Topic: Choctaw

Choctaw Duels

The duelist, according to the white man’s code of honor, was regarded by the Choctaws with utmost contempt, the fool above all fools; and in this, manifesting much better sense than the white man with all his boasted idea of honor. That a man would stand up openly before his enemy to be shot at with the opportunity of getting an open shot at him, was a code of honor beyond their comprehension, a piece of nonsense in the indulgence of which a Choctaw could not be guilty. I did once hear, however, of a young Choctaw warrior accepting a challenge from a white man in their nation east of the Mississippi River. A white man, who had been living in one of their, villages for several months, taking offense at something a young warrior had done, and well-knowing the repugnance with which the Choctaws regarded the white man’s code of honor, thought it a proper time to impress them with the belief that he was very brave, since he had but little to fear that he would be called upon to put it to the test; therefore, gave him a verbal challenge, in the presence of many other Choctaw warriors, to fight him a duel according to the white man s code; and to impress upon the minds of the by-standers that where there was so much bravery,...

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Choctaw Hunting Practices

Adair (p. 89) says; “the Choctaws, in an early day, practiced the custom of flattening the heads of their infants by compression, and were first known to the whites by the name of Flat Heads.” Be that as it may, the custom had long ceased to be practiced, when later known. Wherever they went, distant or otherwise, many or few, they always traveled in a straight line, one behind the other. (They needed no broad roads, nor had they any; hence, they dispensed with the necessity of that expense, road-working, so grudgingly bestowed by all white men. Paths alone, plain and straight, then led the Choctaws where now are broads roads and long high bridges, from village to neighborhood, and from neighborhood to village, though many miles apart; and so open and free of logs, bushes, and all fallen timber, was their country then, rendered thus by their annual burning off of the woods, it was an easy matter to travel in any direction and any distance, except through the vast cane-brakes that covered all the bottom lands, which alone could be passed by paths. On hunting excursions, when a party moved their camp to another point in the woods, whether far or near, they invariably left a broken bush with the top leaning in the direction they had gone, readily comprehended by the practiced eye of the Choctaw...

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Choctaw Homes & Women

They lived in houses made of logs, but very comfortable; not more rude or uncouth, however, than many of the whites even of the present day. Their houses consisted generally of two rooms, both of which were used for every domestic purpose cooking, eating, living and sleeping; nor was their furniture disproportionate with that of the dwelling for the sitting room, a stool or two; for the kitchen, a pot or kettle, two or three tin cups, a large and commodious wooden bowl, and a horn spoon, constituted about the ultimatum t’was all they needed, all they wanted, and with it they were perfectly contented and supremely happy. Tafula; (pro. Tarm-ful-ah,” hominy; corrupted to Tom-fuller), is made of pounded corn boiled, using lye for fermentation, and tafula tobi ibulhtoh (boiled corn mixed with beans) were, and are to the present day, favorite dishes among the Choctaws; nor need it be thought strange, as they are dishes Worthy the palate of the most fastidious. The tafula, their favorite and indispensable dish was put into a large bowl, around which all gathered, and each in turn using the horn spoon to replenish his waiting mouth with the coveted luxury. But little pains were taken in the preparation of their food, which was as rude, though clean and nice, as the means of preparing it. Having no tables or dishes, except the...

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Choctaw’s Endurance & Music

That the fore-fathers of the present Choctaws, Chickasaws, Cherokees and Muscogees migrated ages ago from Mexico to their ancient abodes east of the Mississippi River there can be scarcely a doubt; and that they were a branch of the Aztecs there is much in their ancient traditions and legends upon which to predicate, at least, a reasonable sup position, if not a belief. The Aztecs are regarded by some as the first of the human race that came to the North American continent, and by others as one of the oldest races of the human family upon earth, whose records and traditions point back to those of the books of Genesis and Jo. Though the historical legends of the above named tribes do not divide the ages past of their race into four epochs as the Aztecs, as Gam Dom Yasco Da, the Portuguese mariner and discoverer of the maritime route to India near the close of the 14th century, asserts; and the first of which terminated in a destruction of the people of the world by famine, the second by wind, the third by fire, and the fourth by water, (very similar to the traditions and legends of the Hindoos), yet they do point back to many historical facts of the Christian’s Bible, which have been handed down by tradition through ages and point to great and important...

