Citation
Interview with Louise Willis, December 4, 1973

Material Information

Title:
Interview with Louise Willis, December 4, 1973
Creator:
Willis, Louise ( Interviewee )
Publication Date:
Language:
English

Subjects

Subjects / Keywords:
Mississippi Choctaw Oral History Collection ( local )
Mississippi Choctaw.

Notes

Funding:
This text has been transcribed from an audio or video oral history. Digitization was funded by a gift from Caleb J. and Michele B. Grimes.

Record Information

Source Institution:
Samuel Proctor Oral History Program, Department of History, University of Florida
Holding Location:
This interview is part of the 'Mississippi Choctaw' collection of interviews held by the Samuel Proctor Oral History Program of the Department of History at the University of Florida
Rights Management:
Made available under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial 4.0 International license: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/.
Resource Identifier:
MC 5 ( SPOHP IDENTIFIER )

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MISS CHOC 5A

Ms. Louise Willis (W)

Interviewer: Dr. John K. Mahon (I)
December 4, 1973

Typed by: P. F. Williams



I: an interview on 4 December at about twenty minutes

of three, taking place in the principal's office of the

Choctaw Central High School. The interview is with

Louise Willis. And would you please just say your name

into the machine, too?

W: My name is Louise Willis.

I: Would you comment a little bit about you and this area,

your age if you're willing ,-I-. ?

W: I'm twenty-WtV9b years old and I'm inV i > vRyee

program as an administrative trainee.

I: Um-hmm. Were you born and brought up in this area?

W: I was born here, but I was brought up in different areas.

I: Such as...?

W: Uh, Ohio...

I: Oh?

W: In Ohio, and Ellisville, Mississippi. And I was mostly

going to public school when I was a young girl. And I

came back to the O&l' ChittoAwhere I originally grew

up, and I went back to the Indian school when I was about

in the sixth grade.

I: You mean this school here?










MISS CHOC 5A 2



W: No. The Bgp Chitto Indian School.

I: Oh, yes, I've been there in the last month.

W: And, uh, I had no...I didn't know any Choctaw lan-

guage at all.

I: Oh! You're the first I've encountered who did not.

Do you know it now?

W: Yes, I know most of it, but there's a lot of words

that I still haven't learned.

I: Well, are you a full-blooded Choctaw?

W: Yes, I'm full-blooded.

I: I see. Now, may I ask how'd it happen you were brought

up in Ohio?

W: Well, my family were relocated up to Ohio...

I: What does that mean?

W: That'means that if we decide on relocating to another

state where we could find a better job or be trained

into some specific job, something like that, well, then

our family would go there and he would...my father would

be trained into a job or something like that and we'd

live up there. And if we don't like it, we relocate

back.

I: Well, who was in charge of this what you call relocation ,



W: The BIA ke a 4 \I' \f C LcCv.

I: Did your father have to apply for this relocation?










MISS CHOC 5A 3



W: Yes. They had to apply.

I: And move to what, Canton, Ohio? What part of Ohio?

W: It was Cincinnati, Ohio.

I: Cincinnati.

W: Um-hmm.

I: And did they then put him into a training program?

W: Yes, they did.

I: And what was it he was training to do?

W: He was training to operate some sort of machine to

make stamps. S&H Green Stamps.

I: So how long in all did you stay there?

W: We stayed there for about three years. But before

that, we lived in Ellisville, Mississippi.

I: What were you doing there?

W: My father was training as being a watch repairman in

Jones County Junior College.

I: Oh, yes. And did he ever practice that as a trade?

W: No, he hasn't, but I believe he got good training out

of it. If he went back for a refreshment course or

something like that, I believe he could make...

I: I talked to Mr. Henry yesterday, and he'd been trained

as a watch...

W: That's my father.

I: Oh! Well, sure! Well, I had a discussion with him up

on the stage yesterday.

W; Yeah, that's my father.










MISS CHOC 5A 4



I: Oh, I didn't realize that. Well, yeah. He told me

about where he'd been and so on, but I didn't pick up

that he had a family. So you went to public schools.

W: Um-hmm. [affirmative]

I: In Cincinnati.

W: Um-hmm, until I was about ten or eleven years old.

And that's when I didn't know...all I knew was English,

I didn't know any Choctaw at all.

I: Your mother, you said, is Choctaw.

W: She is.

I: They didn't speak it at home?

W: They spoke it together, but not to us. They didn't

teach us, you know.

I: How many brothers and sisters have you got?

W: I have one younger sister and one younger brother.

I: I see. And they never learned the language either, I

guess.

W: My younger sister did, because she lived mostly with my

grandparents. But my younger brother never did learn

it, but he knows just about as much as I do now.

I: Well, were you known as an Indian when in the public

schools?

W: Yes, they, uh, they really recognized me quite well.

I: And what kind of status or position did that give you?

W: Well, I made friends real easily, but, you know, when

I had some friends they would say "This Indian's gonna

get you if you don't do something" or something like










MISS CHOC 5A 5



that, you know. But really, we didn't have any, uh,

any conflicts -Lt ..

I: You never found it any handicap or anything?

W: No, I didn't.

I: Did you date white boys?

W: No, I wasn't at the dating age...

I: Oh, that's right.

W: ...and I wasn't thinking...

I: And by the time you were dating age you were back here?

W: Yes, I was back here.

I: And have you only dated Indian boys?

W: Yes.

I: I see. Is your husband a full-blooded Choctaw as well?

W: Yes.

I: I see.

W: He's deceased now.

I: Oh.

W: For...it'll be two years this coming January.

I: Wasn't he quite young?

W: Yes. He would be twenty-seven.

I: What was his problem?

W: He was in a car accident. And I have two small children,

one and two years old.

I: Yeah. Well now, how much education did you pick up along

the way?










MISS CHOC 5A 6



W: Well, after I graduated I went to Haskell Indian Junior

College...

I: And remind me where that is. Lawrence, Kansas?

W: Lawrence, Kansas, right. And I took business but I

didn't like it there, so I went up on to Chicago and 7

became a long-distance telephone operator. And I stayed

there for about six months and then I came back here.

And I had been going with my husband for so many years

that he asked me to marry him, so that's when we got

married. And after that, I got a job here in the

47Q Program as a teacher's assistant. And through

that program I've gotten some extension courses from

different colleges. And now I'm in this New Careers

Program which will give me about fifty-seven hours of

college credits.

I: How many do you have to have to get a B. A. degree?

W: I don't know about a B. A. degree, but I think you

need about, I'm not sure, but it's sixty-three hours

or sixty-four hours for an A. A. degree.

I: Well, so you are now functioning as a teacher's assis-

tant?

W: No, I am an administrative trainee.

I: What do you do in that? I mean, I don't understand

the term.

W: Okay, like, uh...first of all I started here with the

principal Mr. Gibson, and he shows how they work in










MISS CHOC 5A 7



the office and how things are worked through the-BIA

and how they get their property and supplies and things

likV-that. And I also work with the fe pro-

gram coordinator, Mr. Calvin -_xa_-- and I also

work with the guidance department here and see how they

work with the young people here. And then after four

months you rotate up to the Choctaw Indian Agency, the

BIA agency in town-Philadelphia. And there I work

with the personnel manager first.

I: Is he an Indian, or is he a white man?

W: No, he is a white man. And I have to look through, I

have to read a lot of books of personnel management and

civil service, and 4hav to know a lot of these things

because he would ask me questions about such-and-such a

thing, and then I would have to know about in case I

do work in some kind of civil service personnel manage-

ment.

I: Do you type and things like that?

W: No, I didn't get typing in high school. It wasn't in

high school the yearRI was there. And then I rotated

to administrative manager)under the administrative

manager, and he would in turn ask me questions and things

like that and I would have to look it up in different

areas, branches of the Choctaw agency. And I also

learned what his jobs are and how an administrator

should work and things like that. And now I'm working











MISS CHOC 5A 8



under the education principal for the reservation, and

I go to meetings and I go to...sometimes I go to school

council meetings, and...

I: Well, what would be the ultimate end of a trainee-ship

like that? What kind of job can you move into with this

background?

W: We also get college courses, too, so I think the people

that are in administration--there are five of us in ad-

ministration--a"4 we could get in some kind of super-

visory position...

I: In schools?

W: In schools or in business or in factories, or anywhere,

I think.

I: And would yourintention be to remain here in the Choctaw

area?

W: MyNintentions...yes, I liked...after I found out about

personnel management, I think I really like that better

than the other areas.

I: Are your children in this school here?

W: They're too young to go to school yet.

