|Bishinik, The Little Chahta News Bird
A Choctaw Legend
According to Choctaw legend, when the "returning waters" (that is the Choctaw term for the Great Flood) came, two birds. Bishinik (a small,
speckled yellow billed, scissortail species of Woodpecker), and Folichik (the scissortail fly catcher), were the only two birds to escape drowning by
flying as high as they could and perching upside-down upon the sky. As it was, the waters came so high that the birds' tails hung down where the
dashing waters caused their tail feathers to separate, thus making them split, or scissortail.
Because of their bravery, the two birds were blessed by God, and because Bishinik was grateful for this blessing, God decreed that Bishinik would
always be a special friend to his people, the Choctaw. To the Choctaw, Bishinik was the friendliest of birds, was accorded special treatment, and
became known as "the little Chahta news bird".
Bishinik would live around Choctaw homes and let then know whenever someone was approaching. The friendly little woodpecker was also
believed to accompany hunting parties or war parties when they went into the field. Bishinik would warn the warriors of the approach of an enemy,
or would indicate to them when game was near and in which direction they should travel to find this game. Should an enemy force approach an
encampment of Choctaw Warriors during the hours of darkness, Bishinik would warn them by tapping out messages on trees about the camp.
Bishinik is honored to this day, as the tribal newspaper bears his name!
Music: Winds of Time by AH-NEE-MAH
Long, long ago two young brothers, Tashka and Walo, decided they wanted to follow Sun. Every morning they saw him come up over the edge of
the earth, pass high overhead, and late in the day die in the west.
So they waited until Sun was directly overhead and then set out after him. At first they walked at an easy pace, but in a while Tashka said to Walo,
"Sun is too far ahead of us. We must walk faster."
The brothers picked up their pace, but Sun stayed ahead of them.
They started to run, but that night when Sun died, the brothers were still in their own country.
"We will catch him tomorrow," they vowed.
That night they slept, and the next day when Sun was again overhead they set off once more to follow him. The brothers continued pursuing Sun
until they had grown to be young men. At last they reached a great body of water. The only land was the shore on which they stood.
They saw Sun die, sinking into the water. They passed over the water and entered Sun's house with him. Sun's house was the great dome of the sky.
All around the brothers were stars and Moon. Moon was a woman, Sun's wife. Moon said to the brothers, "How have you come here, so far from
"We have followed Sun on his daily journey since we were boys."
Then Sun said, "Why have you followed me? It is not time for you to come here."
"We wanted to see where you went when you died." the brothers answered.
Sun spoke to his wife: "Boil water and bring it to me in a pot." Sun put the young men in the boiling water and rubbed them until their skin came off.
Sun then said, "I will return you to your home. But you must not speak a word to anyone for four days. If you speak, you not will live and prosper.
"Do you know the way home?" Sun continued.
"No," replied the brothers.
So Sun took them to the edge of the sky, where they looked down to earth. "I do not see our home," Tashka said.
"I cannot see it, either," Walo said.
Sun called a large buzzard and placed the brothers on his back. Buzzard started toward earth. The brothers had no trouble keeping their hold on the
bird's back until they passed into clouds. A strong wind was blowing and Buzzard was blown about; the brothers hung on desperately.
But they reached Earth safely. Buzzard put them down in the trees near their home.
The brothers were resting under the trees, recovering from their frightening journey, when an old man passed by and recognized them. He did not
speak to them, however, but continued down the road until he met the brothers' mother. "Your boys have come back," he said. "But they are men
The mother ran towards Tashka and Walo. She wanted to know where they had been and what had happened to them. At first they did not answer,
because of what Sun had said about not talking for four days.
The mother worried because she had forced her sons to speak. But she took them to her house, and all the neighbors came in. The brothers told
everything they had seen and done during their years of following Sun.
When they had told everything, they died and went up into the great sky to remain forever.
|Brothers Who Followed The Sun
A Choctaw Legend
The origin of corn is connected with a myth called by Cushman the story of Ohoyo Osh Chisba "The Unknown Woman". With Cushman's usual
emotional setting this runs as follows:
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... The two
hunters, having been unsuccessful in the chase of that and the preceding day, found themselves on that night with nothing with which to satisfy the
cravings of hunger except a black hawk which they had shot with an arrow.
Sad reflections filled their hearts as they thought of their sad disappointments and of their suffering families at home. While the gloomy future
spread over them its dark pall of despondency, all serving to render them unhappy indeed.
They cooked the hawk and sat down to partake of their poor and scanty supper, when their attention was drawn from their gloomy foreboding's by
the low but distinct tones, strange yet soft and plaintive as the melancholy notes of the dove, but produced by what they were unable to even
At different intervals it broke the deep silence of the early night with its seemingly muffled notes of woe; and as the nearly full moon slowly ascended
the eastern sky the strange sounds became more frequent and distinct.
With eyes dilated and fluttering heart they looked up and down the river to learn whence the sounds proceeded, but no object except the sandy shores
glittering in the moonlight greeted their eyes, while the dark waters of the river seemed alone to give response in murmuring tones to the strange
notes that continued to float upon the night air from a direction they could not definitely locate; but happening to look behind them in the direction
opposite the moon they saw a woman of wonderful beauty standing upon a mound a few rods distant.
