how to kill many, many deer.” The hunter hesitated, as he feared the...Read More
A man away from his village on a hunting trip had killed many deer and bears. One night he made a large fire of oak and soon was sleeping soundly, but before long he was aroused by the cry of an owl, and, looking up, he saw a huge owl standing over the fire. Then the hunter thought to himself, “What am I to do?” Thereupon the owl said to him, “So you wonder what you are to do,” and repeated every thought the hunter had. The owl was really Hoklonote’she, a bad spirit that can read men’s thoughts, and readily assumes the forms of various birds and animals. After the owl had stood there some time, repeating whatever thoughts were in the hunter’s mind, the latter suddenly jumped up and vigorously stirred the fire, causing the oak logs to send up a myriad of sparks that fell on the feathers of the owl and burned them. So badly frightened was Hoklonote’she that he flew away in haste, and never again troubled the...Read More
A young Choctaw girl was walking alone one day in the outskirts of the village when she suddenly met a young man whom she had never seen before. Soon he spoke to the girl and asked her to accompany him to his home. At first she refused, but at last he succeeded in persuading her to go with him. They passed through dense woods and over hills, and at last entered the yard that surrounded his house. Here various birds and animals were tied to the trees. As they were hungry, food was brought them, and then, and not until then, did the man assume his true character, and the girl saw the Devil before her. Then she became frightened and endeavored to escape, but before she could do so she was seized and locked in a small cave. A large frog hopped from a hole in the far corner of the cave, and going to the girl, said: “Do you know what that noise is?” “No,”replied the girl, “what is it?” The frog told her the Devil and his men were sharpening their knives to kill her. At this she became more frightened than before, but the frog quieted her by saying: “Now, if you will listen and do just as I say you will escape. I will open this door and thereupon you must run swiftly out...Read More
Late one afternoon several children were playing near their house when suddenly they saw a woman approaching. She was very old and stooping, and her hair was white. The children were greatly frightened and ran into the house, but soon returned to the old woman, who said to them: “Children, do not be afraid of me, for nothing will harm you. I am your great-great-great-grandmother, and neither you nor your mother has ever seen me. Now, go to the house and tell her that I have come.” The children did so. Then they took a deer skin and spread it on the ground for the old woman and carried her food and drink. She then asked the children when their father went to sleep and in which part of the house he lay, and the children told her all. That night, after all had gone to sleep, the old woman entered the house and cut off the man’s head, which she put into a basket she carried for that purpose; there she covered the man’s body with his blanket and quietly left the house. The next morning the man’s wife was surprised to find him asleep (as she supposed), since it was his custom to go hunting before sunrise. So she spoke to him, and as he did not answer she pulled off his blanket. When she saw that...Read More
Tashka and Walo were brothers who lived long ago. Every morning they saw the sun rise above the horizon, pass high overhead, and late in the day die in the west. When the boys were about four years old they conceived the idea of following the sun and seeing where he died. So the next day, when he was overhead, they started to follow him; but that night, when he died, they were still in their own country, where they knew the hills and the rivers. Then they slept, and in the morning when the sun was again overhead they once more set off to follow him. And thus they continued for many years to wend their way after the sun in his course through the heavens. Long, long afterward, when the two boys had become men, they reached a great expanse of water, and the only land they could see was the shore on which they were standing. Late that day, when Sun died, they saw him sink into the water; then they also passed over the water and entered Sun’s home with him. All about them they saw women—the stars are women and the moon is Sun’s wife. Then Moon asked the brothers how they had found their way so far from their home. They told her how for many, many years, ever since they were mere...Read More
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