I: I see. And what do they do while you're out in the big

world working?

W: They're in A day-care center that they have provided for

us here at the Methodist Church.

I: Oh.

W: And they keep them there all day until I go and pick them

up.










MISS CHOC 5A 9



I: Are you a Methodist?

W: No, I haven't gone to a church at all.

I: I see. Do you know of any ceremonies the Choctaws

have that pre-date Christianity? You know, traditional

Indian...?

W: I have gone to a couple of wedding ceremonies, Choctaw

wedding ceremonies. And I think in my community, Bogue

Chitto, they do that quite a lot.

I: Would you mind describing a Choctaw wedding ceremony?

What's that like? This is non-Christian, you're saying.

W: Non-Christian, yeah, it doesn't have anything to do with

church."

I: Well, what happens? Is that something you can tell?

W: Yes. If the family invites you to the wedding, you would

have to bring them some food like beans or something like

that in half-gallon cans. And you'd also have to bring...

the men would have to bring a bag of biscuits, a bag of

sweet biscuits. I don't know if it's cookies or what

they call it but it's sweet. And they have a ribbon

around the bag. It's usually a flour-bag that they put

it in and they put the name on there, and the women

bring the buckets and the men bring the biscuits into

the home. And they kill...they sometimes kill a hog

and they cook hominy on the outside pots. And the

family of the woman, they all go way off somewhere andf'/'
J










MISS CHOC 5A 10



talk for a long time. And the family of the man go way

off et- another road and talk for a long time. And then

the man that is in charge of the wedding ceremony will

start talking and say that this family are gonna unite

with this family, and say something like that and they'll

be start coming, walking toward the house...and this

family over here will start bringing them in. They'll

hold them-by the elbow and then bring them in. And they

have a chair outside in front of the house, two chairs.

And they sit the woman in one chair and they sit the man

in the other chair. And the man that's in charge will

say something, you know--I don't remember what they say.

I: No, that doesn't matter.

W: And then they'll tell them to stand up. They stand up,

they move the chair back over /et ruivt v and

they can sit down again. They sit down and this time
Ct
they say the family of the man come and shake hands or

welcome the bride to the family. So they come over and

they give her either ribbons or handkerchiefs or some

sort of thing like that to her. They lay it on top

of her head. She will have a handkerchief--not hand-

kerchief but a scarf-on her head. They'll be wearing

the Choctaw dress and the men will be wearing the Choc-

taw shirt. And then the man in charge will say the

family will come and welcome the man to their family.

So they come over there and all they do is shake hands.
A1,











MISS CHOC 5A 11



And while they're doing this, the women' that's cooking ,

w4o have collected the biscuits and the beans or whatever

the people that were invited brought to eat, they'll be

laying out the sacks of flour or whatever the biscuits

came out of and they'll be laying out the cans. And
5
after they have collected the ribbon and the scarfs and

the handkerchiefs and things that the bride got, they

will go backe%4e- and they will lay them on top of the

bags and on top of the cans. And whoever the cans and

the bags belong to, whoever were invited, they will go

back there and they will pick up the cans and they will

keep the handkerchief or the ribbon or whatever they

got on top of their cans.

I: Is that considered in white society a legal marriage?

W: Yes.

I: Is it registered?

W: No, it's not registered but it's legal.

I: But it's considered legal so the...

W: In the Choctaw tribe it was a long time ago.

I: Well, how about the white society? I mean does this

count? Somebody I was talking to said that, you know,

a common-law marriage and if one person dies the children

are not entitled to various things.

W: Yes, that's true. But the younger ones now, when they get

married, they will just go ahead and get the license and

everything, but they still want to go through the ceremony










MISS CHOC 5A 12



the way the Choctaws used to a long time ago.

I: So that's pretty common.

W: So that's the way they do it now.

I: What about divorce? It used to be said in some Indian

societies, teG Creek society, it was really quite easy,

: What do you know about-..t -

W: My grandfather told me that a long time ago if they just

didn't want to live together anymore that they just sep-

arated. Just like white societies do when they separate.

They just separate and don't live together anymore.

I: What about it now?

W: Now they have to get a legal divorce.

I: Go through the standard procedure.

W: Uh-huh [affirmative].

I: Well now, you spoke about this being almost a marriage

of two families. And is that what it really amounts to?

W: Yes, I think so.

I: Well, do the families adhere together pretty closely? For

instance, did you and your husband's family and vice versa?

W: Um-hmm [affirmative]. My husband...we didn't go through

the ceremony, but my husband...you know, a long time ago

they said the husband would have to bring in a hog, and

the other family would have to-party and have dinner and

everything like that. So that's what my husband did, and

his parents and family made up a.big dinner and everything

like that, and he provided the hog and they killed it and

cooked the hog and everything like that.










MISS CHOC 5A 13



I: Well, did you there 44ie-to.remain...I.mean, what I'm

trying to get at is the relationship of a bride with

her husband's parents close and the rest of the family?

W: Yes, yes.

I: Remains so?

W: Um-hmm [affirmative].

I: And vice versa.

W: Yes.

I: Well, with regard to women in the Choctaw society I

don't know much about Choctaw-society, but in the Florida

Indians, the women were always quite aloof from other than

their own men and would remain so. What is your experience

now? With Choctaws.

W: What do you mean by aloof? Sticking to their husbands...?

I: Well, all I mean, the Seminole women--except the very young

ones that have been educated in the white society--talk very

reluctantly with the white man. They still will.

W: Oh, yes. That's the way it used to be a long time ago. I

can still remember my grandparents, and they were that way.

And, you know, when they walked in town, the woman would

always walk behind her husband.

I: Do you remember this, or...?

W: Yes, I remember it.

I: Is that so any longer?

W: No, it's not so any longer. The younger women just walk

side by side by their husbands.










MISS CHOC 5A 14



I: How's that come about? Have you got any idea?

W: I think the younger people had decidedAthe man is

not going to have so much say-so in the family. The

women and the men will be equally...when they're married.

I: You said you inquired of some of your relatives about

clans.

W: Yes, I did. I asked my grandparents about that, and my

grandfather said he doesn't remember--his last name was

7hSw7opJ --but he doesn't remember S any clans.

I: I'm surprised at that. It's still active. I don't know

how vital, but all the Florida Indians know/clan they're

in, and there is some respect paid to it in marriage.

Well, how did...how is descent traced among Choctaws--

through the woman's side of the family or the man's?

Do you know?

W: I would think...

I: In the Creek culture it went through the woman's.

W: I think it would be through the woman..

I: And you know, if there was a chieftainship hereditary, it

passed through the woman's side. instead of through the -

man's.

W: Um-hmm.

I: Is that the way it was as far as you know?

W: I think it was,the way he-spoke abbut"it. Because he

said we didn't get our last names...he told me that the

namesthey used to have, they only had one name. They










MISS CHOC 5A 15



never did have a last name, the Choctaws didn't. But

the white people, when they would go to the store or

something, they said you have to have a last name. So

they gave them such-and-such a last name and that's how

they started having last names. And my grandfather said

that's how come theyI' pO-fk the name Thompson, the

last name.

I: Um-hmm.

W: And this was pretty interesting to me. My cousin and I

were referring back to our history because we wanted to

know some things about how we got the name Thompson,

how we got my last name Henry, and things like this.

e said it's because the white man gave us the last name.

In the beginning iwe, only had one name.

I: Is your grandfather that you're talking about still living?

W: He is still living.

I: Do you occasionally talk to him...

W: Yes, I do.

I: ...about the Choctaw past?

W: He is one of the. persons I personally would like to inter-

view.

I: Besides the clan thing, what else have you questioned him

about?

W: I've asked him about the names that we have--these towns

like Philadelphia, cn.lUSiKg and4 o wA eV4

and what they stand for and things like that.



4










MISS CHOC 5A 16



I: Of course, the Philadelphia and Kosciusko weren't Indian,

I don't think. They're some other name.

W: Well, my grand-...

I: What did he say?

W: He said there was a trading post in the town of Philadelphia

where it is now, and the Indians would come there and they

would trade. And the white men would ask the Indians, "What

do you call this when you come to the store?" And the Choc-

taws said, L" 'w ." e. i ," '"

and that means Milky Way. y means "star," IL.

_di_ means "backwards," but he said it's sort of like

"Milky Way." Anyway, he said the whites just kept on saying

it/ /fL ,i and '/f/l4l'L)S 6 d and it finally

got to Philadelphia.

I: Oh, that's the way he says it was named.

W: Um-hmm [affirmative].

