Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma

The Great Seal of the Choctaw Nation
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Interviewed by Ethel V. Elder, by Waurika, Oklahoma, June 17, 1937

I was born December 25, 1859 in the Choctaw Nation. I am o­ne quarter Choctaw Indian. My father’s name was Tom Cruce; he was born in Virginia. My mother’s name was Katherine Rutledge; she was born in the Choctaw Nation. She died March 1915 and is buried at Jacks. My mother was a Choctaw Indian. About fifty-six years ago I was married to Louis Phillip Bousman at Taxcosa, Texas. We came to Oklahoma in the early days and settled close to a little town called Fleetwood. We had four children born to us and two of the girls are married, o­ne living close to us and the other living in the house with me. My husband was Deputy United States Marshal and Ranger, when we came to Oklahoma. We did some farming and cattle raising, but not very much as he was away from home a great deal of the time. We raised lots of watermelons, peas, hogs, some cattle, corn for our own use, geese, chickens, and some turkeys, collards, cabbage and white potatoes. Then we gathered the potato crop they were gathered like we gather peanuts today; all were left o­n the bush until we were ready to use them.

CLOTHES

We made all our moccasins out of very soft leather; we beaded them and all the work was done by hand. All our clothes were made out of deer hides and for thread after the deer was shot we would rip the legs open and take the sinews out and rip them into threads and after they were dried and seasoned, they were ready for use. We could not tear them apart after they were made as this thread is so very strong.

MEDICINES

We used the bark and leaves from different kinds of trees for various ailments, also the berries from the sumac tree and all kinds of wild roots.

DYES AND PAINTS

Our dyes and paints were made from the different kinds of clay and some were made from the wild berries and some of the leaves were used sometimes.

BASKETS AND POTTERY

There was a certain kind of weeds and a certain kind of clay that we would make all our baskets and pottery out of; it would take it a long time to dry so that we could use it without cracking. We also would make our pots, to cook in over the fireplace out of clay.

BUCKETS AND CHURNS

Our buckets and churns were made out of hickory; we used the best part of the large cedar trees; after a very large hickory tree was cut down, we cut our churns and buckets and worked hard to get them very smooth and then when they were seasoned just right, we put them together with brass hoops and they would last a long time.

WASH TUBS AND BOARDS

Our tubs were made out of hickory, too, and we would have the largest trees cut down to make the wash tubs our of; we would hollow the trees out as deep as we wanted them and then cut them down as smooth as we could, sometimes we made two tubs out of the same log with just a division between.

SAD IRONS

When we wanted to use an run, we called it a sad iron. We would put what we called a trivet over the coals in the fire place to heat the irons and it would keep the irons from getting smutty.

COOK SHACKS

When the Indians began to live in the houses they would not have the rooms joined together; they had the rooms with the beds in them all off away from the cook shack and after everybody was up in the morning the rooms were cleaned and the beds were all made up and then the rooms were closed until time to go back to bed at night and if anybody wanted to lie down he would get his blanket and go out under a tree or in the shade of the house. The cook shack was used all day to cook in; we could eat and stay there all day if we wanted to and this room was away from the rest of the rooms quite a distance. We did all our cooking over the fireplace with clay pots and kettles made from clay and weeds, or mud and weeds. The Indians never used salt o­n anything they eat. Sometimes they would want to cook their meats differently so they would get a long stick and sharpen the end and hold the meat over the fire and cook it that way until it was about done then they would have a feast.

CHURCH AND SCHOOLS

We would go to church o­nce a month when the preacher came around to hold services; we called him the Circuit riding preacher. If any couple wanted to get married they always had to wait until he came around. Then in the week time we would have school and the white children would go half day and the Indian children would go half day. When the teacher would call o­n any o the Indian children to answer a question, she never could get them to say o­ne word, not even make a grunt, they always looked like they were scared to move, so the teacher never did know whether they were learning anything or not. Oxen were used to do all to the plowing and heavy work and hauling up the large logs when we wanted to make anything; if we wanted to go any great distance we would ride in the ox cart or wagon, whichever was hitched up. Our houses had dirt floors mostly; we had to keep them swept clean all the time. If we wanted a floor in any room they would cut down a pine or cypress tree, cut the logs the length needed and then saw them half in two long ways and turn the sawed side up and then use flint rock to smooth logs off or make up a sand mixture of some kind and work hard until the floors were white and smooth; we called them puncheon floors.

People

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Chiefs

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Famous Choctaws

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Original Enrollees

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