Like an illuminated shadow, she had suddenly appeared out of the moon-lighted forest. She was loosely clad in snow-white raiment, and bore in the
folds of her drapery a wreath of fragrant flowers. She beckoned them to approach, while she seemed surrounded by a halo of light that gave to her a
Their imagination now influenced them to believe her to be the Great Spirit of their nation, and that the flowers she bore were representatives of
loved ones who had passed from earth to bloom in the Spirit Land...
The mystery was solved. At once they approached (the spot) where she stood, and offered their assistance in any way they could be of service to her.
She replied she was very hungry, whereupon one of them ran and brought the roasted hawk and handed it to her.
She accepted it with grateful thanks; but, after eating a small portion of it, she handed the remainder back to them replying that she would remember
their kindness when she returned to her home in the happy hunting grounds of her father, who was Shilup Chitoh Osh - The Great Spirit of the
Choctaws. She then told them that when the next mid-summer moon should come they must meet her at the mound upon which she was then
She then bade them an affectionate adieu, and was at once borne away upon a gentle breeze and, mysteriously as she came, so she disappeared. The
two hunters returned to their camp for the night and early next morning sought their homes, but kept the strange incident to themselves, a profound
When the designated time rolled around the mid-summer full moon found the two hunters at the foot of the mound but Ohoyo Chishba Osh was
nowhere to be seen. Then remembering she told them they must come to the very spot where she was then standing, they at once ascended the
mound and found it covered with a strange plant, which yielded an excellent food, which was ever afterwards cultivated by the Choctaws, and
named by them Tunchi (corn).
|Choctaw Corn Legend
A Choctaw Legend
|Eclipse of the Sun Blamed on Black Squirrel
A Choctaw Legend
In Choctaw history, solar eclipses were attributed to black squirrels, or a black squirrel, supposed to be eating the luminary, and they must be driven
off if mankind were to still enjoy the heat and light. Cushman says:
The Choctaw - - - attributed an eclipse of the sun to a black squirrel, whose eccentricities often led it into mischief, and among other things, that of
trying to eat up the sun at different intervals. When thus inclined, they believed, which was confirmed by long experience, that the only effective
means to prevent so fearful a catastrophe befalling the world as the blotting out of that indispensable luminary, was to favor the little, black epicure
with a first-class scare; therefore, whenever he manifested an inclination to indulge in a meal on the sun, every ingenuity was called into requisition
to give him a genuine fright so that he would be induced, at least, to postpone his meal on the sun at that particular time and seek a lunch elsewhere.
As soon, therefore, as the sun began to draw its lunar veil over its face, the cry was heard from every mount from the Dan to the Beersheba of their
then wide extended territory, echoing from hill to dale, "Funi lusa hushi umpa! Funi lusa hushi umpa," according to our phraseology, the black
squirrel is eating the sun! Then and there was heard a sound of tumult by day in the Choctaw Nation for the space of an hour or two. Far exceeding
that said to have been heard by night in Belgium's Capital, and sufficient in the conglomeration of discordant tones of terrific, if heard by the distant,
little, fastidious squirrel, to have made him lose forever afterward all relish for a mess of suns for an early or late dinner.
The shouts of the women and children mingling with the ringing of discordant bells as the vociferous pounding and beating of earsplitting tin pans
and cups mingling in "wild confusion worse confounded," yet in sweet unison with a first-class orchestra of yelping, howling, barking dogs
gratuitously thrown in by the innumerable and highly excited curs, produced a din, which even a "Funi lusa," had he heard it, could scarcely have
endured even to have indulged in a nibble or two of the sun, though urged by the demands of a week's fasting.
But during the wild scene the men were not idle spectators, or indifferent listeners. Each stood a few paces in front of his cabin door with no
outward manifestation of excitement whatever -so characteristic of the Indian warrior but with his trusty rifle in hand, which so oft had proved a
friend sincere in many hours of trial, which he loaded and fired in rapid succession at the distant, devastating squirrel, with the same coolness and
calm deliberation that he did when shooting at his game. More than once I have witnessed the fearful yet novel scene. When it happened to be the
time of a total eclipse of the sun, a sufficient evidence that the little, black epicure meant business in regard to having a square meal, though it took
the whole sun to furnish it, then indeed there were sounds of revelry and tumult unsurpassed by any ever heard before, either in "Belgium" or
Then the women shrieked and redoubled their efforts upon the tin pans, which, under the desperate blows, strained every vocal organ to do its
utmost and whole duty in loud response, while the excited children screamed and beat their tin cups, and the sympathetic dogs (whose name was
legion) barked and howled -all seemingly determined not to fall the one behind the other in their duty since the occasion demanded it; while the
warriors still stood in profound and meditative silence, but firm and undaunted, as they quickly loaded and fires their rifles, each time taking
deliberate aim, if perchance the last shot might prove the successful one; then, as the moon's shadow began to move from the disk of the sun, the
joyful shout was heard above the mighty din "Funi-lusa-osh mahlatah!" The black squirrel is frightened.