I: What'd he say about Kosciusko? Is that the way you pro-

nounce it?

W: Kosciusko.

I: Kosciusko.

W: Okay, he said that was called O 'k 7c'i o "

which means "where you drink water." And so the whites

there again changed it to _D_ _tesr u

and kept on changing to Kosciusko.

I: Any other names around here that he spoke of?

W: Uh, Shuqualak.









MISS CHOC 5A 17



I: Well, that's plainly Indian.

W: Shuqualak, he said that is...I asked him if it's stu /<

--the way he pronounces it. He says i1, h l

/C_ and that stands for beads. And he said that's where

the Indians used to go to get beads, to make their bead-

work and things and that's how come the whites there. then

again changed...kept on changing A. 0 /0/. ,

( to Shuqualak.

I: Have you had particular definable problems in learning

Choctaw?

W: Oh, yes. Uh...

I: I mean specific. Could you pinpoint why you have any dif-

ficulty? What is the problem, vocabulary or pronunciation

or word order or what?

W: Pronunciation. Pronunciation.

I: I see. Did you ever have a course in formal English gram-

mar?

W: Formal English grammar...?

I: Well, you know what I mean. Talk about verbs, nouns, adjec-

tives...

W: Um-hmm [affirmative].

I: Are those terms all meaningful to you, new, -ter verbs and

stuff?

W: Yes, they are.

I: Well, could you tell me, for instance, how does Choctaw

differ? The action words, the verbs--is there a different










MISS CHOC 5A 18



usage? Is there-a different way they're applied?

W: First of all, when we say something in English, we turn

around and we say it in Choctaw, we say it backwards.

I: Yes. I was told that by somebody else. You put the

action word first, don't you?

W: Yes, most of the time.

I: Could you illustrate that? I mean by telling me some-

thing in English and then telling me the same thing in

Choctaw?

W: Uh, let me see...

I: I don't understand Choctaw, naturally, but...

W: "Let's run to the door." And in Choctaw would say, 4/aflI



I: And if you literally translated that, what would you have

said?

W: It would say, "run..." No, excuse me. Let me say that
again. okCi iihS-al'le 4
again. b / k Okay, I said, "let's

run...run..."

I: You really can't literally translate it, can you?

W: No, I can't.

I: I think in general you can't do it. I've had other people

that tried the language and say the same thing.

W: Most of the Indians, the older ones, think in Choctaw...

I: Yes.

W: ...and then they if have to transfer it to English before

they will speak back to you.

I: And of course, you go the other way around.










MISS CHOC 5A 19



W: Yeah, I go the other way around.

I: You think you're gonna ever get to the place where you

think in Choctaw?

W: I don't think I ever will. Of course I think that's one

way...one reason why some of the children are slow at

learning English and learning things in school.

I: Well, how do you get to practice Choctaw?
a4-L-
W: Well, I was raised up. after we came back from Ohio. my

parents were divorced, and I was raised by my grandparents.

And also, I wasn't accepted in the Indian school. I was

accepted by the principal and the teachers but...

I: Down at Bogue Chitto.

W: Um-hmm, down at Bogue Chitto. But I wasn't accepted by

the students because I couldn't speak any Choctaw and

because I made good grades in school. And I really

wanted to have some friends, so I started...I tried, I

really tried to learn some Choctaw and I did by my grand-

parents. Even though they would laugh at me I still

kept on trying, and I finally accomplished a little bit.

Even now, some of the people still don't understand me

when I say something in Choctaw, but...and they will

laugh at me too, but I tell'em back in English--if they

knew English--but I'll try to illustrate what I'm talking

about.

I: And so you talk it just as much as you can.

W: Um-hmm [affirmative]. My children, my little girl, she

talks Choctaw also now. She's two years old.










MISS CHOC 5A 20



I: Where'd she pick it up, from you?

W: From my family and from my mother-in-law and her family.

And she speaks pretty good, and she also knows English.

She can say this in Choctaw, then she turns around and _

say it in English. So I think that is real good for

my girl. A bothrmy kids to know English and Choctaw.

I: Are you familiar with the term "generation gap"?

W: Yes.

I: Does that exist in Choctaw society?

W: 4, Yes! With other families, I don't know, but with my

grandparents I had experienced it a lot. We never got

along like when I was at a dating age and if I wanted

to go out, they would not allow us to go out. Or any-

thing like that. They wouldn't understand. My grand-

father told me that if you go with one man, go out on

a date one time, that you were meant to marry that man.

And to me, I thought you could go out with different

men and you would finally find the man that you wanted

to marry or something like that. Well, they had the

idea that this was the way it was supposed to be--when

you go out with one man, that's the man that you're

supposed to marry. And before that, my grandfather -

said they used to pick out what family you're supposed

to be married to.

I: That might possibly have been clan affairs...

W: Yeah.










MISS CHOC 5A 21



I: ...but I don't know. Well, the role of women, apparently,

in Choctaw society is changing...

W: Yes.

I: ...pretty sharply. Where does it finally end up, in your

opinion?

S W: I think the young people realize that they need to keep

/ / their traditions. Some of the cultural things that we

have here--we're proud of it* So, this is one reason why

we're trying to teach our own children to speak Choctaw a lA

to learn how to do crafts and things like that the Choctaws

have done a long time ago, and this is another way of

finding out about Choctaw history--by our grandparents,

what stories our grandparents has told us we will in turn

tell our children.

I: Do you know anything much about Choctaw history? Have

you ever had occasion to read any history of the Choctaws

or anything?

W: I've read quite a few pamphlets, but they didn't mean much

to me because I didn't...I wasn't...you know, you don't

get involved in something you don't...unless I was assigned

to doing that sort of thing I would really try to v into

it and see what it was about. But most of what I know iS

by my grandfather.

I: Is there any library around here where you would have

access to, uh...










MISS CHOC 5A 22



W: Choctaw history?

I: "'.'history?

W: Yeah...

I: Where would you go if you wanted to read something?

W: The library we have here at the high school. They have

them locked up, but we can go there and read some of the

books that they have that the missionaries a long time

ago who came here had something to do with the Indian

people--had wrote stories about, or some PtDot history

about things there...

I: Well, you're proud of the Indian tradition you say.- And

what is it specifically you're proud of? I mean, what do

you know about the Indian tradition? I'd just like to

hear. What is it?

W: I'm proud that we still have our dances, the Indian dances.

And I'm proud to know that we still...we're now realizing

that we exist and we can accomplish something if we really

try hard. And we are. our tribal councilmen we are

accomplishing something.

I: What is it you're accomplishing?

W: I think some people don't...

I: I'm just asking, you know, because this all--how people

think about their society and so on--has to do with the

culture.

W: I think we need to know more education, more Indian history.

And the students realize this and I think they're...anyb/Hn










MISS CHOC 5A 23



that comes up with Indians, we always want to know about

it--on TV or in the newspaper or something like that, we

always want to know what the other Indians are doing.

And I'm glad that, for one thing, that the Choctaws are

peace'loving Indians, that...

I: Well, is it so that they always were?

W: No, I don't believe so. My grandfather told me a story

one time where we lived, Bogue Chitto, there was a line

between Kemper County and Neshoba County. There was a

line there, and the Choctaws...this might have been part

of a clan also. But the Choctaws in Bogue Chitto were

not supposed to go over the line where the other part of

the Choctaws werejon Kemper County. Because of some

reason I don't remember, I don't recall that. But he

said if our Indians caught some of their tribe--which

were still Choctaws but they were called something else

probably, probably a clan name or something--if they

caught them in our area, they would have to punish themC.

But they wouldn't kill them, they would send them back.

They would punish them se J Imean, really...to make

them remember not to come back. Well, the reason was

that they didn't want our people to be going over their

line to hunt for deer and rabbits and 0iQ, I' and

things, and also they had different conflicts, you know,

they fought about different things. Some were warlike

and some weren't. And some were ru C P ? t

and others, you know, wanted to be on this side of the











MISS CHOC 5A 24



line and some wanted to be on this side of the line. And

I believe that's the way it was. That's the way my grand-

father told me it was a long time ago.

I: Did he ever tell you about any other encounters or con-

flicts of this type? Did he ever talk about conflicts

with the whites? I guess that's before his time, isn't

it?

W: Yes. If I sit down and really ask him, I think he would

tell me some stories that his father or grandfather had

told him.

I: You'll have a chance to do that under this program.

W: Yeah. He's eigh-, I think he's eighty-two years old.

I: Is his mind clear?

W: Yes. He's still farming. He still makes a garden and

everything.

I: What's he farm on? Reservation land?

