Tag Archive: Choctaw Mythology

Aug 26

Stories from my Grandfather – The Tale of the Wind Horse (Part 1) as told by Tipi Pinti

WHAT’S PLAYING: Fun. feat. Janelle Monáe “We Are Young”

 

Once upon a time, when Day and Night were still deciding who comes first, there lived a horse—the fastest and gentlest of all Indian ponies—called Wind Horse, and his kind will never be seen in the world again.

The story begins this way:

 

 

One day, when Wind Horse was feeling good from being free, he heard a cry for help. He ran to the edge of the forest and found a little boy who had gotten his foot caught in a bear trap. The child had managed to free himself but could not move, for the trap had crushed his foot. The Boy, who had no name, could not believe such a beautiful horse would come to him as a friend. He gave thanks to the Great Spirit and prepared himself for death.

Knowing the wound was fatal, Wind Horse bent to let the boy get on his back, so he could take him to the Sacred Hunting Ground, where he would no longer know pain, fear, or need. The thought of one so young going to the Sacred Hunting Ground made Wind Horse sad, but he did not want the boy to suffer.

 

 

The Boy clung to Wind Horse’s back, the pain in his foot forgotten. All his life he had lived alone, for his parents were dead and no one else wanted him. Riding Wind Horse, he felt whole, as though he had finally found a family. They rode through time out of mind, the trail shifting to reflect the Boy’s life. The Boy saw himself caught in the bear trap, alone and weeping. Then the scenery changed and he saw himself smiling and happy with his parents. Soon, they travelled back to before the boy was born ad he didn’t recognize anything. As his life passed by, the Boy clutched Wind Horse tighter, frightened by what awaited them at their journey’s end.

Wind Horse was the last of a great race of horses who could share the feelings of their riders. He had never allowed anyone to ride him for too long, for once a bond was forged it could not be broken. He knew that if he continued this run, he would never again be free.

 

Stay tuned for Part 2 coming up on Wednesday!

Permanent link to this article: http://www.jacquitalbot.com/2013/08/stories-from-my-grandfather-the-tale-of-the-wind-horse-part-1-as-told-by-tipi-pinti/

Jan 23

The Ever-faithful Lily Wanda

WHAT’S PLAYING: Duffy “Syrup and Honey”

Once upon a time, the Choctaw held a Green Corn Festival to show love and gratitude to the Great Spirit who had given them so much. The Queen of the festival was Lily Wanda, the most beautiful maiden in the village.

When time came for the Chief to speak, he stepped forward and the people fell silent.

“My people,” he said, “The Great Spirit has been good to us. Green Corn Goddess has watched over our corn. Rain God watered it and Father Sun warmed it. We give them thanks. I have long wondered where Father Sun sleeps. Someone must journey to find the answer. This traveler will face great danger and hardships. He may never return. But, if he can find the place, he will be great among men.”

After the Chief had spoken, the silence was unbroken but for the wind that sighed through the trees.

Finally, a brave young man named Oklawana stepped forward. “My Chief,” he said, “I will go and find where Father Sun sleeps.”

Lily Wanda cried out in distress. “No, no, do not go, Oklawana!” she said, pushing through the crowd to stand before her lover. “You will never return!”

Oklawana turned to Lily Wanda. “I must go. Our chief wishes it. I will return with great honor and claim you for my bride.” He took her hand. “I leave my wampum belt with you. It tells the story of our people’s councils. Guard it well until I return.” Then he made four bundles of sticks for the four seasons of the year. “Count these for me as the seasons pass.”

Unable to speak, Lily Wanda nodded and took the belt and sticks. The next sunrise, she watched her sweetheart start his long journey.

Every day, Lily Wanda prayed to the Great Spirit to send Oklawana back. She counted the bundle of sticks as the seasons passed. In the evenings, she sat in her doorway watching for his return. In time, she went up on the mountain and built signal smokes to guide her lover home.

Seasons passed and Lily Wanda grew old. She still counted the sticks and guarded the belt. She watched and prayed. One day as she prayed at the mound of Nanih Waiya, a stranger came to her.

“I saw the signal smoke and came to you,” he said. “Lily Wanda, do you remember me? I am Oklawana who went in search of the sleeping place of Father Sun. I have come back to you.”

“That is not true,” she replied. “Oklawana has been dead for many years. You are some other.”

“Is this the belt he gave you?” he asked, pointing to her waist.

“Yes, I have kept it for him but he does not return.”

“I gave you the belt. Don’t you remember me?”

“No, you are Halvah, the story teller. Let me be.” With these words, Lily Wanda died of a broken heart.

Oklawana caught her as she fell. He carried her body to the village and found that no one knew him.

“I followed Father Sun day after day, season after season,” Oklawana said wearily. “Finally, I saw him sink into a great blue lake, and I could not follow him. I have wandered many years trying to find my people, but you do not know me. My Lily Wanda did not know me. Now she is dead.”

Then he sank to the earth in despair and died of grief.

The people buried him and his faithful Lily Wanda together.

Permanent link to this article: http://www.jacquitalbot.com/2013/01/the-ever-faithful-lily-wanda/

Oct 17

More Homegrown Hauntings (Continued from Part 1)

WHAT’S PLAYING: Pussycat Dolls “I Hate This Part”

More creatures and legends from the reservation:

1. Ishkitini “The Horned Owl” – a sinister character believed to prowl about at night killing men and animals. When the ishkitini screeches, it means sudden death or murder. Owls were often associated with witchcraft.

2. Heloha “Thunder” and Melatha “Lightning” – huge birds responsible for dramatic thunderstorms. Heloha would lay her giant eggs in the clouds. They rumbled as the rolled around atop the clouds, causing thunder. Her mate, Melatha, was so fast that he left a trail of sparks as he streaked across the sky.

3. Shilombish “Outside Shadow” – Choctaws believed that every man had a shilombish (outside shadow) and a shilup (inside shadow). After death, the shilup departs to The Land of Ghosts or Heaven, while the shilombish is doomed to wander about its former home. The shadow would often try to frighten the dead man’s family and drive them from the house by imitating the cries of a fox or owl, which were bad omens. The only way to tell the difference between the cries of the shilombish and the animals it imitated is to listen for a reply. When a fox barks, or an owl screeches, another fox or owl replies. But when the shadow imitates the sound of either animal, no response is given.

4. Nahullo – This is a generic term that applies to spirits that never existed as human beings, although some say they were a race of gigantic hunters who lived in western Tennessee and the northern parts of Alabama and Mississippi during the Choctaw immigration. Later, the term was applied to Caucasians due to their pale skin.

Permanent link to this article: http://www.jacquitalbot.com/2012/10/more-homegrown-hauntings-continued-from-part-1/