But the din remained unabated until the sun again appeared in its usual splendor, and all nature again assumed its harmonious course.
|Grandmother Spider Steals the Fire
A Choctaw Legend
The Choctaw People say that when the People first came up out of the ground, People were encased in cocoons, their eyes closed, their limbs folded
tightly to their bodies.
And this was true of all People, the Bird People, the Animal People, the Insect People, and the Human People. The Great spirit took pity on them and
sent down someone to unfold their limbs, dry them off, and open their eyes.
But the opened eyes saw nothing, because the world was dark, no sun, no moon, not even any stars. All the People moved around by touch, and if
they found something that didn't eat them first, they ate it raw, for they had no fire to cook it.
All the People met in a great powwow, with the Animal and Bird People taking the lead, and the Human People hanging back. The Animal and Bird
People decided that life was not good, but cold and miserable. A solution must be found! Someone spoke from the dark, "I have heard that the people
in the East have fire!"
This caused a stir of wonder, "What could fire be?" there was general discussion, and it was decided that if, as rumor had it, fire was warm and gave
light, they should have it too. Another voice said, "But the people of the East are too greedy to share with us." So it was decided that the Bird and
Animal People should steal what they needed, the fire!
But, who should have the honor? Grandmother Spider volunteered, "I can do it! Let me try!" But at the same time, Opossum began to speak, "I,
Opossum, am a great chief of the animals. I will go to the East and since I am a great hunter, I will take the fire and hide it in the bushy hair on my
tail." It was well known that Opossum had the furriest tail of all the animals, so he was selected.
When Opossum came to the East, he soon found the beautiful, red fire, jealously guarded by the people of the East. But Opossum got closer and
closer until he picked up a small piece of burning wood, and stuck it in the hair of his tail, which promptly began to smoke, then flame. The people of
the East said, "Look, that Opossum has stolen our fire!"
They took it and put it back where it came from and drove Opossum away. Poor Opossum! Every bit of hair had burned from his tail, and to this
day, opossums have no hair at all on their tails.
Once again, the powwow had to find a volunteer chief. Grandmother Spider again said, "Let me go! I can do it!" But this time a bird was elected,
Buzzard. Buzzard was very proud. "I can succeed where Opossum has failed. I will fly to the East on my great wings, then hide the stolen fire in the
beautiful long feathers on my head." The birds and animals still did not understand the nature of fire.
So buzzard flew to the East on his powerful wings, swooped past those defending the fire, picked up a small piece of burning ember, and hid it in his
head feathers. Buzzard's head began to smoke and flame even faster! The people of the East said, "Look! Buzzard has stolen the fire!" And they took
it and put it back where it came from.
Poor Buzzard! His head was now bare of feathers, red and blistered looking. And to this day, buzzards have naked heads that are bright red and
The powwow now sent Crow to look the situation over, for Crow was very clever. Crow at that time was pure white, and had the sweetest singing
voice of all the birds. But he took so long standing over the fire, trying to find the perfect piece to steal that his white feathers were smoked black.
And he breathed so much smoke that when he tried to sing, out came a harsh, "Caw! Caw!"
The council said, "Opossum has failed. Buzzard and Crow have failed. Who shall we send?"
Tiny Grandmother Spider shouted with all her might, "LET ME TRY IT PLEASE!" Though the council members thought Grandmother Spider had
little chance of success, it was agreed that she should have her turn. Grandmother Spider looked then like she looks now, she had a small torso
suspended by two sets of legs that turned the other way. She walked on all of her wonderful legs toward a stream where she had found clay.
With those legs, she made a tiny clay chamber and a lid that fit perfectly with a tiny notch for air in the corner of the lid. Then she put the container
on her back, spun a web all the way to the East, and walked tiptoe until she came to the fire. She was so small, the people from the East took no
notice. She took a tiny piece of fire, put it in the container, and covered it with the lid. Then she walked back on tiptoe along the web until she came to
the People. Since they couldn't see any fire, they said, "Grandmother Spider has failed!"
"Oh no," she said, "I have the fire!" She lifted the pot from her back, and the lid from the pot, and the fire flamed up into its friend, the air. All the
Birds and Animal People began to decide who would get this wonderful warmth. Bear said, "I'll take it!" but then he burned his paws on it and
decided fire was not for animals, for look what happened to Opossum!
The Birds wanted no part of it, as Buzzard and Crow were still nursing their wounds. The insects thought it was pretty, but they too, stayed far
away from the fire.
Then a small voice said, "We will take it, if Grandmother Spider will help." The timid humans, whom none of the animals or birds thought much of,
So Grandmother Spider taught the Human People how to feed the fire sticks and wood to keep it from dying, how to keep the fire safe in a circle of
stone so it couldn't escape and hurt them or their homes. While she was at it, she taught the humans about pottery made of clay and fire, and about
weaving and spinning, at which Grandmother Spider was an expert.
The Choctaw remember. They made a beautiful design to decorate their homes, a picture of Grandmother Spider, two sets of legs up, two down, with
a fire symbol on her back. this is so their children never forget to honor Grandmother Spider, Fire Bringer!
|How Poison Came Into The World
A Choctaw Legend
A very long time ago, when the world was new, there was a certain plant that grew in the shallow waters of the bayous. It grew in the place where
the Choctaw people went to bathe or swim. This plant was a vine, and was very poisonous. Whenever the people touched this vine, they would get
very sick and would die.