W: Yes, yes. _'_4 land. He's been there for almost all

of his life. He still lives in the government house that

they had built a long time ago, but which they keep re-

pairing every year, you know. And my grandmother, she
A
tells me some stories that the ladies used to do a long

time ago, and things like that. She says that she remem-

bers her mother telling her not to look at a white man.

I: Yes, that's the sort of thing I was referring to a little

while ago, about...

W: Uh-huh. To never look at a white man because if you do

they will come and catch you and take you away, she said.










MISS CHOC 5A 25



And especiallysthey used to wear beards a long time ago,

I suppose...?

I: Yes.

W: She said especially one with a beard. Don't ever look at

a white man with a beard.

I: I wonder what the occasion for that was. Do you know?

W: I don't know. But I'd like to bring that up and ask her.

I: Might have gone back to the Spaniards even. They were

bearded.

W: Um-hmm.

I: Yes, you have Zperhaps some very interesting opportunities

talking to your grandparents, I would think.

W: There are a lot of Indian words that I still can not under-

stand, but maybe somebody can...

I: Do they know enough English to help you with them?

W: Yes.

I: Well now, do you live on the reservation somewhere?

W: No. I own my own land and my own home.

I: Oh.

W: Outside of the reservation here.

I: How much land do you own?

W: I own just one acre of land and a house, a brick home.

I: Well, how do you handle an acre of land? Isn't that quite

an order for you?

W: No. I have a fence around the house to keep the kids from or";'

out in the street, but it's pretty hard to raise grass on











MISS CHOC 5A 26



the red clay. So, I have mostly red clay on my land,

but maybe by next year I'll have it fixed up again.

I: Is that something that you and -your husband bought?

W: Yes. He lived in that house for about two months

before he passed on.

,rit i I: Why did you elect to move off the reservation?

S W: From my reservation?

I: Yeah, and tla live on privately owned land.

W: Well, the tribe would let you lease some land, but we

thought the Indians should start owning their own land

again. And that was our reason for buying our land.

And the land behind my house is still for sale and if

I want to, I can buy it.

I: Is it expensive?

W: Yes, it is expensive.

I: And rising, I suppose.

W: Yes.

I: In price.

W: Um-hmm.

I: Well, you will continue, I suppose, to work;as a career.

Your object is...

W: Is to finish college and to...

I: Oh, you want to go on.

W: Uh-huh, to go on and finish college as much as I possibly

can, and come back and try to help my people in whatever

way I can.











MISS CHOC 5A 27



I: And with regard to the history, in what way do you think

that would help them?

W: The younger people now?

I: Well, yeah. I don't care. I mean you have spoke of our

program as being something that would help them. What

would it do for them, do you think?

W: I think it would make them try to find out, to...even in

your own home, go and ask I iWV, parents how did

this come about, what did they do a long time ago. And

you'll find in different communities, everything is dif-

ferent.

I: Of the seven?

W: Yes, of the seven communities. And even in language, our

accents are different.

I: That's curious.

W: Yes. Conehatta says things...we get along with people very

well, wvt different communities. But there are certain

/k words and certain accents that are quite different and you

can tell.

I: I wasn't aware of that.

W: And I was glad that you were getting some tapesfrom dif-

ferent communities, because then you will find outA there

are different ways of doing things, that there are different

ways that the Indians have done things a long time ago.

I: You can't read Choctaw, I suppose. Can you?

W: I used to read the Bible in Choctaw, but I don't think I

can do that anymore.










MISS CHOC 5A 28



I: Have you ever seen anything else in Choctaw but the

Bible? I mean, is there any...is it...

W: We have a Choctaw dictionary.

I: You do? But is there anything else written in Choctaw

but the Bible?

W: Uh, Mr. Calvin Isaac here made a speech not long ago for

the Head Start little graduation they had. And he spoke

in Choctaw and English and he wrote it up in Choctaw,

and he gave me a letter one time--sent me a letter one

time. It was all in Choctaw. Bat I couldn't read part

of it.

I: Do you know where the written Choctaw language came from?

W: I think it came from the missionaries when they were here.

I: Yeah, um-hmm. They...I think phonetically, you know.

W: Yeah.

I: From the way it sounds, put it together. And I believe

this is true of all the North American Indians except

Serpalia.is supposed to have put together a written lan-

guage for the Cherokees ./og,.A VerI /1 tt.

W: Yeah.

I: Have you ever had anything to do with the Oklahoma Choctaws?

W: No, I haven't.

I: Is there any...do any of them come here to go to school

that you know of?

W: No. We have one person here that teaches, he's a Choctaw

from Oklahoma. I haven't had...I haven't seen any as I

know of now, I don't know...










MISS CHOC 5A 29



I: Is there any special relationship between the Choctaws

in Oklahoma and these here?

W: I don't think so. My grandfather was also telling me

that he had some relatives in Oklahoma.

I: I'm sure he does. Now, I don't mean to embarrass you

with the question, but do you know how the Choctaws

got split like this, with some in Oklahoma and some

here? I mean, what is that story? Do you happen to

know anything about it?

W: Um, just that some wanted to stay here and they had to

hide where the //i aotac() s, or the

____ -OUD () Cave. They hid there for so many

years until some white man found them there and thought

that they needed help, because our people were having a

hard time of living./fo they finally set up a reservation,

the government did, you know. As I recall, the Indians

did own land, but taxation came in and they had to pay

tax on their land. And the white men would get the

Indians drunk to where they wouldn't pay for their tax.

And when they didn't pay -Ftrit, they would put it in

the trust fund for the government, or the government just

took the land away from'them.

I: Well, this story, is that the story, that those who remained

east of the Mississippi hid in a cave?

W: Yes, that's what my grandfather said.

I: Is that right? I'm not familiar with the story, but that's











MISS CHOC 5A 30



a very interesting point. And they just hid there for

a while?

W: Um-hmm [affirmative]. You know where the I-eto })0-

&11 AjgA is?

I: No, I don't.

W: Well, that's where they...

I: Oh! I've seen it, too.

W: You've seen it?

I: The tribe's supposed to have originated there, or something.

W: Yes, they said that God wanted them to stay, so they stayed

there. But when the white man was going to take all the

Choctaws to Oklahoma, some of the people that wanted to

stay ran back, it's about two.miles back and you'll find

the ___, ______ If you walk, you know, about

two miles back to the _-_ _______ Cave. They

ran away and they hid, and these other Choctaws went on

to Oklahoma. They ran away and hid and that's where they

stayed most of the time. It's near water, the cave...

I: Yeah, I believe that I visited the mound. I believe the

last time we were here in March I was shown that.

W: But the cave is a different place from the mound, and the

Indians used to run two miles from the white people.

I: Where'd you learn that?

W: My grandfather.

I: And where did the Choctaws originate? Around here? What

about their origins? Did your grandfather or anybody else










MISS CHOC 5A 3



ever tell you?

W: Um, he didn't tell me, but I think they originated from

somewhere in...what county I was thinking of...

I: Around here in Mississippi?

W: No, the other side of Bogue Chitto.

I: But in this area.

W: Um-hmm [affirmative].

I: This is the original seat of the Choctaws.

W: I think so.

I: Well, turn to another subject for a minute. You spoke

about the white man getting some of the Choctaws drunk.

Among the whites there is always the legend or the state-

ment that Indians are especially susceptible to alcohol.

Do you believe that?

W: No, I don't believe all of them are. Maybe a few of them.

I think Indians who do that want to get out their hos-

tilities, out their emotions and things. But the younger

people nowadays, they do like the white society do.

Some of them drink occasionally and invite people to come

to their house and drink. And they don't go, you know,

having wild parties or having fights and things like that,

like they see on TV.

I: Around here you don't have any particular liquor problem,

would you say?

W: Well, I think have a few people who are still that way.

That's why we have a...











MISS CHOC 5A 32



I: Of course that's true in any society.

W: Yeah...alcoholism program we have to try to help these

people who are alcoholics.

I: You have a ro am specifically addressed to that?

",^^: You have any other serious problems among the young?

I mean, has there been any tendency to hard drugs or

anything?

W: No. Not unless...

I: How about marijuana?

W: No.

I: No? Not at all?

W: Not unless another tribe would come to this school and

bring it with them and let them experiment with,.let the

Choctaw students experiment with them.

I: But you've never seen any problem.

W: No, not with...

I: Is there discipline around here? They don't have a special

discipline problem in this school?

W: The junior high students, I believe. They're the hardest

group to get along with.

I: Yeah.

