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Indian Pioneer Papers

Pushmataha County

Indian Pioneer Papers

An interview with
Mrs. Eliza Elapotubee

Field Worker Johnson H. Hampton
April 27, 1937

Interview with Mrs. Eliza Elapotubee
Antlers, Oklahoma

I was born on August 27th, 1884, at Finley, Oklahoma, but at that time no Finley was there, it was out in the woods, since that time Finley was made into town and it is about 12 miles northeast of Antlers, Oklahoma.

My father's name was Wesley Edwards and my mother's name is Sally Edwards. My mother is still living, but my father died several years ago.

My father was not in the Civil War but my grandfather was in the southern army, but I never did hear him talk about the war. The only thing he said was that they had a hard time getting anything to eat, that they would go for several days without anything to eat, and did not have but very little clothing to keep them warm; but he said that they didn't care about that, they just wanted to win the war if they could, but his army surrendered, which was what he said all right with him for he had had enough of it any way.

My mother is very old now. She can hardly get around but she never did go to school and doesn't know anything about books, neither can she talk any English, nor she can't write her name, she is just full-blood Indian, so she never did tell us anything that happened during her lifetime. We had some cattle, hogs and ponies on the farm, and we raised some corn, not much but we made enough to make our bread, for that was all the corn we needed. There was lots of game and other wild meat that we could get, so we did not need much or many hogs to kill. We would kill some but not too many to put up during the winter. We had to buy our flour from Paris, Texas, some times but most of the time we lived on cornbread, (Banaha) and hominy. Mother could make several kinds of good things to eat out of corn. That was about the way with all Indians through out the country.

My father was an Indian doctor before statehood and practiced his profession after statehood. The white doctors had him arrested one time but did not do anything with him and turned him loose. After that they just turned him loose and let him practice among the Indians, the people used him from all parts of the country. Of course he practiced with barks, herbs, roots and other things. He had several kinds of medicine that he used and sometimes he would use white doctor's medicine but not very much. He also practiced some among the white people and they would use the herbs and roots, but they would take it for him, and they would get well from taking the medicine. I don't know whether he was a good doctor or not but the people said he was a good doctor. He got some people well that the white doctors gave up to die; of course some he lost for nobody can save all of them. I don't know just what he used, for he would not tell anyone about his medicine so when he died his medicine died with him. During his practice he did not make much money, for they would not pay him much, but he would take what they would give him in the way of corn, hogs and other things to eat, and would sometimes get a penny out of them. He would go anywhere to see the sick; they would come after him from everywhere, and he would go, for he said that he wanted to do all he could for the sick.

(Choctaw legend tells us that a young child would be picked to be an Indian doctor by the Kowi Anuckasha, Little People. They would raise the child and teach them about the use of roots and herbs and Medicine. These old Indian doctors could look a field of herbs and knew intuitively which specific plant was needed for their patient.)

I went to school for a while in a neighborhood school, but did not go to school anywhere else and did not go to this school but a few months; that is all the school I got, so I am unable to speak English very much and can't read it, but I can read my own language pretty well.

I am Choctaw Indian and have always lived with them. I lived on the farm all my life but now I am living in the town of Antlers, and maybe I will stay here a long time or I may go back to the farm.
 

submitted by Troy Splawn

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