This vine liked the Choctaw people, though, and it felt sorry for them. It didn't want to cause them so much pain and sorrow. But, it couldn't show
itself to them, because it grew beneath the surface, of the bayou. So, it decided to give away it's poison. It called all of the chiefs of the small people of
the swamps --the wasps, bees and snakes. It told them that it wanted to give away it's poison.
These small chiefs held a council about the vine's offer. They had no poison and were often stepped on, by the others. They agreed to share the poison.
Bee spoke first. "I will take a small part of your poison," he said. "I will only use it to defend my hive. I will warn people away before I poison them,
and even if I shall have to use my poison, it will kill me to do so, therefore, I will use it very carefully."
Wasp spoke next. "I will take a small part of your poison, also," he said. "Then I will be able to protect my nest. But, I will warn people by buzzing
close to them before I poison them. I will keep my poison in my tail."
Water Moccasin spoke. "I will take some of your poison. I will use it only if people step on me. I will hold it in my mouth and when I open my mouth
people will see how white it is and they will know to stay away from me."
Rattlesnake spoke last. "I will take a good bit of your poison," he said. "I will take all that is left. I will hold it in my mouth, too. And, before I strike
someone, I will use my tail to warn them. Intesha, Intesha, Intesha, Intesha. That is the sound that I will make to let them know that they are too
So, it was done. The vine gave up it's poison to the bees, wasps, water moccasins and the rattlesnakes. Now the shallow waters of the bayous were
safe for the Choctaw people. Where once the vine had poison, now it had small flowers. From then on, only those who were foolish and did not
listen to the warnings of the small ones, who took the vine's poison, were hurt.
|The Alligator and The Hunter
A Choctaw Legend
There once was a man who had very bad luck when he hunted. Although the other hunters in his village were always able to bring home deer, this
man never succeeded.
He was the strongest of the men in the village and he knew the forest well, but his luck was never good. Each time he came close to the deer something
bad would happen.
A jay would call from the trees and the deer would take flight. He would step on dry leaves and the deer would run before he could shoot. His arrow
would glance off a twig and miss the deer. It seemed there was no end to his troubles.
Finally the man decided he would go deep into the swamps where there were many deer. He would continue hunting until he either succeeded or lost
his own life. The man hunted for three days without success.
At noon on the fourth day, he came to a place in the swamp where there had once been a deep pool. The late summer had been a very dry one,
however, and now there was only hot sand where once there had been water. There, resting on the sand, was a huge alligator. It had been without
water for many days. It was so dry and weak that it was almost dead. Although the hunter's own luck had been bad, he saw that this alligator's luck
was even worse.
"My brother," said the man, "I pity you."
Then the alligator spoke. Its voice was so weak that the man could barely hear it. "Is there water nearby?" said the alligator.
"Yes," said the man. "There is a deep pool of clear cool water not far from here. It is just beyond that small stand of trees to the west. There the
springs never dry up and the water always runs. If you go to that place, you will survive."
"I cannot travel there by myself," said the alligator. "I am too weak. Come close so I can talk to you. I will not harm you. Help me and I will also
The hunter was afraid of the great alligator, but he came a bit closer. As soon as he was close, the alligator spoke again. "I know that you are a
hunter but the deer always escape from you. If you help me, I will make you a great hunter. I will give you the power to kill many deer."
This sounded good to the hunter, but he still feared the alligator's great jaws. "My brother," the man said, "I believe that you will help me, but you are
still an alligator. I will carry you to that place, but you must allow me to bind your legs and bind your jaws so that you can do me no harm."
Immediately the alligator rolled over to its back and held up its legs. "Do as you wish," the alligator said. The man bound the alligator's jaws firmly
with his sash. He made a bark strap and bound the alligator's legs together.
Then with his great strength, he lifted the big alligator to his shoulders and carried it to the deep cool water where the springs never dried. He placed
the alligator on its back close to the water and he untied its feet. He untied the alligator's jaws, but still held those jaws together with one hand. Then
he jumped back quickly.
The alligator rolled into to the pool and dove underwater. It stayed under a long time and then came up. Three more times the alligator dove, staying
down longer each time. At last it came to the surface and floated there, looking up at the hunter who was seated high on the bank.
"You have done as you said you would," said the alligator. "You have saved me. Now I shall help you, also. Listen closely to me now and you will
become a great hunter. Go now into the woods with your bow and arrows. Soon you will meet a small doe. That doe has not yet grown large
enough to have young ones. Do not kill that deer. Only greet it and then continue on and your power as a hunter will increase."
The alligator continued, "Soon after that you will meet a large doe. That doe has fawns and will continue to have young ones each year. Do not kill
that deer. Greet it and continue on and you will be an even greater hunter."
Then he said, "Next you will meet a small buck. That buck will father many young ones. Do not kill it. Great it and continue on and your power as a
hunter will become greater still."
The alligator then said, "At last you will meet an old buck, larger than any of the others. Its time on Earth has been useful. Now it is ready to give
itself to you. Go close to that deer and shoot it. Then greet it and thank it for giving itself to you. Do this and you will be the greatest of hunters."