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Choctaw Traditions – The Council Fire, The Nahullo

The faces of the Choctaw and Chickasaw men of sixty years ago were as smooth as a woman’s, in fact they had no beard. Sometimes there might be seen a few tine hairs (if hairs they might be called) here and there upon the face, but they were few and far between, and extracted with a pair of small tweezers whenever discovered. Oft have I seen a Choctaw warrior standing before a mirror seeking with untiring perseverance and unwearied eyes, as he turned his face at different angles to the glass, if by chance a hair could be found lurking there, which, if discovered, was instantly removed as an unwelcome intruder. Even today, a full blood Choctaw or Chickasaw with a heavy beard is never seen. I have seen a few, here and there, with a little patch of beard upon their chins, but it was thin and short, and with good reasons to suspect that white blood flowed in their veins. It is a truth but little known among the whites, that the North American Indians of untarnished blood have no hair upon any part of the body except the head. My knowledge of this peculiarity was confined, however, to the Choctaws and Chickasaws alone. But in conversation with an aged Choctaw friend upon this subject, and inquiring” if this peculiarity extended to all Indians, he replied; “To all,...

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The Natchez

On February 11th, 1700, De Iberville, Bienville, Perricaul and Tonti ascended the Mississippi River as far west as the present city of Natchez. They were kindly received (so states the journalist) by the great chief, or sun, as he was termed, surrounded by six hundred of his warriors, who, according to their own account, had formerly been a great nation. On the 13th the party left Natchez and visited the villages of the Taensas, the customs and habits of who were the same as the Natchez, being evidently a branch of the latter. During their stay the sacred temple of these Indians was struck by lightning and burned to ashes. To appease the Sun God, the poor, infatuated women threw themselves, and parents, their children, into the consuming flames of the burning temple. Perricaul, who was one of the witnesses of the fearful scene, thus wrote of it: “We left the Natchez and coasted along to the right, where the river is bordered with high, gravelly banks for a distance of twelve leagues. At the extremity of these bluffs is a place called Petit Gulf, on account of the whirlpool formed by the river for the distance of a quarter league. Eight leagues higher up we came to Grand Gulf, which we passed a short distance above, on the right hand side. We landed to visit a village four...

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The Natchez and the French

But alas for the poor Natchez! An evil day brought the pale-faces among them in the year 1716, who built the Fort Rosalie among them and in it garrisoned, as a matter of course, a body of soldiers as a protection in their intended aggressions upon and usurpations of the Indians rights; and from that day the sun of the Natchez’s happiness began to wane, but to speedily set forever in the oblivion of utter extermination. As an introduction, Cadillac, on his way up the Mississippi river to search for gold and silver, stopped at Natchez. As soon as the...

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Death of Cyrus Kingsbury

Early in the year 1820, an English traveler from Liverpool, named Adam Hodgson, who had heard of the Elliot mission when at home, visited the mission, though he had to turn from his main route of travel the distance of sixty miles. He, at one time on his sixty miles route, employed a Choctaw to conduct him ten or twelve miles on his new way, which he did, then received his pay and left him to finish his journey alone. Of this Choctaw guide Mr. Hodgson, as an example of noble benevolence and faithful trust, states: “After going about...

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Choctaw Traditions

It is stated of the Papagoes, 1known as the short-haired Indians of the Southwest that an ancient tradition of their tribe proclaims the coming of a Messiah by the name “Moctezuma.” They affirm that, in the ancient past, he lived in Casa Grande, the famous prehistoric temple on the Gila River; that his own people rebelled against him and threatened to kill him, and he fled to Mexico. But before leaving them he told them that they would experience great afflictions for many years, but eventually, at the time of their greatest need, he would return to them from the east with the rising sun; that he would then cause the rain to fall again upon their arid country, and make it bloom as a garden, and make his people to become the greatest on earth. Therefore, when Montezuma arrives, that he may see all the doors open and none closed against him, this humble people, with a pathetic faith, make the only entrance to their houses toward the east and leave the door always standing open that their Messiah may enter when he comes. During the years 1891, 1892 and 1893, a three years drought had destroyed their crops, dried up their water, cut off their supply of seeds, and killed great numbers of their cattle. Truly it was the time of their greatest suffering, and surely Montezuma...

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Important Men of the Choctaw Indians

The Choctaw Nation, from its earliest known history to the present time has, at different intervals, produced many great and good men; who, had they have had the advantages of education, would have lived upon the pages of history equally with those of earth’s illustrious great. The first of whom we have any historical account, is Tush-ka Lu-sa, (the heroic defender of Moma Bin-na, a Lodge for All corrupted first to Mobila, then to Mobile) who perished, with many thousands of his people, in that bloody tragedy of three and a half centuries ago, while de fending his ancient city against the Spaniards, nothing more however, has been handed down by which we can judge of his ability as a wise and judicious ruler, but the fact that De Soto found his Nation in a prosperous condition; his people dwelling in large and well fortified towns, comfortable houses, subsisting to a very large extent by the cultivation of the soil. But of the patriotism and undaunted bravery of Tush-ka Lusa, and his ability as a commander of his warriors, DeSoto had satisfactory proof at the battle of Momabinah. But so little of the history of those ancient Choctaws has escaped oblivion that in sketching a line of their history at such a distance of time we necessarily pass through un known fields so wide and diversified that it is like...

