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Topic: Choctaw

Choctaw Tradition of the Flood

The tradition, as related by wise men of the Choctaw Nation, about the flood, is as follows: A long continued night came upon the land, which created no small degree of fear and uneasiness among the people. Their fears were increased at seeing the terrible buffaloes, and the fleet deer making their appearance, and after them the bears and panthers, wolves, and others approaching their habitations; suspicious at first of their intentions, they thought of placing themselves beyond the reach of the more dangerous animals, but instead of exhibiting any disposition of ferocity, they seemed rather to claim protection at their hands. This presented an opportunity of having a jubilee of feasting, and they therefore indulged themselves to the fullest bent of their propensity and inclinations by an indiscriminate massacre of the animals. Having thus feasted for some time, they at last saw daylight appearing. But what surprised them much, was, they saw it coming from the north. They were at a loss what to think of it. They, however, supposed that the sun must have missed his path, and was coming up from another direction, which caused the unusual long night, or perhaps he had purposely changed his course, to rise hereafter in the north instead of the east. While such conjectures were making, some fast runners arrived as messengers coming from the direction of the sup posed...

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Ancient Choctaw Courtship

When the young Choctaw beau went the first time to see his Fair One, after having resolved upon matrimony, he tested his own standing in the estimation of his anticipated bride by indifferently walking into the room where she is seated with the rest of the family, and, during the general conversation, he sought and soon found an opportunity to shoot, slyly and unobserved, a little stick or small pebble at her. She soon ascertained the source whence they came, and fully comprehended the signification of those little messengers of love. If approved, she returned them as slyly and silently as they came. If not, she suddenly sprang from her seat, “turned a frowning face of disapproval upon him and silently left the room. That ended the matter, though not a word had been spoken between them. But when the little tell-tales skipped back to him from her fingers, followed by a pair of black eyes peeping out from under their Long silken eyelashes, he joy fully comprehended the import and, in. a few minutes, arose and, as he started toward the door, he repeated his informal Ea li’ (I go), upon which a response of assent was given by the father or mother in the equally informal ‘Omih‘ (very well). He returned in two or three days, however, with a few presents for the parents, and to secure...

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Choctaw Mesmerism, Eclipses, and Dances

Mesmerism was known among the Choctaw, though they regarded it with wonder and dread, and it was looked upon as injurious and hurtful in its results; while those who practiced this curious art had often to pay very dearly for it, for they were frequently put to death. Ventriloquism has also been found among them, and used solely for vain, selfish and evil designs, but to the great danger of the life of the person practicing it, for the Choctaws believe that whatever appears supernatural, is suspicious and likely at any time to be turned to evil purposes. Eclipses...

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Biographical Sketch of Judge Loring Folsom

Judge Loring Folsom, now the only surviving child of Colonel David Folsom and his first wife, Rhoda Nail, was long one of the leading men of the Choctaw Nation, but retired from the political arena several years ago, and has ever since been living in peace and quiet on his farm one and a half miles south of the town of Caddo, which took its name from a tribe of Indians whom the Choctaws defeated in battle on a group of high hills at the base of which Judge Loring Folsom now lives. This was the last battle in which the Choctaws were ever engaged as a Nation. In this the sun of their military glory went down to be followed by no returning morn. But no study is needed to ascertain that Judge Loring Folsom is also a genuine man; a man from all dissimulation free a characteristic so notable of the Choctaws and ever wearing a cheerful face, so indicative of the warm feelings of a kind and generous friend. His natural disposition is remarkably amiable, being endowed with a gentleness of manner and delicacy of feeling, which to the casual observer would not at first indicate that inflexible firmness which he always manifests in determining questions of duty. He filled the high and responsible position of Circuit Judge in his district for nearly twenty years, with...

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Choctaw Religion

The Choctaw never worshiped idols, or any works of their own hands, as other savage nations. They believed in the existence of a Great Spirit, and that He possessed super-natural power, and was omnipresent, but they did not deem that He expected or required any form of worship of them. They had no idea of God as taught by revealed religion no conception of His manifold mercies, or the atonement made for sin. All they felt was a dread of His attributes and character, made (manifest to them by the phenomena of the heavens. But in common with the believers of the Scriptures, they held the doctrine of future rewards and punishments. They differed from them, however, as to the location of heaven and their views of happiness and misery. Heaven, or the happy hunting grounds, in their imagination, was similar to the Elysian fields of the heathen mythology. There the spirit of those who had been virtuous, honest and truthful, while on earth, enjoyed, in common with youthful angels, all manner of games and voluptuous pleasures, with no care, no sorrow, nothing but one eternal round of enjoyment. They believed that angels or spirits seldom visited the earth, and cared but very little about doing so, as being supplied in heaven with everything suitable to their wants, nothing was required from the earth. According to their notion, heaven...