The hunter did as the alligator said. He went into the forest and met the deer, killing only the old buck. He became the greatest of the hunters in his
He told this story to his people. Many of them understood the alligator's wisdom and hunted in that way. That is why the Choctaws became great
hunters of the deer. As long as they remembered tofollow the alligator's teachings, they were never hungry.
A Choctaw Legend
By Gabriel Chickaway
After a warrior had fought his last battle, eternal sleep comes to his body. His spirit goes to a new home. The warrior must make one more journey,
the journey to the spirit world. The warrior goes to the world of the spirits only if he has walked on earth and followed the laws of the Choctaws. He
must love his brother at all times. He has to do good things for his brother and must never harm his brother. He must never steal from his fellow
His journey to the spirit world is long and hard. The warrior faces a last struggle to get through the great distances. He must travel over mountains,
and through valleys. He has traveled many miles before he gets to the mighty river. This river is the longest he has ever seen. He slowly enters deep
blue water. The sky gets darker. His journey has almost been impossible. He drags himself out of the water and falls on the ground. The warrior
hears a voice calling, "Mighty Warrior." Then the voice says, "Come follow me, you must not abandon your journey to the spirit world."
|The Little People
A Choctaw Legend
A long time ago in ancient times, while the Choctaw Indians were living in Mississippi, the Choctaw legends say that certain supernatural beings or
spirits lived near them. These spirits, or "Little People," were known as Kowi Anukasha or "Forest Dwellers." They were about two or three feet tall.
These pygmy beings lived deep in the thick forest, their homes were in caves hidden under large rocks. When a boy child is two, three, or even four
years old, he will often wander off into the woods, playing or chasing a small animal. When the little one is well out of sight from his home,
"Kwanokasha", who is always on watch, seizes the boy and takes him away to his cave, his dwelling place. Many times his cave is far away and
Kwanokasha and the little boy must travel a very long way, climbing many hills and crossing many streams. When they finally reach the cave
Kwanokasha takes him inside where he is met by three other spirits, all very old with long white hair.
The first one offers the boy a knife; the second one offers him, a bunch of poisonous herbs; the third offers a bunch of herbs yielding good medicine. If
the child accepts the knife, he is certain to become a bad man and may even kill his friends. If he accepts the poisonous herbs he will never be able to
cure or help his people. But, if he accepts the good herbs, he is destined to become a great doctor and an important and influential man of his tribe and
win the confidence of all his people. When he accepts the good herbs the three old spirits will tell him the secrets of making medicines from herbs, roots
and barks of certain trees, and of treating and curing various fevers, pains and other sickness.
That is the reason the "Little People" take the boy child to their home in the wilderness, in order to train Indian doctors, transmitting to them their
special curative powers and to train them in the manufacture of their medicines. The child will remain with the spirits for three days after which he is
returned. He does not tell where he has been or what he has seen or heard. Not until he becomes a man will he make use of the knowledge gained from
the spirits, and never will he reveal to others how it was acquired. It is said among the Choctaws that few children wait to accept the offering of the
good herbs from the third spirit, and that is why there are so few great doctors and other men of influence among the Choctaws.
It is also said that the "Little People" are never seen by the common Choctaws. The Choctaw prophets and herb doctors, however, claim the power of
seeing them and of holding communication with them. During the darkest nights in all kinds of weather you can see a strange light wandering around
in the woods. This light is the Indian doctor and his little helper looking for that special herb to treat and cure a very sick tribesman.
|The Milky Way
A Choctaw Legend
Long, long ago a hunter living up in the sky had a bag of meal stolen from him by a white dog. As the dog ran across the sky, the bag came untied. The
meal was scattered in a broad white trail, which from that day has been known as the White Dog's Road.
|The Possum and the Raccoon
A Choctaw Legend
The Choctaws knew Possum when he had hair on his tail. Possum's tail was gray with white hair mixed in and it was very nice to look at.
When Possum met Raccoon he looked and looked at Raccoon's tail. Raccoon's tail had stripes on it and Possum wished that he had stripes on his tail
Possum asked Raccoon, "Raccoon, how did you get those stripes on your tail?"
Raccoon said, "All raccoons have stripes on their tails."
Possum told Raccoon, "I want stripes on my tail too!"
Raccoon said, "You are a 'possum' and you should have a 'possum tail.'"
"But I want stripes," Possum pouted.
So Raccoon said, "Someone told me that you could wrap bark from a tree around your tail, then cook your tail over a fire. When your tail is cooked, it
will have stripes."
Possum ran to a tree and took some bark and wrapped his tail. Then Possum built a fire and cooked his tail.
When Possum unwrapped his tail there were no rings. Possum looked again and saw that there was no hair. Possum began to cry. Then Possum said,
"I was so silly. I will always like my tail, no matter how it looks." But the hair never grew back.
|The Red Bird
A Choctaw Legend
Once, when time was not quite old enough to be counted, there lived a beautiful Indian maiden. This was a special maiden. She could do all the work
that needed to be done to keep her lodge in order and to satisfy her mate. But this maiden did not have what she longed for --her mate. As she sat under
the large tree one day, she heard the Red Bird.
