By Maddie W., Kelsey, Macy, and Emily October, 2012
Hunting and harvesting their food is one of the many pieces of their cultures. From some of the food the woman gathered, they were able to make corn bread, too.
The Choctaw Indian tribe of the Southeast lived in chickee huts. These homes were made of wood poles (to hold up the roof), a flat platform raised above the ground, and they did not have walls. This home was great because it held the people off of the swampy ground.
The Choctaw people call themselves Chahta. Chahta was a legendary leader of this nation. The word also means “the people.”
Woman often sewed and stitched their families clothes and shoes out of animal skins. Deer skins were used as pant like leggings to protect their legs from the sharp grasses of the swamp.
The Choctaw who remain in Mississippi tell this story as an explanation of how they came to the land where they live now and of how Naniah Waiya Mound came to be. Two brothers, Chata and Chicksah led the original people from a land in the far west that had ceased to prosper. The people traveled for a long time, guided by a magical pole. Each night, when the people stopped to camp, the pole was placed in the ground and in the morning the people would travel in the direction in which the pole leaned. After traveling for an extremely long time, they finally came to a place where the pole remained upright. In this place, they laid to rest the bones of their ancestors, which they had carried in buffalo sacks from the original land in the west. The mound grew out of that great burial. After the burial, the brothers discovered that the land could not support all the people. Chicksah took half the people and departed to the North and eventually became the Chickasaw tribe. Chatah and the others remained near the mound and are now known as the Choctaw.
Most Choctaw people speak English today. Some people, especially elders, also speak their native Choctaw language. Choctaw is a rhythmic language that is nearly identical to Chicasaw. Speakers of the two languages can understand each other without much difficulty. If you'd like to know a few easy Choctaw words, "halito" (pronounced hah-lih-toh) is a friendly greeting, and "yakoke" (pronounced yah-koh- keh) means 'thank you.’ ofi'issobayanashissi'