Topic: Choctaw

Mr. Cushman and the Choctaw’s

Curiosity was one of the chief characteristics of the Choctaws, and held a prominent position in their breasts. They were desirous to know everything peculiar or strange that was transpiring about them; not more so, however, than any others of the human race. Yet the Choctaw differed from his white brother in this particular; the white man expressed openly his curiosity at anything unusual or strange, and asked innumerable questions concerning it, and manifested the greatest excitement until his curiosity was gratified; but the Choctaw asked no questions, nor manifested any surprise whatever, no matter how strange or incomprehensible to him, but walked around with an air of seemingly perfect indifference; yet was attentive to any and all explanations that were being made by others. The ingenuity of the white man as displayed in his various inventions was, to him, as to all his race, the deepest mystery, an incomprehensible enigma that placed the pale face, in his opinion, in close relationship to super-human beings; and influenced an aged Indian chief to exclaim, when viewing the mysterious workings of a steam engine when once at Washington City, “I hate the avarice of the white man s heart, but worship the ingenuity of his mind.” The astonishment sometimes depicted upon, the countenances of the Indians when beholding the wonderful performances of the white man, audibly expressed by the ancient Choctaws in...

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Choctaw War Against the Osage and other Legends

There were many traditions among all North American Indians, many of which bordered on the poetical and from which I will select one or two more, which shall suffice as examples of a few of the peculiarities of this peculiar yet interesting people. Thus says the tradition of “Ohoyo Osh Chisba,” (The Unknown Woman.) In the days of many moons ago, two Choctaw hunters were encamped for the night in the swamps of the bend of the Alabama River. But the scene was not without its romance. Dark, wild, and unlovely as a swamp is generally imagined to be, yet to the musing heart and contemplative spirit, it had its aspects of beauty, if not of brightness, which rose up before the mind as objects of serene delight, i speak from long personal experience. Its mysterious appearance; its little lakes and islands of repose: its silent and solemn solitudes; its green cane-breaks and lofty trees, all combined to present a picture of strange but harmonious combination to which a lover of nature in all its diversified phases could not be wholly insensible. The two hunters having been unsuccessful in the chase on that and the preceding day, found themselves without anything- on that night with which to satisfy the craving’s of hunger except a black hawk which they had shot with an arrow. Sad reflections filled their hearts as...

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Traditions of the Great Flood by the Choctaw

The traditions of the Choctaws concerning the Oka Falama (Returned waters the Flood) is as follows: In ancient time, after many generations of mankind had lived and passed from the stage of being, the race became so corrupt and wicked brother fighting against brother and wars deluging the earth with human blood and carnage the Great Spirit became greatly displeased and finally determined to destroy the human race; therefore sent a great prophet to them who proclaimed from tribe to tribe, and from village to village, the fearful tidings that the human race was soon to be destroyed. None believed his words, and lived on in their wickedness as if they did not care, and the seasons came again and went. Then came the autumn of the year, followed by many succeeding cloudy days and nights, during which the sun by day and the moon and stars by night were concealed from the earth; then succeeded a total darkness, and the sun seemed to have been blotted out; while darkness and silence with a cold atmosphere took possession of earth. Mankind wearied and perplexed, but not repenting or reforming, slept in darkness but to awake in darkness; then the mutterings of distant thunder began to be heard, gradually becoming incessant, until it reverberated in all parts of the sky and seemed to echo back even from the deep center of...

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The Biloxi and Pascagoulas

The French in making their voyages of discovery along the coast of the Gulf of Mexico in 1712, under the command of Iberville, anchored one evening near an island (now known as Ship Island) which they discovered to be intersected with lagoons and inhabited by a strange and peculiar animal seemingly to hold the medium between the fox and cat, and they give it the name Cat Island, by which it is still known; thence they passed over the main land, where they discovered a tribe of Indians called Biloxi, among whom they afterwards located a town and gave it the name Biloxi now the oldest town in the State of Mississippi. This tribe of Indians proved to be a clan of the Choctaws, and the name Biloxi, a corruption of the Choctaw word Ba-luh-chi, signifying hickory bark. Thence going eastward they discovered another tribe which they called the Pascagoula’s, which also proved to be a clan of the Choctaws, and the name Pascagoula, a corruption of the two Choctaw words Puska (bread) and Okla (people), i. e: Bread People, or people having bread; but which has been erroneously interpreted to mean “Bread Eaters.” A remnant of the Ba-luh-chis still exist among the Choctaws, while the Puskaoklas have been long lost by uniting with other Choctaw clans. There was an ancient tradition among the Puskaoklas, which stated that, in the years long past, a small tribe of Indians of a lighter complexion than...

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History of the Shakchi Humma Tribe

Oktibbeha 1O-ka-it-tib-ih-ha county, Mississippi, as well as its sister counties, has been the scene of many hard struggles between the contending warriors of the different tribes, who inhabited the noble old state in years of the long past; not only from the statements and traditions of the Choctaws, who were among the last of the Indian race whose council-fires lit up her forests, and whose hoyopatassuha died away upon her hills, but also from the numerous fortifications and entrenchments, that were plainly visible, ere the ploughshare had upturned her virgin soil, and her native- forests still stood in their...

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Prominent White Men among the Chickasaws

At an early day a few white men of culture and of good morals, fascinated with the wild and romantic freedom and simplicity of the Chickasaw life, cast their lot among that brave and patriotic nation of people. I read an article published in Mississippi a few years ago, which stated that a man by the name of McIntosh, commissioned by British authorities to visit the Chickasaw Nation and endeavor to keep up its ancient hostility to the French, was so delighted with the customs and manners of that brave, free and hospitable people that, after the accomplishment of his mission,...

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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...

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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...

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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...

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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...

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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...

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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...

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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...

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