W: It's because parents are not...the older parents are not

so much pushing their children into education. They just

let them do what they want to. But I don't believe in

that myself. I want my kids to have an education, I want

them to have a good one. So I would thinkAthe parents C-'











MISS CHOC 5A 33



it's the parent's fault -i their children are not learning.

if they're not learning anything at all.

I: We're getting toward the end of our tape on one side, and

we've been running these about one side. And I think

probably you and I have talked as long as right now we

profitably can, unless you have some other comment you

want to make. **

W: No.

I: Why don't you just shut it off?





Full Text

PAGE 1

MISS CHOC 5A Ms. Louise Willis (W) Interviewer: Dr. John K. Mahon (I) December 4, 1973 Typed by : P F. Williams 1\\.17 ,.$ I: ---r,an interview on 4 December at about twenty minutes of three, taking place in the principal's office of the Choctaw Central High School. The interview is with Louise Willis. And would you please just say your name into the machine, too? W: My name is Louise Willis. I: Would you connnent a little bit about you and this area, . -\-o your age if you' re willing, if ..... ? W: I'm twenty~ years old and I'm inf iJ~ ~:l~i t1,,o.ye-e.rs program as an administrative trainee. I: Um-hnnn. Were you born and brought up in this area? W: I was born here, but I was brought up in different areas. I: Such as ? W: Uh, Ohio •.. I: Oh? W: In Ohio, and Ellisville, Mississippi. And I was mostly going to public school when I was a young girl~ And I "f{ ESR tf fl TT fl rJ came back to the 80Gi. 1 e Chittof\where I originally grew up, and I went back to the Indian school when I was about in the sixth grade. I: You mean this school here?

PAGE 2

MISS CHOC 5A ~ojl-le... W: No. The Chitto, Indian School. I: Oh, yes, I've been there in the last month. W: And, uh, I had no I didn't know any Choctaw lan guage at all. I: Oh! You're the first I've encountered who did not. Do you know it now? W: Yes, I know most of it, but there's a lot of words that I still haven't learned. I: Well, are you a full-blooded Choctaw? W: Yes, I'm full-blooded. 2 I: I see. Now, may: I ask how'd it happen you were brought up in Ohio? W: Well, my family were relocated up to Ohio I: What does that mean? W: That'means that if we decide on relocating to another state where we could find a better job or be trained into some specific job, something like that, well, then our family would go there and he would my father would be trained into a job or something like that and we'd live up there. And if we don't like it, we relocate back. I: Well, who was in charge of this what you call relocation? f/lW.11 W: The BIA kt\l't. {\,\ll.J__) IJ\... l,\\,\.C\"'-~{)...t,: I: Did your father have to apply for this relocation?

PAGE 3

----~--------------------. -.. . MISS CHOC 5A W: Yes. They had to apply. I: And move to what, Canton, Ohio? What part of Ohio? W: It was Cincinnati, Ohio. I: Cincinnati. W: Um-hmm. I: And did they then put him into a training program? W: Yes, they did. I: And what was it he was training to do? W: He was training to operate some sort of machine to make stamps. S&H Green Stamps. I: So how long in all did you stay there? W: We stayed there for about three years. But before that, we lived in Ellisville, Mississippi. I: What were you doing there? W: My father was training as being a watch repairman in Jones County Junior College. I: Oh, yes. And did he ever practice that as a trade? W: No, he hasn't, but I believe he got good training out of it. If he went back for a refreshment course or something like that, I believe he could make 3 I: I talked to Mr. Henry yesterday, and he'd been trained as a watch W: That' . s my father. I: Oh! Well, sure! Well, I had a discussion with him up on the stage yesterday. W: Yeah, that's my father.

PAGE 4

MISS CHOC SA I: Oh, I didn't realize that. Well, yeah. He told me about where he'd been and so on, but I didn't pick up that he had a family. So you went to public schools. W: Um-hmm. [affirmative] I: In Cincinnati. W: Um-hmm, until I was about ten or eleven years old. 4 And that's when I didn't know all I knew was English, I didn't know any Choctaw at all. I: Your mother, you said, is Choctaw. W: She is. I: They didn't speak it at home? W: They spoke it together, but not to us. They didn't teach us, you know. I: How many brothers and sisters have you got? W: I have one younger sister and one younger brother. I: I see. And they never learned the language either, I guess. W: My younger sister did, because she lived mostly with my grandparents. But my younger brother never did learn it, but he knows just about as much as I do now. I: Well, were you known as an Indian when)in : the public schools? W: Yes, they, uh, they really recognized me quite well. I: And what kind of status or position did that give you? W: Well, I made friends real easily, but, you know, when I had some friends they would say "This Indian's gonna get you if you don't do something" or something like

PAGE 5

MISS CHOC 5A that, you know. But really, we didn't have any, uh, any conflicts _,_~_f-_vt_f_f_ I: You never found it any handicap or anything? W: No, I didn ' t I: Did you date white boys? W: No, I wasn't at the dating age I: Oh, that's right. W: and I wasn't thinking 5 I: And by the time you were dating age you were back here? W: Yes, I was back here. I: And have you only dated Indian boys? W: Yes. I: I see. Is your husband a full-blooded Choctaw as well? W: Yes. I: I see. W: He's deceased now. I: Oh. W: For .•. it'll be two years this coming January. I: Wasn't he quite young? W: Yes. He would be twenty-seven. I: What was his problem? W: He was in a car accident. And I have two small children, one and two years old. I: Yeah. Well now, how much education did you pick up along the way?

PAGE 6

MISS CHOC SA 6 W: Well, after I graduated I went to Haskell Indian Junior College I: And remind me where that is. Lawrence, Kansas? W: Lawrence, Kansas, right. And I took business but I . didn't like it there, so I went up on to Chicago and 7 became a long-distance telephone operator. And I stayed there for about six months and then I came back here. And I had been going with my husband for so many years that he asked me to marry him, so that's when we got married. And after that, I got a job here in the J ~14.., f1V1. Program as a teacher's assistant. And through that program I've gotten some extension courses from different colleges. And now I'm in this New Careers Program which will give me about fifty-seven hours of college credits. I: How many do you have to have to get a B. A. degree? W: I don't know about a B. A. degree, but I think you need about, I'm not sure, but it's sixty-three hours or sixty-four hours for an A. A. degree. I: Well, so you are now functioning as a teacher! s assis tant? W: No, I am an administrative trainee. I: What do you do in that? I mean, I don't understand the term. W: Okay, like, uh first of all I started here with the Ch.~e,-bw t,e-v-..,1:_\,vo.l> principalA Mr. Gibson, and he shows how they work in

PAGE 7

MISS CHOC 5A 7 the office and how things are worked through the-BIA and how they get their property and supplies and things li#te.that. And I also work with the Title r pro gram coordinator, Mr. Calvin ../4.~ ... , and I also work with the guidance department here and see how they work with the young people here. And then after four months you rotate up to the Choctaw Indian Agency, the BIA agency in to+Philadelphia. And there I workeJl.. with . thepersonnelmanager first. I: Is he an Indian, or is he a white man? W: No, he is a white man. And I have to look through, I have to read a lot of books of personnel management and y ~lu:,'civil service, and~ to know a lot of these things because he would ask me questions about such-and-such a thing, and then I would have to know about in case I do work in some kind of civil service personnel management. I: Do you type and things like that? W: No, I didn't get typing in high . school. It wasn't in -r it1"-' high school the yearAI was there. And then I rotated to administrative managerJunder the administrative manager, and he would in turn ask me questions and things like that and I would have to look it up in different areas~ branches of the Choctaw agency. And I also learned what his jobs are and how an administrator should work and things like that. And now I'm working

PAGE 8

MISS CHOC 5A 8 under the education principal for the reservation, and I go to meetings and I go to sometimes I go to school council meetings, and I: Well, what would be the ultimate end of a trainee-ship like that? What kind of job can you move into with this background? W: We also get college courses, too, so I think the people that are in administration--there , "4-et,11tk ministration--aM~we could get in visory position are five of us in adsome kind of superI: In schools? W: In schools or in business or in factories> or anywhere, I think. I: And would yourintention be to remain here in the Choctaw area? W: My-..intentions yes, I liked after I found out about personnel management, I think I really like that better than the other areas. I: Are your children in this school here? W: They're too young to go to school yet. I: I see. And what do they do while you' re out in the big W: world working? -the. They' re in J\ day-care center that they have provided for us here at the Methodist Church. I: Oh. W: And they keep them there all day until I go and pick them up.