"Red Bird, is it so strange for me to wish to have someone to care for, who will care for me?" asked the maiden. "If it is not so strange, why have I not
found that one meant for me?"
The red Bird had no answer for the Indian maiden, but he sat and listened to her because he could hear the lonely in her voice. Every morning for the
passing seven suns, the Red Bird came and listened to the maiden's story. As each day passed, the loneliness felt by the maiden began to fill the Red Bird.
One day in the Red Bird's far travels, he came to a handsome Indian brave. The brave saw the Red Bird and called him to him. As he began to talk, the
Red Bird felt the loneliness in his voice that the maiden had shown. Soon the Red Bird began to see that these two lonely people had the same wish, to
find another who would love and care for them as they would care for their mate.
On the fifth day of listening to the brave, the Red Bird became as a bird that is sick. The brave became concerned, for the Red Bird had become his
friend. As the brave walked toward him, the Red bird began hopping, leading the brave to the lodge of the Indian maiden. Because the brave was
wanting to see if the Red Bird was alright, he did not notice that he was going from his home. The Red Bird saw the Indian Maiden sitting outside of her
lodge and when he came very close to where he knew the brave would then see the Indian maiden, he flew away. The brave saw the Indian maiden and
realized that he had wandered far from his home. He went to the Indian maiden to ask where he was.
The Red Bird sat in the tree and watched the brave and the maiden. At first the brave was shy and the maiden would not talk, but they soon were
talking and laughing like old friends.
Red Bird saw this and thought it was good. He had done as he could and now it would be up to the brave and the maiden. As Red Bird flew to his home
he thought of how Great Spirit had known that someday the two would find each other. Now it was good, thought Red Bird, that maiden had someone
who would see for her and brave had someone that would hear for him and that they finally had someone who would care.
|The Story of Tanchi
A Choctaw Legend
A long time ago, before there were grocery stores, two Choctaw boys went hunting with bows and arrows. The two Choctaw boys hunted a long time,
but did not find a squirrel or deer to kill and eat.
The boys did shoot a blackbird. Then the Choctaw boys made a fire with sticks and cooked the bird so they could eat it.
When the bird was cooked, the two boys sat down on the ground to eat. Before they could eat any of the bird, a woman came to them. The woman said,
"I am very hungry." The Choctaw boys were respectful so they gave the bird to the woman and she ate it all up. The boys were still hungry, but there
was nothing left to eat. They did not tell the woman how hungry they were. The woman said, "Thank you," and the boys said, "You're welcome."
The woman said, "Because you know how to share, I'm going to give you a surprise." Then she told the boys to go home and to come back tomorrow.
The next day, the two Choctaw boys went back to the place where they gave the cooked bird to the woman to eat.
There, where the fire had been built, was something growing that looked like a tree. The skinny tree had yellow things growing on it. The boys did not
know what the surprise was. They pulled off one of the yellow things and smelled it. It smelled good. They ate some of it and it tasted good. "Let's take
this home and ask somebody what it is," the boys said.
Mother didn't know what it was. Father didn't know what it was. Nobody in the whole town knew what it was, but they liked the way it tasted.
Someone said, "What will we call this delicious present the boys have shared with us?" The boys said, "Let's call it Tanchi."
And the Choctaws still call the woman's present "Tanchi."
|The Tale of the Wind Horse
A Choctaw Legend
At the time when day and night were still deciding who comes first, there lived a Horse that will never be seen again. The Horse was not one that would
become as the dying buffalo, for this Horse had no enemies.
The reason that this Horse would not be seen again was because of love.
It is a story that begins this way.
The Horse, who was called Wind Horse, was the fastest and gentlest of all the Indian ponies. He felt no fear, there was not one that would harm him. If
there was an Indian wounded or that needed a ride, Wind Horse was there to care and to carry the Indian. Because of the kindness of Wind Horse, there
is no more.
One day, as Wind Horse was feeling the good feeling from being free, he heard a cry for help. He ran to the edge of the forest and saw an Indian child,
Boy, caught in a trap meant for Bear. The boy's foot was cut off and the Boy could not move. Wind Horse went to the side of the Boy and as the Boy
leaned against him, he bent to let the Boy get on his back.
The Boy, who had no name, could not believe that this beautiful Horse would come to him as a friend. All his life he had lived alone, for with his bad leg
no one wanted him. As he rode the wind on the horse, he could feel the good feeling that Wind Horse felt. It was as if he were whole and that he was with
Wind Horse knew that the wound that the Boy had was one that could not be fixed or healed. He was taking the Boy to the place of the Indian Hunting
Ground. This place was where all were made whole and had no fear or need. Wind Horse felt sadness that one as young as this Boy had to go to the
Ground but he knew that it would be for the best.
As they traveled, the Boy noticed that the trail was always changing. First it was as it was when the Boy had been hurt, then it was as it was when he
had been happy. Then it was the time when he had not been born. Soon he saw things that he did not recognize. The Boy became more close to Wind
Horse, for he began to fear.
Wind Horse had seen the times and had seen the Boy and his life. He had felt the feelings of the Boy. Wind Horse knew that if he continued this ride, he
would not be free any more. For the feelings that the Boy felt were now becoming the feelings of Wind Horse. For Wind Horse was the last of his race,
the race of Horses that would feel the feelings of the rider.
