All Hail the Chief: Chief Pushmataha
Published August 9, 2022
By Chief Gary Batton
I hope you all are doing well! I wanted to introduce a new series to you: All Hail the Chief.
From time to time, I’ll highlight a Choctaw Chief so that others may learn about some of our great cultural leaders. First up, Chief Pushmataha!
Chief Pushmataha served as Chief of the Okla Hannali, “Six Towns”, in the Southern District of the Choctaw Nation in Mississippi from 1800 – 1824.
He was born in 1764 and little is known of his ancestry or early youth, but his name comes from the Choctaw phrase “Apushi Immvt Taha,” meaning childhood is finished to him. He is quoted as saying “Pushmataha has no ancestors; the sun was his father, the moon, his mother. A mighty storm swept the Earth; midst the roar of thunder, the lightning split a mighty oak and Pushmataha stepped forth a full-fledged warrior.”
Chief Pushmataha was well known as a skillful warrior and a wise leader. He had established a reputation as an eloquent speaker and successful negotiator by 1800, able to speak four languages. He guided Choctaw Nation to being an ally of the United States in the War of 1812, and was commissioned as a brigadier General, leading a battalion of Choctaw warriors in multiple engagements. When the 1820 Treaty of Doak’s Stand was being negotiated, Chief Pushmataha insisted that a large sum be set aside as a perpetual school fund for the education of Choctaw youth.
In 1824, Chief Pushmataha went to Washington on business for the Choctaws. While there, he became ill and died December 24, 1824. He was granted full military honors and is buried in the Congressional Cemetery in Washington, D.C.
Yakoke and God bless!