PAGE 9

MISS CHOC 5A 9 I: Are you a Methodist? W: No, I haven't gone to a church at all. I: I see. Do you know of any ceremonies the Choctaws have that pre-date Christianity? You know, traditional Indian ? W: I have gone to a couple of wedding ceremonies, Choctaw wedding ceremonies. And I think in my community, Bogue Chitto; they do that quite a lot. I: Would you mind describing a Choctaw wedding ceremony? What's that like? This is non-Christian, you're saying. W: Non-Christian, yeah, it doesn't have anything to do with church. ' I: Well, what happens? Is that something you can tell? W: Yes. If the family invites you to the wedding, you would have to bring them some food like beans or something like that in half-gallon cans. And you'd also have to bring the men would have to bring a bag of biscuits, a bag of sweet biscuits. I don't know if it's cookies or what they call it but it's sweet. And they have a ribbon around the bag. It's usually a flour-bag that they put it in and filtey put the name on there, and the women bring the buckets and the men bring the biscuitsJ__into the home. And they kill they sometimes kill a hog and they cook hominy on the outside pots. And the family of the woman, they all go way off somewhere and -f/lif<1 J

PAGE 10

. .... " ---------MISS CHOC SA 10 talk for a long time. And the family of the man go way off ertanother road and talk for a long time. And then the man that is in charge of the wedding ceremony will start talking and say that this family are gonna unite with this family, and say something like _ that and they'll be start coming, walking toward the house and this family over here will start bringing them in. They'll hold them 1 -by the elbow and then bring them in. And they have a chair outside in front of the house, two chairs. And they sit the woman in one chair and they sit the man in the other chair. And the man that's in_charge will say something, you know--I don't remember what they say. I: No, that doesn't matter. W: And then they'll tell them to stand up. They stand up, they move the chair back over a lrifl-e. +uvfft-ev and they can sit down again. They sit down and this time (L they say the family of the man come and shake hands or )) welcome the bride to the family. So they come over and they give her either ribbons or handkerchiefs or some sot,t of thing like that to her. They lay it on top of her head. She will have a handkerchief--not~handkerchief but a scart-on her head. They'll be wearing the Choctaw dress and the men will be wearing the Choe{ l taw shirt. And then the man in charge will say the z,~ "-H'-~ \rux.~ familyf\'ill come and welcome h h f J) t e man tot eir ami y. tv So they come over there and all they do is shake hands. I\ I

PAGE 11

MISS CHOC 5A 11 And while they're doing this, the wom~ that's cookingl, ~u have collected the biscuits and the beans or whatever the people that were invited brought to eat, they'll be laying out the sacks of flour or whatever the biscuits came out of and they'll be laying out the cans. And $ after they have collected the ribbo~and the scarfs and the handkerchiefs and things that the bride got, they will go back~ and they will lay them on top of the bags and on top of the cans. And whoever the cans and the bags belong to, whoever were invited, they will go back the~e and they will pick up the cans and they will keep the handkerchief or the ribbon or whatever they got on top of their cans. I: Is that considered in white society a legal marriage? W: Yes. I: Is it registered? W: No, it's not registered but it's legal. I: But it's considered legal so the W: In the Choctaw tribe it was a long time ago. I: Well, how about the white society? I mean does this count? Somebody I was talking to said that, you know, a connnon-law marriage and if one person dies the children are not entitled to various things. W: Yes, that's true. But the younger ones now, when they get married, they will just go ahead and get the license and everything, but they still want to go through the ceremony

PAGE 12

MISS CHOC 5A the way the Choctaws used to a long time ago. I: So that's pretty common. W: So that's the way they do it now. I: What about divorce? It used to be said in some Indian ' 'V'societies,~ Creek society, it was really quite:easy. 7 What do you know about~~-l: . 12 W: My grandfather told me that a long time ago if they just didn't want to live together anymore that they just sep arated. Just like white societies do when they separate. They just separate and don't live together anymore. I: What about it now? W: Now they have to get a legal divorce. I: Go through the standard procedure. W: Uh-huh [affirmative]. I: Well now, you spoke about this being almost a marriage of two families. And is that what it really amounts to? W: Yes, I think so. I: Well, do the families adhere together pretty closely? For instance, did you and your husband's family and vice versa? W: Um-hnnn [affirmative]. My husband we didn't go through the ceremony, but my husband you know, a long time ago they said the husband would have to bring in a hog, and the other family would have to : party and have dinner and everything like that. So that's what my husband did, and his parents and family made up a . big dinner and everything like that, and he provided the hog and they killed it and cooked the hog and everything like that.

PAGE 13

MISS CHOC 5A 13 I: afc-e.-r Well, did you there ,1:=ta 1 .;s0 to remain l.meari, what I'm trying to get a&,_is the relationship of a bride with her husband's parents closeJ__ and the rest of the family? W: Yes, yes. I: Remains so? W: Um-hmm [affirmative]. I: And vice versa. W: Yes. I: Well, with regard to women in the Choctaw society: I W : I: don't know much about Choctaw : society, but in the Florida Indians, the women were always quite aloof from other than their own men and would remain so. What is your experience now? With Choctaws. What do you mean by aloof? Sticking to their husbands ? ;7 Well, all I meanl)the Seminole women--except the very young ones that have been educated in the white society--talk very reluctantly with the white man. They still will. W: Oh, yes. That's the way it used to be a long time ago. I can still remember my grandparents, and they were that way. And, you know, when they walked in town, the woman would always walk behind her husband. I: Do you remember this, or ? W: Yes, I remember it. I: Is trrat so any longer? W: No, it's not so any longer. The younger women just walk side , , by side by their husbands. ' ,

PAGE 14

MISS CHOC 5A 14 I: How's that come about? Have you got any idea? W: I think the younger people had decidedAthe man is not going to have so much say-so in the family. The women and the men will be equally when they're married. I: You said you inquired of some of your relatives about clans. W: Yes, I did. I asked my grandparents about that, and my grandfather said he doesn't remember--his last name was 7.huo/Slln--but he doesn't remember ti, any clans. I: I'm surprised at that. It's still active. I don't know ;,ufttt" how vital, but all the Florida Indians know/clan they're in, and there is some respect paid to it in marriage. Well, how did how is descent traced among Choctawsthrough the woman's side of the family or the man's? Do you know? W: I would think I: In the Creek culture it went through the woman's. W: I think it would be through the woman ~ , :,. I: And you know, if there was a chieftainship hereditary, it passed through the woman's side . instead of through the ::. ~ man's. W: Um-hmm. I: Is that the way it was as far as you know? W: I think it was., the way he sp9ke about ~ it. Because he said we didn't get our last names he told me that the names they used to have, they only had one name. They

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MISS CHOC 5A 15 never did have a last name, the Choctaws didn't. But the white people, when they would go to the store or something, they said you have to have a last name. So they gave them such-and-such a last name and that's how they started having last names. And my grandfather said that's how come they 'J 3vt/:.t k..the name Thompson, the last name. I: Um-hmm. W: And this was pretty interesting to me. My cousin and I were referring back to our history because we wanted to know some things about how we got the name Thompson, how we got my last namer Henry, and things like this. '\~~aid it's because the white man gave us the last name. In the beginning ; we / only had one name. I: Is your grandfather that you're talking about still living? W: He is still living. I: Do you occasionally talk to him W: Yes, I do. I: about the Choctaw past? W: He is one of the ~ p~rsons I personally would like to interview. I: Besides the clan thing, what else have you questioned him about? W: I've asked him about the names that we have--these towns like Philadelphia, ko~c./ll:5}(0 , and MA t,ln.,. of QltVV\.O.UteS and what they stand for and things like that.

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MISS CHOC 5A 16 I: Of course, the Philadelphia and Kosciusko weren't Indian, I don't think. They're some other name. W: Well, my grandI: What did he say? W: He said there was a trading post in the town of Philadelphia where it is now, and the Indians would come there and they would trade. And the white men would ask the Indians, "What do you call this when you come to the store?" And the Choctaws said, fh: Lk, l /rvo ilr,, 2 J~ ,, fl1, tf..itQ f,,cu#.o2k, { . I ,1 . . // j) . { and that means Milky Way. ~0 ; c :t ;-cf means Ifs tar,'" 1,i)D lla:JP,Llw and kept on changing to Kosciusko. I: Any other names around here that he spoke of? W: Uh, Shuqualak.