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Choctaw Law Forbidding White-Indian Marriage

Of the Choctaws regulating the marriage of white men to the Choctaw women: Whereas, the Choctaw Nation is being filled up with white persons of worthless characters by so-called marriages to the great injury of the Choctaw people. Section 1st. Be it enacted by the General Council of the Choctaw Nation assembled: That the peace and prosperity of the Choctaw people require that any white man or citizen of the United States, or of any foreign government, desiring to marry a Choctaw woman, citizen of the Choctaw Nation, shall be and is hereby required to obtain a license for the same, from any of the Circuit Clerks or Judges of a Court of Record, and make oath, or satisfactory showing to such Clerk or Judge, that he has not a surviving wife from whom he has not been lawfully divorced, and unless such information be freely furnished to the satisfaction of the Clerk or Judge no license shall issue. Section 2nd. Be it further enacted: That every white man or person applying for a license as provided in preceding section of this act, shall before obtaining the same, be required to present to the said Clerk or Judge a certificate of good moral character, signed by at least ten respectable Choctaw citizens by blood, who shall have been acquainted with him at least twelve months immediately preceding the signing of...

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Mound Builders

The types of the human skulls taken from those ancient mounds said to have been erected by a prehistoric race, and now called “Mound Builders” a race claimed to be far superior to our Indians are characteristic, not only of the ancient Mexicans, Peruvians and other ancient tribes of South America, but also of the ancient Natchez, Muskogee’s, Choctaws, Chickasaws, Cherokees, Seminoles, Yamases and others of the North American continent. And it is a conceded fact that all Indians ever found in North and South America possess many common features. I have seen the native Indians of Mexico, Arizona...

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Choctaw Indian Mounds

I read the following in the American Antiquarian over the signature of H. F. Buckner: “Mr. Maxwell, in a historical address, says: My conviction is that the high grade of military skill displayed by the Mound Builders at Carthage, Alabama, attests a know ledge of the necessities of attack and defense unknown to the mode of warfare practiced by the tribes found here by De Soto.” Mr. Maxwell does not state in what respect the high grade of military engineering skill displayed by the Mound Builders at Carthage, Alabama, attests a knowledge of the necessities of attack and defense...

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Indian Mounds in Natchez, Mississippi

On the 18th of May 1838, a party of literary and scientific gentlemen from Natchez, Mississippi, examined two square mounds three and a half miles below the city, between the bluff and the river, about a mile from the river and one-eighth of a mile from the bluff, rising from 11 to 16 feet above the level upon which they are based. The two mounds stood about 500 feet apart, ranging north and south of each other, the larger being 66 feet square, and 16 feet high, and the other 33 feet square and 11 feet high. An excavation was...

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The Creation of an Indian Mound

Garcellasso de la Vega, says, in laying off the ground for a town, the first thing that the Indians did, was the erection of a mound, upon the top of which the houses of the chief and his family and attendants were built; and at the base a large square was laid off, around which the principal warriors built their houses, while the common people placed theirs on the opposite side of the mound from the square. All the early explorers repeatedly state that they saw the mounds in all parts of the country through which they passed. Here...

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Choctaw Culture

The Choctaws, like all of their race, had no written laws, and their government rested alone on custom and usage, growing out of their possessions and their wants; yet was conducted so harmoniously by the influence of their native genius and experience, that one would hardly believe that human society could be maintained with so little artifice. As they had no money, their traffic consisted alone in mutual exchange of all commodities; as there was no employment of others for hire, there were no contracts, hence judges and lawyers, sheriffs and jails were unknown among them. There were no beg...

