Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma

The Great Seal of the Choctaw Nation
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I was born in January, 1874, near what is now Nashoba, Oklahoma, o n Little River. My father’s name was Lumey Choate, and my mother’s name was Elizabeth Choate. My father was raised near Nashoba but my mother was raised near Mount Zion Church which is in McCurtain County. My father was in the Civil War but I don’t know in what company he was. He said that the Indian soldiers had a hard time getting by; they would go for several days without a bite to eat except what they could get o n the road. They would kill anything they saw o n the road, for they were hungry; and not o nly that but they did not have sufficient bedding to keep them warm into eh night. They nearly froze when it turned cold o n them during the night. They had to build a big fire and sit around it all night. Sometimes they had to ride without a bite to eat and several of them did freeze during the night for they did not have bedding to keep them warm. Father served all through the war and when the war was over he came home. He was not married then but after he came home he went to Mount Zion and married my mother and brought her to Nashoba, where he made his home. I don’t know my grandfather nor my grandmother, but I have been told that they came from Mississippi, I think that they located some where in Eagle County when they first came to this country; then they moved to what is now Nashoba, at that time it was called Nashoba County by the Choctaws. They lived there until they died and were buried there, but as to where they were buried in Nashoba County I don’t know. We traded at Fort Smith; my father and several other Indians would make up a wagon train and start to Fort Smith. It would take them a long time to get back for they had to go slow because the roads were bad then adn the mountains were high and no roads through them hardly so it took them a good while to get back. Their teams were oxen so they could not go very fast; they would bring back groceries which would last us a good while; we had to be saving with our flour and coffee an the like for it was too far to go for them; we had flour bread and coffee o nly Sunday mornings. Several years after that a white man came and put up a store in the neighborhood where we did our trading. This man ran the store for a good many years there and finally died there and was buried there. I don’t remember his name now but he was a good white man, for at that time there were few white people into eh country and what was there were all criminals and law breakers.

We had a small farm where we raised corn and garden vegetables. We used to make all we could use; we Indians did not know how to can vegetables so we did not have canned stuff for the winter use. We had cattle, hogs and some ponies o n the farm. We did not need a big farm we could raise enough corn for or bread and that was about all we needed corn for, for we did not feed our stock any corn; there were plenty of grass and cane o n the creeks for their winter feed. Cattle would stay fat all winter adn the hogs got fat o n the acorns. We used to have a big acorn crop every year, so there was no use in having a big farm at that time. The bread we had then was corn bread made by beating it in a mortar; and mother used to make several kinds of corn bread and hominy for us to eat. My father never did hold any public office under the Choctaw Government, but did serve o n several juries in the Choctaw Courts; the Choctaw court was held at Alikehi, in Nashoba County. The District was called Apakashanabbee District, and the court was a district court. They held the court o nce a year and it would last about thirty days. The jurors would be paid $2.00 per day in scrip; Father would stay until after the court adjourned and get his scrip for his services then he would sell this scrip for about half the amount, losing about half of it by selling it. There used to be some o ne there who would buy this scrip then he would hold it for some time and he would get his money out for the scrip then he would hold it for some time and he would get his money out for the scrip in full in cash. I served as Deputy Sheriff in this county, but it was after statehood; for several years prior to that time I never was anything except a farmer. We lived in log houses when I was a boy; in fact, all the Indians lived in log houses, some of them would have split logs for flooring and some of them would have a dirt floor. These log houses would have o ne door and no windows, while some would cut a hole in the wall and make a window and the shutter would be made out of some split saplings. I never went to school and of course, I understand but very little English, and can’t read or write in English, but can read and write in my own language. I have lived among my tribe of Indians all my life; my parents were all Choctaw Indians. We never did have any trouble with them. I never played Indian ball games but I have seen them played by other Indians. It seemed to be a rough game, that is, it looked that way to me. I never saw the Indian dance - the Scalp dance or the War dance; I have never seen them dance but it was not the war nor the scalp dances for they tell me that they had those dances during the war.

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