Interview # 4612
Field Worker: Maurice R. Anderson
Date: June 24, 1936
Name: Mr. Arthur James
Residence: Pauls Valley, Oklahoma
Date of Birth: 1882
Place of Birth: Pauls Valley, Chickasaw Nation, Indian Territory.
Father: Swell James, born in Chickasaw Nation
Mother: Josephine Brown, born in Chickasaw Nation
I was born in 1882, eight miles east of Pauls Valley, in the
Chickasaw Nation. I am fullblood Chickasaw Indian.
My father was a farmer and raised lots of cattle and had about a hundred
ponies. If you had lots of ponies you were counted rich. That was the way we
counted our riches, by the number of ponies we owned, and when a Chickasaw Indian boy grew
up, his father would give him so many ponies and he could put his own brand on them.
When one of our people got sick we would have a sick dance. The
Medicine Man would go to see the sick person first. Then four men pciked for the
watch job would go to the house and watch four days and on the fourth day at noon, they
would cook up a pot of meats of all kinds and also cook a pot of medicine made out of
different kinds of herbs. Then the bunch would gather for the dance and if anybody
crossed in front of the door of the room where the sick one was, the four men would catch
whoever it was and duck his or her head in this pot of medicine. If they failed to
catch the one who crossed in front of the door, the sick one would die. That was
what we were taught to believe. Then there would be two girls with terrapin shells
tied around their knees and ankles with buckskin strings. These two girls come out
of the house and start keeping time with the drum which was made out of a deer hide
stratched over a block which had been hollowed out and which took the place of a drum.
As soon as these girls had danced around the ring, we would all be in a big circle
and the two girls would dance around keeping time with the drum and as soon as they
went around the circle again, then everybody would start dancing and anyone could go in
front of the door or into the house and it was all right after the girls danced around the
big circle of people.
We would dance until everyone was about worn out. Then we would have
the feast and after we had all eaten we would start the dance again.
The main thing I liked when I was a boy was to go on the big fish fries.
Some of the men would get the roots from the buckeye bushes and put them in sacks
and beat them up well. Thena bout midnight they would take these sacks to the lake
or the place where they fish fry was to be and put the sacks of pulverized buckeye in the
water. Then early the next morning everyone would meet there and we ould have a big
fire going and the fish would be swinning around with their mouths stuck out of the watere
buckeye roots beaten up would make the fish sick and all we had to do was pick oyt the big
fish and the women would start the fry. Sometimes the women would have a long green
stick, sharpened on one end and after the fish was cleaned, this stick was stuck through
it and put over the fire and roasted. I liked fish fried the best.
When one of