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The Two Friends – The Red And The White

During my travels in the Choctaw and Chickasaw Nations in 1884, I arrived one evening the 19th of June, at the quiet and unostentatious village of Doaksville one among the first towns located in their present country when arriving from their ancient domains east of the Mississippi river, in the year 1832. It soon became a place of considerable trade; but ultimately proving to be very sickly it was nearly abandoned; and, at the time I visited it, was but a relic of the past with Ichabod as an appropriate epitaph having only one small dry goods store and eight or ten resident houses. My object in visiting it was to find a Choctaw friend, one among the few then living and known as friend in the broadest sense of the word, in days of the long ago. On entering the little place I found many Choctaws there of both sexes and of all ages, the store full within and its immediate environments covered with diversified groups of men, women and children sitting and standing. I asked a Choctaw man standing near, if he knew Henry Folsom, and if he was in the town? Looking around a moment he pointed to a group of men a short distance away and said: “Yum-mun-o (that one) chish-no (you) pisah (see) pil-lah (yonder). Dismounting I slowly walked towards the group with fixed...

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Dutch Johnnie

Several Choctaw companies joined Washington’s army during our Revolutionary war, and served during the entire war; some of them were at the battle of Cowpens, under General Morgan; others, at the battle of Stony Point, under General Wayne, and others, at the battle of Tilico Plains, under General Sullivan, sent by General Green to punish the Tories and northern Cherokees (at that time the only Cherokees hostile to the Americans) for the destruction of Fort Loudon, situated on the Tennessee river in the territories then of North Carolina, whom he overtook at Tilico Plains, engaged and routed, with great loss on the part of the stories and Cherokees, also securing the women and children whom they taken had prisoners in the fall of Fort Loudon, and devastating the country of the hostile Cherokees as he went, in driving them, (Tories and Cherokees) through Deep Creek Gap, in Cumberland mountains, into the now State of Kentucky; and there ending the pursuit, Sullivan returned and joined his command near Yorktown. It is said, those Cherokees never did return to their former homes, but became incorporated with other Indians in Kentucky; others, were under Washington at the capture of Yorktown, and witnessed the surrender of Cornwallis. An amusing incident was related to me when in the Choctaw Nation in 1888, in which a Choctaw scout, under General Sullivan, previous to the defeat of the Tories and Cherokees at Tilico Plains, was the chief hero. This scout, from his short and thickset...

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Apushamatahah – A Choctaw Chief

The distinguished warrior and chief of the Choctaws, Apushamatahah, were born, as near as can be ascertained, in the year 1764. He was of the Iksa, called Kun-sha 1A reed the name of the creek along whose banks the Kun-sha Clan dwelt. Kunsha-a-he 2reed potato is the full name of the clan, which took its name from the thick reeds and wild potatoes that grew together in the marshy ground along the banks of the creek Cane and Potato creek. At an early age Apushamatahah 3For the sake of brevity the ubi is dropped acquired great celebrity among his...

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The Meeting of Folsom and Nittakachih

When the council, convened for the adjustment and final distribution of the annuity, adjourned in such confusion, together with the animosity manifested and openly expressed by both contending parties the one toward the other, (a similar scene never before witnessed in a Choctaw council) I feared the consequences that I was apprehensive would follow; but hoped that the conflicting opinions then agitating my people would be harmonized upon calm reflection and the adoption of wise and judicious measures. But when I ascertained that Nittakachih and Amosholihubih were truly assembling their warriors, I began to view the matter in its true and proper light. I knew those two chiefs too well to longer doubt the full interpretations of their designs as set forth in their actions; for they both were men who indulged not in meaningless parade, or delighted in empty display. Inevitable war kindred against kindred and brother against brother with all its horrors and irreparable consequences now seemed to stare me in the face, with no alternative but to speedily prepare to meet it; therefore Le Flore and myself, after due deliberation, resolved, if we must fight, to confine the fighting as much as possible within Amosholihubih’s and Nittakachih’s own districts. We at once took up our line of march south toward Demopolis, which was in the district of Amosholihubih, and where they had assembled their warriors. At...

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Memoirs of the LeFlore Family

The Cravat families of Choctaws are the descendants of John Cravat, a Frenchman, who came among the Choctaws at an early day, and was adopted among them by marriage. He had two daughters by his Choctaw wife, Nancy and Rebecca, both of whom became the wives of Louis LeFlore. His Choctaw wife dying he married a Chickasaw woman, by whom he had four sons, Thomas, Jefferson, William and Charles, and one daughter, Elsie, who married- a white man by the name of Daniel Harris, and who became the parents of Col. J. D. Harris, whose first wife was Catharine Nail,...

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