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MISS CHOC 5A 17 I: Well, that's plainly Indian. W: Shuqualak, he said that is I asked him if it's Sku_ ~//a.it_ ____ --the way he pronounces it. He says rt 's Sit~ I r,, J~ I I t ;t and that stands for beads. And he said that's where the Indians used to go to get beads, to make their bead(,,tu\ , work and things and that's how come the whites there_. then again c,hanged kept on changing Siu /,-,: /e1.... , ~u&,cf kd.,, to Sh~ualak. I: Have you had particular definable problems in learning Choctaw? W: Oh, yes. Uh I: I mean specific. Could you pinpoint why you have any dif ficulty? What is the problem, vocabulary or pronunciation or word order or what? W: Pronunciation. Pronunciation. I: I see. Did you ever have a course in formal English grammar? W: Formal English grammar ? I: Well, you know what I mean. Talk about verbs, nouns, adjectives W: Um-hmm . ~lOlLIL;, Q,o..}.. [affirmative]. I: Are those terms all meaningful to you 1 new-, -tire' verbs and stuff? W: Yes, they are. I: Well, could you tell me, for instance, how does Choctaw differ? The action words, the verbs--is there a different

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MISS CHOC 5A 18 usage? Is therea different way they're applied? W: First of all, when we say something in English, we turn around and we say it in Choctaw, we say it backwards. I: Yes. I was told that by somebody else. You put the action word first, don't you? W: Yes, most of the time. I: Could you illustrate that? I mean by telling me some thing in English and then telling me the same thing in Choctaw? W: Uh, let me see I: I don't understand Choctaw, naturally, but W: "Let's run to the door." And in Choctaw would say, I: And if you literally translated that, what would you have said? W: It would say, "run " No, excuse me. Let me say that again. b0fu/fi ok~t.J t'S~t o./_h~k:;~~ said, "let's 0 run ... run " I: You really can't literally translate it, can you? W: No, I can't. I: I think . in general you can't do it. I've had other people that tried the language and say the same thing. W: Most of the Indians, the older ones, think in Choctaw I: Yes. wo,Jl..-d W: and then they MB have to transfer it to English before they will speak back to you. I: And of course, you go the other way around.

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MISS CHOC SA W: Yeah, I go the other way around. I: You think you're gonna ever get to the place where you think in Choctaw? 19 W: I don't think I ever will. Of course I think that's one way one reason why some of the children are slow at learning English and learning things in school. I: Well, how do you get to practice Choctaw? a,,i{ W: Well, I was raised up 1 ~fter we crune back from Ohioi my parents were divorced, and I was raised by my grandparents. And also, I wasn't accepted in the Indian school. I . was accepted by the principal and the teachers but I: Down at Bogue Chitto. W: Um-hmm, down at Bogue Chitto. But I wasn't accepted by the students because I couldn't speak any Choctaw and because I made good grades in school. And I really wanted to have some friends, so I started ! tried, I really tried to learn some Choctaw and I did by my grand parents. Even though they wotild laugh at me I still kept on trying, and I finally accomplished a little bit. Even now, some of the people still don't understand me when I say something in Choctaw, but and they will laugh at me too, but I~tell'em back in English--if they knew English--but I'll try to illustrate what I'm talking about. I: And so you talk it just as much as you can. W: Um-hmm [affirmative]. My children, my little girl, she talks Choctaw also now. She's two years old.

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MISS CHOC 5A 20 I: Where'd she pick it up, from you? W: From my family and from my mother-in-law and her family. And she speaks pretty good, and she also knows English. She can say this in Choctaw, then she turns around and~ s _ ay it in English. So I. think that is real good for ::c U)f'lff ,7f my girl. A both11.mY kids to know English and Choctaw. I: Are you familiar with the term "generation gap"? W: Yes. I: Does that exist in Choctaw society? W r:.-[ Yes I U 1. . ) With . other families, I don't know, but with my grandparents I had experienced it a lot. We never got along like when I was at a dating age and if I wanted to go out, they would not allow us to go out. Or anything like that. They wouldn't understand. My grandfather told me that if you go with one man, go out on a date one time, that you were meant to marry that man. And to me, I thought you could go out with different men and you would finally find the man that you wanted to marry or something like that. Well, they had the idea that this was the way it was supposed to be--when you go out with one man, that's the man that you're supposed to marry. And before that, my grandfather said they _ used to pick out what family you're supposed to be married to. I: That might possibl~ have been clan affairs W: Yeah.

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---------------------------------------MISS CHOC 5A 21 I: but I don't know. Well, the role of women, apparently, in Choctaw society is changing W: Yes. I: pretty sharply. Where does it finally end up, in your opinion? I think the young people realize that they need to keep their traditions. Some of the cultural things that we have here--we 're proud of it! So, this is one reason why we're trying to teach our own children to speak Choctaw~ to learn how to do crafts and things like tha~ Choctaws have done a long time ago, and this is another way of finding out about Choctaw history--by our grandparents, what stories our grandparents has told us we will in turn tell our children. I: Do you know anything much about Choctaw history? Have you ever had occasion to read any history of the Choctaws or anything? W: I've read quite a few pamphlets, but they didn't mean much to me because I didn't I wasn't you know, you don't get involved in something you don't unless I was assigned to doing that sort of thing , I would really try to d into it and see what it was about. But most . of what I know iS by my grandfather. I: Is there any library around here where you would have access to, uh

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MISS CHOC SA 22 W: I: W: I: W: 0 Chocta~ history? 0 :; -; history? Yeah Where would you go if you wanted to read something? The library we have here at the high school. They have fAct them locked up, but we can goAthere and read some of the books that they have that the missionaries a long time ago who came here had something to do with the Indian people--had wrote stories about, or some r,.)vot~ history about things there I: Well, you' re proud of the Indian traditio~ you say? And what is it specifically you're proud of? I mean, what do you know about the Indian tradition? I'~ just like to hear. What is it? W: I'm proud that we still have our dances, the Indian dances. And I'm proud to know that we still we're now realizing that we exist and we can accomplish something if we really try hard. And we wyU,are. ';)our tribal councilmen J ~e are accomplishing something. I: What is it you're accomplishing? W: I think some people don't I: I'm just asking, you know, because this all--how people think about their society and so on--has to do with the culture. W: I think we need to know more education, more Indian history. t And the students realize this and I think they're any//u1J

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MISS CHOC 5A 23 that comes up with Indians, we always want to know about it--on TV or in the newspaper or something like that, we always want to know what the other Indians are doing. And I'm glad that, for one thing, that the Choctaws are peace ~ loving Indians, that I: Well, is it so that they always were? W: I don't believe so. My grandfather told me a story tim~ere we lived, Bogue Chitto, there was a line between Kemper County and Neshoba County. There was a No, one line there, and the Choctaws this might have been part of a clan)al~o. Btit the Choctaws in Bogue Chitto were not supposed to go over the line where the other part of the Choctaws were 1 on Kemper County. Because of some reason I don't remember, I don't recall that. But he said~if our Indians caught some of their tribe--which were still Choctaws but they were called something else probably, probably a clan name or something--if they .e-C::: a .q -, ss> . ~ :::g::.:h::u:n ~:r k::a:h:::Y ::: 1 :o:::• s::dp::::h b:::C ~ \o~~ll, . They would punish them ser"ft t'mean, really to niake them remember not to come back. Well, the reason was that they didn't want our people to be going over their line to hunt for deer and rabbits and :'3%" If vcl'::> and things, and also they had different conflicts, you know, they fought about different things. Some were warlike and some weren, t. And some were 4'('8 \: Vb tv \7.2, (A (l,e\;.e. f and others, you know, wanted to be on this side of the

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MISS CHOC SA 24 line and some wanted to be on this side of the line. And I believe that's the way it was. That's the way my grand father told me it was a long time ago. I: Did he ever tell you about any other encounters or con flicts of this type? Did he ever talk about conflicts with the whites? I guess that's before his time, isn't it? W: Yes. If I sit down and really ask him, I think he would tell me some stories that his father or grandfather had told him. I: You'll have a chance to do that under this program. W: Yeah. He's eigh-, I think he's eighty-two years old. I: Is his mind clear? W: Yes. He's still farming. He still makes a garden and everything. I: W: What's he farm on? Reservation land? <)) .,--,,{ Yes, yes. '..J";..l..-i-\ 1 1and. He's been there for almost all of his life. He still lives in the government house that they had built a long time ago, but which they keep ret; pairing~ every year, you know. And my grandmother, she tells me some stories that the ladies used to do a long time ago, and things like that. She says that she remem bers her mother telling her not to look at a 'White man. I: Yes, that's the sort of thing I was referring toa little while ago, about , W: Uh-huh. To never look at a white man because if you do they will come and catch you and take you away, she said.

