A TOUCH OF CHOCTAW HISTORY

d n english

Time to share a story from my great grandmother and great Aunt Dorthy.

 
But first some history about my family.
 
The history I have been given was that our blood on Grandfather English’s side goes back to the Choctaw tribe by the way of his mother.
Brief history on Choctaw Indians :
The Choctaws are original people of the American southeast, particularly MississippiAlabamaLouisiana, and Florida. Then in the 1800’s the Trail of Tears sent the Choctaw tribe to Oklahoma.*Some Choctaws escaped by hiding or pretending to be white, and descendants of these people are still living in the original Choctaw homelands.
*Trail of Tears was the Choctaw and Cherokee name for what the Americans called Indian Removal.
The Choctaw Indians hunted in West Tennessee and traded with French traders
while they were hunting up and down the Hatchie River. The Choctaw at one time was a large tribe but they were not great warriors. They lived peacefully with some of the Chickasaw tribes so they were able to hunt the Chickasaw lands.
 The story goes that a Choctaw maiden had become the mate of one these traders. This was in the 15th century they settled in Mississippi. They were close to the tribe as time progressed some of the children married into the tribes others married  settlers. When the trail of tears happened some of the family was hidden in plain site and protected from being sent to Oklahoma. Later
part of the family in Oklahoma would move back to Mississippi and Tennessee. 
My great grandmother ‘s family never left the area she was able to attend school she ended up marrying a farmer from West Tennessee.
 
I was always told to study the history of the Choctaw’s my grandmother insisted I learn about my grandfather’s heritage. I remember having to recite this in 6th grade for an American history class.
It went like this
“Choctaw men were hunters and sometimes went to war to protect their families. Choctaw women were farmers and also did most of the child care and cooking. Both genders took part in storytelling, artwork and music, and traditional medicine. In the past, the chief was always a man, *but today a Choctaw woman can be chief .”
*(Grandmother made me add this she was way ahead of her time)
 
Great grandmother would tell me that I should have been born on Oct. 31st because I was gifted. I had no idea what she was talking about until an elder cousin from Mississippi, a member of the Choctaw tribe, came to pay her respect several years after my great grandmother died. She sat me down to explain 
 
Great grandmother’s birthday was 10/31 as was her mother ,her grandmother
and her great grandmother .This meant they were born under the symbol of the snake and it made them special. These ladies were known as Shamans ,healers, and great storytellers.
 
From the Native American  Astrological Signs
Snake
October 23 – November 22
Most shamans are born under this Native American animal symbol. The Snake is a natural in all matters of spirit. Easily attuned to the ethereal realm the Snake makes an excellent spiritual leader. Also respected for his/her healing capacities, the Snake also excels in medical professions. Snake-sign preoccupation with matters intangible often lead others to view them as mysterious, and sometimes frightening. True, the Snake can be secretive, and a bit dark – he/she is also quite sensitive, and caring. In a supportive relationship the cool Snake can be passionate, inspiring, humorous, and helpful.
 
My elder cousin would tell me my great grandmother wrote her when I was born and said I was born to soon but that the gift had been passed to me. She explained one day I would understand and  for me to pay attention and accept. I was only 6 when I was told this but my grandfather would always remind me not to forget what was told me. He also told me to write my elder cousin if I had questions. She was my guide and teacher until she died when I was 14. Her last words to me were never question my “gift” but always search and learn. Her favorite phrase “listen to the spirits of the forest and the spirits of the trees.”
I leaned a lot but I still have more to learn.
I don’t know about the healing part but all my life I have been curious and able to sense and see things other couldn’t. Never have understood but just accepted this as a gift. The other part that was passed on was the ability to research, write and tell stories. 
When I was growing up I would visit my friend who lived close to Hatchie River on highway 76. We would spent time walking through the woods or sitting on the banks of the river. It was strange I felt comfortable there Shelia and I would make up the best stories about times gone by when I got home I would write them down. When Granddaddy and I would ride our horses around the farm I would tell him my stories. Sometime I would see a tear in his eye he would tell me I reminded him of his mother and the stories she would tell. That would make me feel proud.
Thank you great grandmother I listened and I will continue to be the storyteller and keep the spirits alive.
 
The next entry will be one of these stories.   

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