Bohanan, Emiziah (2)
I was born in Eagle County, Choctaw Nation on July 1st, 1882, now McCurtain County, Oklahoma. My father’s name was Amos Bohanan, and my mother’s name was Liatte Bohanan. I don’t know just where they were born, but I think they were born in Eagle County. There was no village or town, it was out there in the wilderness, so I say it was in Eagle County, where we lived, and I as born. My grandfather’s name was Tushkahaya and he came from Mississippi and located in this county. He and my grandmother lived there and they both died there. I don’t know whether my grandfather was in the Civil War or not, and I don’t think that my father was in this war.
There were a good many Indians joined the army, I understand, with the southern soldiers, and fought some battles with the southern soldiers. The only thing I can tell is what I heard after I was grown. The older people would sit around and talk about what hard times they had while in the service of the army. The most of the Indians didn’t have anything when they joined the army and they said that they had a hard time getting by. They would go without little to eat for several days, they did not have sufficient clothes to keep them warm when it turned cold on them, they had to ride horses and could not take but one quilt with them and they sure suffered from cold. They would build up a big campfire and sit up by the fire all night, and start riding the next morning without a bite to eat, and maybe ride for several days that way. I never did hear them say who their commander was. They might have said who it was, if they did, I don’t remember it. They sure could tell it awful scary to the children. I don’t know whether they were telling the truth to us or not
. During the war several families moved to Eagle County. They said that they were a bunch of refugees running from the soldiers. They told that the soldiers would take anything they saw and wanted. They would kill cattle and they would get horses they saw and wanted. In fact they were just mean and the Indians that lived up north of us (where the soldiers were mostly) moved from there and located somewhere or they would go out into the mountains and stay there. Some of them built log houses and lived there until the war was over. We were not bothered with the soldiers, for when they joined the army they went north. They would not come back for a long while. They would come and visit the family and go back.
We lived in a log house with a dirt floor. We could not buy any lumber at that time, but after several years the sawmills came in there and began to cut the pine, then we could get some lumber and floor our log houses. There were no houses built out of lumber then, it was all log houses chinked and daubed with mud. These were warm in the winter and cool in the summer.
During the war they told of having war dances. This war dance was pulled off when some young braves had joined the army and were ready to take off, then they would have this dance for them. Then they had scalp dances. When a scalp of an enemy would be sent back home, or brought home by some Indian soldier, they would all get together and have one of those dances. They would build up a big fire and hang the scalp up where they could see it and they would dance around the fire and the scalp. They would dance all night. After the war the Indians did not have any more war dances. They quit dancing about that time and have never danced any more.
After I was big enough to remember things, we had a hard time in getting anything to eat, such as flour, sugar and coffee and other groceries. We were not the only ones who got our groceries from Arkansas. The neighbors around us got their groceries from there. They would all get together and several wagons would go. They would be gone for several days, bringing what we needed for a while, then they would go again.
We lived on a farm and raised some corn. All the corn we needed for our bread, for we did not feed corn to our ponies, for there was plenty of grass they could live on during the winter without being fed corn. We needed the corn for our bread and cold not afford to feed our corn to the ponies. Mother used to make meal out of corn. She would put the corn in a mortar that she had, this mortar being made out of a post oak block, square on both ends, and which stood on one end. The other had a bowl in it. This bowl was made by burning it with coals of fire, about 6 or 7 inches deep so that it would hold right smart of corn.” She would put the corn in the bowl and beat until she made meal out of corn. She would go out somewhere and dig up some roots, which she called in Choctaw language, “Lokchok-Ahi”. In English it would be called mud potatoes. She cooked it by boiling it and it was just as good as Irish potatoes are now. At that time we had no Irish potatoes. In fact, did not know that there was such a thing as Irish potatoes out where I lived, so those mud potatoes answered the same purpose. She then would get another root, which she called it “Kantak”. I don’t know what it would be called in English. The vine of this root looked like a bamboo vine. It had stickers on it like bamboo briar. This root had a big head and she would peel the outside of this root and slice the inside, put it on the housetop and let it dry; then she would beat it like she would corn. It took some time to do this. It would finally look like flour. She called it flour. When it was baked, it eats nearly like flour today. It was good, too.
We had a hard living in those days. We raised some stock but could not sell them for there was no market for them, and every Indian had stock, they could not sell them either. It was not worth anything. We could not get enough to buy a good sack of flour out of them if we sold. It was not like today for the stock brings a good price now, but us Indians don’t have any to sell.
My mother had a spinning wheel and weaver. She used to make our clothes, such as shirts, pants, socks and mittens. She made them out of cotton, then she would get something and dye the clothes she made, but I don’t know what she used. When she would get them dyed, they looked like store bought clothes. She used to make and sell them to Indians who wanted to buy them. I do not know what she got for them, but I know she did not get much for them. No money at all, for the Indians did not have any money at all in those days.
I saw one Indian ball game; it was between Wade County and Gaines County. They did not have but very little fight during the game; they had a pretty good game; there was some fighting done but it did not amount to much; nobody killed, which made it a pretty good game.
I did not attend school but very little, and I am unable to speak, read or write but very little English. However I can read and write my own language, just about as well as any Indian in my class. I am about average in my own language, of course there are some Indians that are pretty well educated in English who can't read nor write their own language, so I think that I am about average.
I am a full blood Indian. I don’t remember what clan I belong to. I think I am a six clan which consists of full bloods. I am an Indian preacher, I am a member of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church and of course preach to the Indians all together, because I don’t understand English, and couldn’t preach English. I am now living about 12 miles west of Antlers, Oklahoma.