WHAT’S PLAYING: Ima Robot “Greenback Boogie”
(Continued from Part 2)
When Achafa Chito—the Great Spirit—covered the world in a massive flood, even the birds were swept from the sky by the winds or battered down by pouring rains. But three birds managed to survive the Oka Falamah—returned waters. These were the fitukhak—yellow hammer, the bakbak—redheaded woodpecker, and the biskinik—yellow-bellied sapsucker.
Fighting the wind and rain, these birds flew as high as they could and, when they became too tired to fly, lit upside down upon the sky, digging in their claws to hang on. The mighty waves dashed against their tail feathers as they sat on the sky. This accounts for the distinctive scissortail appearance of the fitukhak, bakbak, and biskinik.
So impressed was Achafa Chito by this display of cleverness, that he blessed the birds and appointed them guardians over the descendants of Oklatibishi, the okla—people. Thereafter, these birds, especially biskinik, appeared in Choctaw villages on the eve of great events to raise the spirits of the people.
In times of war, the biskinik accompanied the war parties or warned the warriors of approaching enemies by flitting about their camp or tapping upon trees in the night. The tiny yellow crested birds would also lead hunters to the best hunting areas and help the huntsmen’s arrows fly straight and true. In many ways did these birds prove their love and friendship to the Choctaw.
And so we cherish them as the remembered gift of the Great Spirit in the fateful days of the mighty returned waters.