Should the rider remain on the Horse of Wind, he would share the fate of the rider, for then a bond would be made that would not and could not be
broken. Wind Horse knew of this bond, and as a result, always put off the rider before any bond was made. This time, Wind Horse knew this would be
his last rider.
As they traveled, the Boy began to talk to Wind Horse and Wind Horse listened. He listened to the hopes of the Boy that someday he would run with the
leaves that blew across the ground. He listened as the Boy wished for someone to care and love the Boy who had the bad leg. As Wind Horse listened, he
began to feel the love for the Boy that the Boy had wanted to give a friend.
"Yes," Wind Horse thought, "This is my last ride for I have found one that needs the feelings that I can give. Since I am the last of my race, I will spend
the rest of my time with the one that can and will give the feelings that I need."
Wind Horse turned his head and nuzzled the Boy's head. He began to slow, for the end of the journey was near. The Boy looked up and saw the home of
those who had gone before. He realized that his journey was the last one he would ever make. He began to feel fear. But as the Horse stopped to let the
Boy down, the Boy realized that he had two good legs and that all his wounds, hunger, need, and hurt were gone. The Horse made no move to leave and
the Boy knew that the Horse had also made his last journey.
Wind Horse had never brought his riders to the Hunting Ground, so he was not familiar with the place. He had a new world to explore and he had a
friend to explore it with. As Wind Horse and the Boy walked into their new world, the Indian People felt a great sadness. Even though the People could
not know what was happening, the feeling of great loss and unhappiness was all around. Wind Horse could hear their cries of despair, but he knew that
with the passing of many suns and moons, they would soon forget him and his race.
Wind Horse had made his last journey. He would miss all his travels and the friends that he had made and helped along the way. He prayed to the Great
Spirit to send a reminder to the Indian People of the friendship that he and the Indian People had shared. And with Wind Horse's prayer, the Horse was
given to the Indian People as friends.
|The Tower of Babel
A Choctaw Legend
Many generations ago Aba, the good spirit above, created many men, all Choctaw, who spoke the language of the Choctaw, and understood one another.
These came from the bosom of the earth, being formed of yellow clay, and no men had ever lived before them. One day all came together and, looking
upward, wondered what the clouds and the blue expanse above might be. They continued to wonder and talk among themselves and at last determined
to endeavor to reach the sky.
So they brought many rocks and began building a mound that was to have touched the heavens. That night, however, the wind blew strong from above
and the rocks fell from the mound. The second morning they began work on the mound, but as the men slept that night the rocks were again scattered by
Once more, on the third morning, the builders set to their task. But once more, as the men lay near the mound that night, wrapped in slumber, the winds
came with so great a force that the rocks were hurled down on them.
The men were not killed, but when daylight came and they made their way from beneath the rocks and began to speak to one another, all were astounded
as well as alarmed -they spoke various languages and could not understand one another.
Some continued thenceforward to speak the original tongue, the language of the Choctaw, from these sprung the Choctaw tribe. The others, who could
not understand this language, began to fight among themselves. Finally they separated.
The Choctaw remained the original people; the others scattered, some going north, some east, and others west, and formed various tribes. This explains
why there are so many tribes throughout the country at the present time.
|The Trail of Tears
A Choctaw Legend
By Kelona Branning
A very long time ago, the Choctaw Indians were one people. The Choctaw Indians who had passed on lay to rest in the Sacred Mound.
The white men came along and tried to steal this land, but the Choctaws continued to live on their land, for over here they were happy.
The Choctaws became sad when they heard that white men were wanting the Choctaws to take a journey. Some Choctaws would run off to the forest and
hide from the white men, so they could not go. A few Choctaws used the help of the spirits in the Sacred Mound to have powers which could make them
invisible so the white men could not see them.
The Choctaws could not have survived if they fought the United States Army. A few white men helped "The Choctaw Way" stay alive, for they believed
that the Choctaws must continue to live in Mississippi and keep up their traditional ways. The Choctaws were happy that those kind of white people
helped them survive from the trail, which became known as the "Trail of Tears."
|When Parents Ask Children To Be Noisy
A Choctaw Legend
Do you know what an eclipse is? Today we know that when the moon passes in front of the sun and blocks it out, all is still safe. But our ancestors
believed that an eclipse was dangerous. They thought a black squirrel was nibbling at the sun!
They knew that noise frightened squirrels. So, whenever a solar eclipse began, all of the people would make a terrible noise until the squirrel was
frightened away from the sun.
Children were asked to scream, shout and yell. Grown-ups shot rifles into the air and banged pots and pans together. It was a frightening racket! And
do you know what? It always worked.
|Where Do Ants Come From
A Choctaw Legend
The Great Spirit made the very first people at the same time he made the grasshoppers, and both from yellow clay. They were born in an underground
cave and then walked to the surface through a large tunnel. People and grasshoppers emerged together and traveled off in all directions. But the people
were much bigger than the insects and trampled many of them... Some even killed the great mother grasshopper who lived in the cave!
