Visiting Choctaw Indian Country
10 Mar 2009
|We headed out on another beautiful, perfect weather day to explore some Choctaw Indian sites found in Neshoba and Kemper Counties.
Since the ownership has been in dispute, the facilities of the area has declined. There are a few picnic sites with tables and grills, 3 picnic shelters and an information building. The buildings especially had deteriorated. We found information brochures scattered all over the floor and even the electric fuse box had been vandalized. We hope the Indians can get the place back in repair.
You can walk up the mound via a set of wooden steps. We estimate the height to be around 30-40 feet. It is a grass covered mound, oblong in shape. The legend of the mound is that it is a burial place, but the sign also said that the chief had used it as a platform for sacred ceremonies.
It is believed that the Nanih Waiya Mound site had been occupied from the time of Christ. The occupational time period is based on art factual materials found at the village area around the major mound.
In 1775 James Adair, stated that there were two oblong mounds at the site. The mounds then were enclosed by a broad, deep ditch and a high breast work. In 1923, Dr. Calvin Brown, State Geologist visited the site and the mound had been cultivated but retained its original height.
In the 1400s (some Indian legend say) that some Choctaw Indians migrated from Oklahoma in the West. The spiritual leader would lead the group and each night as the group stopped, he would stick a wooden pole in the ground. Whatever way the pole was leaning the next morning, was the direction the group would head. When the leader reached the Mound, he planted the pole and it remained upright. The tribe knew they had reached their destination. The article I read said the Choctaw would not have stayed near the sacred mound except that it had been Choctaw here before.
Another belief of the Choctaw is that they as a people, originated in a large mound.
Sign found at the Indian Mound
Nanih Wayia Mound may have been erected as long as 1,000 year ago and is likely the Mother Mound referred to in Choctaw legend architectural investigations around the mound indicated this area was occupied from the time of Christ until about 1700 a mound of this type was usually the center of a fortified village. In 1828 Chief Greenwood Leflore called a national assembly here to make laws to bring about harmony with white civilization during the years of Choctaw Emigration from Mississippi between 1830-1840, many said they would never abandon their “Mother” as long as she stood.
Nearby is a cave, with Indian hieroglyphics, but it has been closed for a number of years. We hope it will open at a future date to the public. We passed the Bogue Chitto Swamp on the way to the Mound. The topography is very hilly. And in the valleys of the hills was the swamp area. This swamp is fed or feeds the Pearl River. This part of Mississippi is crisscrossed by many rivers. I am sure that is why the area has been known for its forestry industry.
Next we drove to an area where the Treaty of Dancing Rabbit Creek was signed. A road sign reads:
About 5 miles north of here on September 7, 1830 the Choctaw Indians signed their last treaty with the U.S. yielding most of their remaining tribal lands in Mississippi to the white settlers.
The actual treaty sight is marked by a stone marker in the center of a cemetery. It is a beautiful area on a fairly high hill, with a stone monument reading pretty much the same as the above, except it also has the chief’s names. Many of the Choctaw moved west to Oklahoma, but a few protested and received land grants of 150 acres or so for them to make their own homesteads in this territory. The owners of the land had to be given back their own land. What a typical story. There is a Choctaw Reservation which encompasses parts of Philadelphia. They tribe has opened 2 casinos there.
One of the markers in the cemetery read as follows:
Chief Cameron Wesley
Born June 18, 1865
Died April 15 1972
Age 105 years.
It is truly amazing to find history all around you wherever you may be. We enjoyed the two sites and again the Indians were the losers.
We leave for Baton Rouge tomorrow. We may have no Internet for a few days.