Tag Archive: Achafa Chito

Aug 01

Stories from My Grandfather—The Great Flood (Part 3)

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 biskinikyellow-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.


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Jul 26

Stories from my Grandfather—The Great Flood (Part 2)

WHAT’S PLAYING: Brandi CarlileRaise Hell

(Continued from Part 1)

Suddenly, a fearful crash of thunder, louder than ever heard before, shook the earth, and a glimmering light appeared far away to the north. At first, the people were glad, thinking the light heralded the return of the Sun. Then they realized it was the gleam of great waters advancing in wave after wave. The Choctaw fled before the onslaught, wailing “Oka Falamah!” —the returned waters—as the waves rushed down upon the land of the Choctaw, destroying everything in its path.




Oklatibishi heard the wailing and the roar of the returning waters from his house on the raft. Remembering the words of Achafa Chito, he rushed to the door and saw the hunters who had laughed at him trying to clamber up the side of the mountain to reach his raft, but the angry waters swept them away. Soon Oklatibishi’s raft floated upon a sea that continued to rise for many days. He wept as he saw the bodies of his people floating upon the face of the waters. After several days, even the dead disappeared beneath the waves, and the water became so deep that he could not make out the tops of the tallest trees.


As the weeks passed, Oklatibishi’s supply of corn, nuts and dried meats dwindled. He began sending one of the gray doves out each day to fly about and see if it could spot land. And at darkness each night, the dove returned to the raft.



One morning, Oklatibishi saw a huge, black bird and asked it if land was near. The bird circled several times and finally answered with a sullen croaking screech before it flew away and did not appear again. This was how Oklatibishi came to know that evil would still exist even upon the earth cleaned by the returning waters.


The next morning, he sent forth the gray dove forth and a few hours later, she returned and deposited several blades of grass into his hand, indicating that land was not far away. A strong wind arose and carried the weary warrior to the shores of a beautiful island. The island was green, well supplied with fresh water and occupied by animals enough of all types to repopulate the world and furnish Oklatibishi with meat for his cooking pot. He found a house already built for him, with a store of nuts, dried fruits, corn, and dried meat hanging inside. There was even a well-tended garden with vegetables beginning to ripen in the light of the Sun.


For several days, Oklatibishi was content, but soon he began to realize that something was missing from his life. Walking in the woodlands, he noticed that each of the animals had a mate, but he had none. How could the race of man survive if there were no mate for the last man left after the ebbing of the returned waters?



As Oklatibishi turned his steps back toward his house, he became aware of a new sound in the forest. It was the voice of a woman singing. He hastened his steps toward home, and there washing his clothing and preparing him a supper was the most beautiful young woman that Oklatibishi had ever seen. Achafa Chito had turned the white dove into a beautiful maiden to be his mate. That is why, until this day, when a man is especially pleased with his lovely wife, he will call her “His little dove” as an extra special sign of his love for her and his gratitude to Achafa Chito for allowing him to have her as a mate.


(Concluded in Part 3 next week!)



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Permanent link to this article: http://www.jacquitalbot.com/2012/07/stories-from-my-grandfather-the-great-flood-part-2/