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Choctaw Warpath & Dress

There were many natural orators among the ancient Choctaws when living in undisturbed prosperity and happiness east of the Mississippi River. Their orations were very concise, animating and abounding in many beautiful metaphors; and who, had they possessed the embellishments of a refined education, would have compared well with any race of mankind that ever existed. The Choctaws, like all their race, deliberated with great dignity and solemnity on national affairs; and in all their assemblies, both, national and social, everything was carried on in the best order and unassumed decorum. Their treaties were ratified by smoking the pipe of peace an emblem respected, honored, and held sacred by all Indians every where. As with all their race, so war was, in the estimation of the ancient Choctaws, the most patriotic avocation in which a man could engage; they seldom began a war with another tribe, but rather waited for an attack, then no braver or more resolute warriors ever went upon the war-path. The opening of hostilities was always preceded by the famous Hoyopa-hihla, War dance. Night was the chosen time for engaging in that time honored ceremony; and as soon as evening began to spread her dark mantle over their forests, a huge pile of dry logs and brush previously prepared was set on fire, whose glaring and crackling flames intermingling with their hoyopa-taloah (war-songs) and soul-stirring hoyopa-tassuhah (war-hoops)...

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Choctaw Beliefs About the Sun and Moon

To the unlettered and untutored mind of man through out the world, all things are endowed with individuality and life; from which arose, no doubt, the great number of mystic conceptions, regarding the sun, moon, stars, clouds, winds and storms, as being animate bodies, possessing life as all animate creatures. The traditions of some of the North American Indian tribes are said to state, that the sun was once caught in a snare by a great hunter, and was set free by the moles, but at the loss of their eyes from its intense light, and have ever since been blind. Perhaps the primitive fathers of those tribes possessed some knowledge of Joshua’s command to the orb of day. Brinton states in his “Myths of the New World,” page 55, which the legend of the Peruvian Incas, in regard to the sun, is “He is like a tethered beast that makes a daily round under the eye of a master.” Many of the North American Indian tribes believed, in regard to the eclipse of “the sun and moon, that some animal, wolf, dog, etc., was devouring the sun, and made every effort to drive him away. Some whipped their own dogs during an eclipse because a “Big dog” was eating the sun or moon, and believed the “Big dog” might be induced to postpone his meal by the howls...

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The Choctaw Rainmaker

The Choctaws had several classes of dignitaries among them who were held in the highest reverence: The Medicine Man or Prophet, the Rain Maker, the Doctor a veritable chip of Esculapius. Well indeed did each fill his allotted position in life, and faithfully discharge the mystic duties appertaining thereunto, both in their own opinion as well as that of their people. The Choctaws Materia Medica, like all their race, was Nature, herbs and roots furnishing their remedies both externally and internally; and the success with which they used those remedies proved their knowledge of the healing properties of the various herbs and roots” in which their extensive forests abounded. They had a specific for the, bite of the sintullo (rattle snake). Their doctors relied much on dry cupping, using their mouth alone in all such cases. Oft have I witnessed the Choctaw physician, east of the Mississippi river, administering to the necessities of his suffering patient through the virtues found in the process of dry-cupping; Stretching the sufferer upon a blanket spread upon the ground, he kneeled beside him and began a process of sucking that part of the body of which the patient complained, or where, in his own judgment, the disease was located, making a guttural noise during the operation that reminded one of dog-worrying an opossum; at different intervals raising his head a few inches and pretending...

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The Story of Hohtak Lahba and his Choctaw Mother

Their laws (for they had laws,) though exceptional in some respects to the White Race, nevertheless, were good, and quite consistent with the nations of a primitive age. But like all others of their race, their severest law was that of blood revenge. Whosoever sheddeth man’s blood, by man shall his blood be shed was a statute rigidly enforced among all North American Indians. It was acknowledged among all, not only to be the right, but also the imperative duty of the nearest relative on the male side of the slain, to kill the slayer wherever and whenever a favorable opportunity was presented. Under many existing circumstances the law might, perhaps, have been just and salutary; but unfortunately it went too far, as any male member of the murderer s family, though innocent and even ignorant of the crime, might become the victim of the avenger of blood, if the guilty had fled; but such seldom occurred, as the murderer rarely ever made any effort whatever to escape, but passively submitted to his fate. Still, this law, revolting as it may appear to many, exercised a good influence among the Choctaws, as it had a salutary effect in restraining them in the heat of passion, by rendering them cautious in their disputes and quarrels, lest blood should be shed; knowing the absolute certainty of murder being avenged sooner or...

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