The story of the Mississippi River~


History of the Choctaw, Chickasaw and Natchez Indians (1899) Author: Cushman, H. B. (Horatio Bardwell)

(Pg 62) Their tradition, in regard to their origin as related by the aged Choctaws to the missionaries in 1820, was in substance as follows:

In a remote period of the past their ancestors dwelt in a country far distant toward the setting sun; and being conquered and greatly oppressed by a more powerful people (the Spaniards under Cortez) (Pg 63) resolved to seek a country far removed from the possibility of their oppression. A great national council was called, to which the entire nation in one vast concourse quickly responded.

After many days spent in grave deliberations upon the question in which so much was involved, a day was finally agreed upon and a place of rendezvous duly appointed whence they should bid a final adieu to their old homes and country and take up their line of march to seek others, they knew not where.

When the appointed day arrived it found them at the designated place fully prepared and ready for the exodus under the chosen leadership of two brothers, Chahtah and Chikasah,  both equally renowned for their bravery and skill in war and their wisdom and prudence in council ; who, as Moses and Aaron led the Jews in their exodus from Egypt, were to lead them from a land of oppression to one of peace, prosperity and happiness.

The evening before their departure a ” Fabussa” (pole, pro. as Fa-bus-sah) was firmly set up in the ground at the centre point of their encampment, by direction of their chief medicine man and prophet, whose wisdom in matters pertaining to things supernatural was unquestioned and to whom, after many days fasting and supplication, the Great Spirit had revealed that the Fabussa would indicate on the following morning, the direction they should march by its leaning; and, as the star led the Magi to where the world’s infant Redeemer and Savior sweetly reposed, so the leaning of the pole, on each returning morn, would indicate the direction they must travel day by day until they reached the sought and desired haven; when, on the following morn, it would there and then remain as erect as it had been placed the evening before.  At the early dawn of the following morn many solicitous eyes were turned to the silent but prophetic Fabussa, Lo! It leaned to the east.

Enough. Without hesitation or delay the mighty host began its line of march toward the rising sun, and  followed each day the morning directions given by the talismanic pole, which was borne by day at the head of the moving multitude, and set up at each returning evening in the centre of the encampment, alternately by the two renowned chiefs-aid brothers, Chahtah and Chikasah.

For weeks and months they journeyed toward the east as directed by the undeviating fabussa, passing over wide extended plains and through forests vast and abounding with game of many varieties seemingly undisturbed before by the presence of man, from which their skillful hunters bountifully supplied their daily wants. Gladly would they have  accepted, as their future (Pg 64) asylum, many parts of the country through which they traveled, but were forbidden, as each returning morn the unrelenting- pole still gave its silent but comprehended command:  “Eastward and onward” After many months of wearisome travel, suddenly a vast body of flowing water stretched its mighty arm athwart their path. With unfeigned astonishment they gathered in groups upon its banks and gazed upon its turbid waters. Never before had they even heard of, or in all their wanderings stumbled upon aught like this. Whence its origin? Where its terminus?

This is surely the Great Father the true source of all waters, whose age is wrapt in the silence of the unknown past, ages beyond all calculation, and as they then and there named it “Misha Sipokni” (Beyond Age, whose source and terminus are unknown).

Surely a more appropriate, beautiful and romantic name, than its usurper Mississippi, without any signification.

But who can tell when the waters of Misha Sipokni first found their way from the little Itasca lake hidden in its northern home, to the far away gulf amid the tropics of the south?

Who when those ancient Choctaws stood upon its banks and listened to its murmurings which alone disturbed the silence of the vast wilderness that stretched away on every side, could tell of its origin and over what mighty distances it rolled its muddy waters to their ultimate , destiny?

And who today would presume to know or even conjecture, through what mysterious depths its surging currents struggle ere they plunge into the southern gulf?

But what now says their dumb talisman? Is Misha Sipokni to be the terminus of their toils? Are the illimitable forests that so lovingly embraced in their wide extended arms its restless waters to be their future homes? Not so. Silent and motion less, still as ever before, it bows to the east and its mandate “Onward, beyond Misha Sipokn” is accepted without a murmur; and at once they proceed to construct canoes and rafts by which, in a few weeks, all were safely landed upon its eastern banks, whence again was resumed their eastward march, and so continued until they stood upon the western banks of the Yazoo river and once more encamped for the night; and, as had been done for many months before, ere evening began to unfold her curtains and twilight had spread o er all her mystic light, the Fabussa (now truly their Delphian oracle) was set up; but ere the morrow’s sun had plainly lit up the eastern horizon, many anxiously watching eyes that early rested upon its straight, slender, silent form, observed it stood erect as when set up the evening before. And then was borne upon that morning breeze (Pg 65) throughout the vast sleeping- encampment, the joyful acclamation, “Fohah hupishno Yak! Fohah hupishno Yak! (pro.as Fo-hah, Rest, hup-ish-noh, we, all of us, Yak, here.)

Download book here: Pasted from <http://archive.org/details/histchoctaw00cushrich>

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