Fearing they would be wiped out, the grasshoppers called out to Hashtali and asked that no more people be allowed to come forth. Now, the Great Spirit
hears the cries of all living things and he took pity on the grasshoppers. He made the tunnel much smaller and turned the remaining people into ants so
that they could no longer trample the grasshoppers. The ants you see today are those people. Don't step on them!
|Why the Flowers Grow
A Choctaw Legend
One day little Josephine went with her Aunt Selee to look at her grandmother's flower garden. Josephine thought her aunt would like some of the flowers
so she started picking some.
When her aunt saw Josephine, she called, "Sutapa, sutapa! (You hurt; quit)." Then she began to cry.
Josephine was distressed and puzzled. She ran into the house to her grandmother. "Grandmother," she said, almost in tears, "why is Aunt Selee crying? I
did not touch her but she called to me, 'You hurt, quit!'"
"I understand," replied her grandmother as she saw the flowers in Josephine's hand.
"Would you like to have these flowers, Grandmother?" Josephine asked when she saw her looking at them. "I broke them for Aunt Selee but I don't think
she would want them now."
"No, Josephine, she wouldn't. The Indians love the wild and the garden flowers but they never pick them."
"But, Grandmother, they are so pretty!"
"You do not understand, child. Let's sit here and I'll tell you why."
"Long ago when the world was young, there was in the heavens a constellation where shone the brightest star in all the sky. This beautiful star, Bright
Eyes, was happy because Earth people loved her beauty. After many years a star that made Bright Eyes dim came into the sky. This made her sad because
people could not see her face. She called to her sister, 'Come sisters, let us go down to Earth where we can live with the Earth people and make them happy.
The new star has hidden my light and the sky does not need us any longer.'
"On their way to Earth, Bright Eyes and her sister stopped on Mount Joy where lived Uncta, the great bronze spider, spinner of the finest webs. 'We must
learn to spin if Uncta will teach us,' said Bright Eyes. He was proud of his spinning and weaving and was glad to teach the maidens. He set them to work
and soon they were able to spin beautiful threads and weave them into fine cloth. 'You and your sisters have done well,' Uncta told Bright Eyes."
"How did they get to Earth?" asked Josephine.
"Bright eyes said to Uncta one day, 'Will you help us get to Earth? We want to teach the people how to spin and weave.' He wove a basket and fastened it
to a strong thread to lower them to Earth.
"When they touched the Earth, they became the Little Folk. They loved the forests; and there they lived, working, dancing and playing. Earth people
learned quickly to spin and weave. Then the Little Folk taught them how to make bright colors and use them in weaving their rugs and blankets. Earth
people, Indians, loved these Little Folk who helped them and Bright Eyes was happy again.
"Bright Eyes and her sisters assisted the Indians when they were sick. They went into the forests to pray to Great Spirit to protect the Indians. They told
the people to pray to Great Spirit too.
"All of the prayers went up to Sandlephone who sat on a great ladder high in the sky. As soon as the prayers had come into his hands, they were changed
into lovely flowers. He closed the blossoms and dropped the seeds upon the Earth while the perfume was carried on into the heavens where Great Spirit
"The Little Folk cared for the seeds as they fell and from them sprang the wild flowers. They watched and tended the flowers. The Indians loved them but
never hurt them. They called the flowers 'Tokens of Love from Great Spirit.'"
"Oh," said Josephine, "after this I shall not break them."
|Why the Owls Stare
A Choctaw Legend
Once upon a time Owl and Pigeon met and talked just like folks.
"There are more owls than pigeons," boasted Owl.
"No," said Pigeon, "Many more pigeons. I challenge you to count numbers!"
"Agreed," responded Owl. "The big woods is a fine place. Plenty trees for everybody."
"Fine. A week from today will give time to notify all owls and pigeons," Pigeon said.
On day to count owls come first. Trees were full of owls. They laughed and said, "Oowah-wah-wah!" They were sure there could not be as many pigeons.
Owls were all over the place.
Soon they heard a roar from east, then roar from south and roar from north. Pigeons covered trees so limbs broke
Owls could not believe there could be that many pigeons. They sat still moving their heads back and forth staring with wide eyes. Pigeons kept coming.
"Oo! Wee!" said owls darting under trees and flying away. They travel at night so they will not meet pigeons. Owls stared so long and hard at pigeons
their eyes just stayed that way.
|Why the Possum Has A Large Mouth
A Choctaw Legend
Very little food there was for Deer one dry season. He became thin and weak. One day he met Possum. Deer at once exclaimed, "Why, Possum, how fat
"How do you keep so fat when I cannot find enough to eat?"
Possum said, "I live on persimmons. They are very large this year, so I have all I want to eat."
"How do you get the persimmons?" asked Deer. "They grow so high!"
"That is easy," said Possum. "I go to the top of a high hill. Then I run down and strike a persimmon tree so hard with my head that all the ripe persimmons
drop on the ground. Then I sit there and eat them."
"That is easily done," said Deer. "I will try it. Now watch me."
Possum waited. Deer went to the top of a nearby hill. He ran down and struck the tree with his head. Possum watch him, laughing. He opened his mouth
so wide while he laughed that he stretched it out. That is why Possum has such a large mouth.