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MISS CHOC 5A 25 And especially~they used to wear beards a long time ago, .. I suppose ? I: Yes. Wi She said especially one with a beard. Don't ever look at a white man with a beard. I: I wonder what the occasion for that was. Do you know? W: I don't know. Rut I'd like to bring that up and ask her. I: Might have gone back to the Spaniards even. They were bearded. W: Um-hmm. I: Yes, you have lperh9-p.s some very interest, opportunities talking to your grandparents, I would think. W: There are a lot of Indian words that I still can not understand, but maybe somebody can I: Do they know enough English to help you with them? W: Yes. I: Well now, do you live on the reservation somewhere? W: No. I own my own land and my own home. I: Oh. W: Outside of the reservation here. I: How much land do you own? W: I own just one acre of land and a house, a brick home. I: Well, how do you handle an acre of land? Isn't that quite an order for you? W: No. , I have a fence around the house to keep the kids from 0 or 16 out in the street, but it's pretty hard to raise grass on

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MISS CHOC SA 26 the red clay. So, I have mostly red clay on my land, but maybe by next year I'll have it fixed up again. I: Is that something that you and y your husband bought? W: Yes. He lived in that house for about two months W: before he passed on. Why did you elect to move off the reservation? From my reservation? Yeah, and~ live on privately owned land. Well, the tribe would let you lease some land, but we thought the Indians should start owning their owri land again. And that was our reason for buying our land. And the land behind my house is still for sale and if I want to, I can buy it. I: Is it expensive? W: Yes, it is expensive. I: And rising, I suppose. W: Yes. I: In price. W: Um-hmm. I: Well, you will continue, I suppose, to workJas a career. Your object is W: Is to finish college and to I: Oh, you want to go on. W: Uh-huh, to go on and finish college as much as I possibly can, and come back and try to help my people in whatever way I can.

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MISS CHOC 5A 27 I: And with regard to the history, in what way do you think that would help them? W: The younger people now? I: Well, yeah. I don't care. I mean you have spoke of our program as being something that would help them. What would it do for them, do you think? W: I think it would make your own homef, go and out, to even in parents how did this come about, what did they do a long time ago. And you'll find in different communities, everything is dif ferent. I: Of the seven? W: Yes, of the seven connnunities. And even in language, our accents are different. I: That's curious. W: Yes. Conehatta says thing~ we get along with people very well,~ different communities. But there are certain words and certain accents that are quite different and you can tell. -I: I wasn't aware of that. W: And I was glad that you were getting some ferent communities, because then you will tapes from dif -Ht"--7 find outA there are different ways of doing things, that there are different ways that the Indians have done things a long time ago. I: You can't read Choctaw, I suppose. Can you? W: I used to read the Bible in Choctaw, but I don't think I can do that anymore.

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MI;SS CH.QC 5A I: Have you ever seen anything else in Choctaw but the Bible? I mean, is there any is it W: We have a Choctaw dictionary. 28 I: You do? But is there anything else written in Choctaw but the Bible? W: Uh, Mr. Calvin Isaac here made a speech not long ago for v,_,, the Head Star)\ little graduation they had. And he spoke in Choctaw and English and he wrote it up in Choctaw, and he gave me a letter one time--sent me a letter one time. It was all in Choctaw. But I couldn't read part of it. I: Do you know where the written Choctaw language crune from? W: I think it came from the missionaries when they were here. I: Yeah, um-hmm. They I think phonetically, you know. W: Yeah. I: From the way it sounds, put it together. And I believe this is true of all the North American Indians except Sl1.1_ V O.:f t( A _sequai a. is supposed to have put together a written language for the Cherokees -~t:t~(~D~~~a-~v_e_Cl~"LF-'-/.-~~f_e..~_ W: Yeah. I: Have you ever had anything to do with the Oklahoma Choctaws? W: No, I haven't. I: Is there any do any of them come here to go to school that you know of? W: No. We have one person here that teaches, he's a Choctaw from Oklahoma. I haven' t had I haven't seen any as I know of now, I don't know

PAGE 29

----,--~--------------------------------MISS CHOC SA I: Is there any special relationship between the ':. Choctaws in Oklahoma and these here? W: I don't think so. My grandfather was also telling me that he had some relatives in Oklahoma. I: I'm sure he does. Now, I don't mean to embarrass you with the question, but do you know how the Choctaws got split like this, with some in Oklahoma and some here? I mean, what is that story? Do you happen to know anything about it? W: Um, just that some wanted to stay here and they had to , /If o':':, Ile~ hide where the /1 1 -ttlotuC<.J-=(?) ~is, or the 29 /11tvt.LJ0ayC) Cave. They hid there for so many years until some white man found them there and thought that they needed help, because our people were having a hard time of living.A/{Dthey finally set up a reservation, the government did, you know. As I recall, the Indians did own land, but taxation ca.me in and they had to pay tax on their land. And the white men would get the Indians drunk to where they wouldn't pay for their tax. And when they didn't pay -FPY-it, they would put it in the trust fund for the government, or the government just took the hind away from ' them. I: Well, this story, is that the story, that those who remained east of the Mississippi hid in a cave? W: Yes, that's what my grandfather said. I: Is that right? I'm not familiar with the story, but that's

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MISS CHOC 5A 30 a very interesting point. And they just hid there for a while? W: Um-hnnn [affirmative]. You know where the /JJoLLi4R_~-:? I: No, I don't. W: Well, that's where they I: Oh! I've seen it, too. W: You've seen it? I: The tribe's supposed to have originated there, or something. W: Yes, they said that God wanted them to stay, so they stayed there. But when the white man was going to take all the Choctaws to Oklahoma, some of the people that wanted to stay ran back, it's about two miles back and you'll find the )1,1_,r ,{;WW~ If you walk, you know, about two miles back to the \l\l 't/\,LW w Cave. They ran away and they hid, and these other Choctaws wen-i: on to Oklahoma. _ They ran away and hid and that's where they stayed most of the time. It's near water,, the cave I: Yeah, I believe that I visited the mound. I believe the last time we were here in March I was shown that. W: But the cave is a different place from the mound, and the Indians used to run two miles from the white people. I: Where'd you learn that? W: My grandfather. I: And where did the Choctaws originate? Around here? What about their origins? Did your grandfather or anybody else

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MISS CHOC 5A ever tell you? W: Um, he didn't tell me, but I think they originated from somewhere in what county I was thinking of ( I: Around here in Mississippi? W: No, the other side of Bogue Chitto. I: But in this area. W: Um-hmm [affirmative]. I: This is the original seat of the Choctaws. W: I think so. ~, "tS I: Well, turn to another subject ,for a minute. You spoke about the white man getting some of the Choctaws drunk. Among the whites there is always the legend or the statement that~Indians are especially susceptible to alcohol. Do you believe that? W: No, I don't believe all of them are. Maybe a few of them. I: W: I think Indians who do that want to get out their hos tilities, out their emotions and things. But the younger people nowadays, they do like the white society do. Some of them drink occasionally and invite people to come to their house and drink. And they don't go, you know, having wild parties or having fights and things like that, like they see on TV. Around here you don't have any particular liquor problem, would you say? cUw~ Well, I think lrehave a few people who are still that way. That's why we have a

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MISS CHOC 5A 32 I: Of course that's true in any society. W: Yeah alcoholism program we have to try to help these people who are alcoholics. You have a}! . roF 7 ~~ ' ~p:c~fi$_ally addressed to that? U. h-l._ k C City'f-: ( ,, ,. ,-;! t v-P __ ) You have any other serious problems among the young? I mean, has there been any tendency to hard drugs or anything? W: No. Not unless I: How about marijuana? W: No. I: No? Not at all? W: Not unless another tribe would come to this school and vt:.h-, bring it with them and let them experiment with,-let the Choctaw students experiment with them. I: But you've never seen any problem. W: No, not with I: Is there discipline around here? They don't have a special discipline problem in this school? W: The junior high students, I believe. They're the hardest group to get along with. I: Yeah. W: It's because parents are not the older parents are not so much pushing their children into education. They just let them do what they want to. But I don't believe in that myself. I want my kids to have an education, I want -1i1if them to have a good one. So I would think,\ the parents 0-re

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-~ ~ -----------------. MISS CHOC 5A 33 4-1t-tdit's the parent's fault 4their children are not learning . .J if they're not learning anything at all. I: We're getting toward the end of our tape on one side, and we've been running these about one side. And I think probably you and I have talked as long as right now we profitably can, unless k ~ ... •'14 want to ma e.•~ .....,,~ W: No. you have some other comment you .. ,,, I: Why don't you just shut it off?