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Indian Pioneer Papers

Pushmataha County

Indian Pioneer Papers

An interview with
LEWIS FELIHKATUBBE

ByField Worker,  Johnson H. Hampton
August 5th, 1937

I was born near what is now Finley, Oklahoma, it was then Cedar County, Choctaw Nation, on September 25,1892. My fatherís name was GILBERT FELIHKATUBBE and my motherís name was SALIAN FELIHKATUBBE. They lived near Finley. I donít think they came from Mississippi for I never heard them say anything about it. I think they were raised in this country, they lived near Finley until their death.

I did not know the name of my grandfather nor my grandmother. They both died before I was born so I donít know anything about them. I donít know whether they came from Mississippi or not; if they did I never heard of it. From what I heard of them they were located near the place where my father lived, and I donít know if my grandfather was in the Civil War or not.

My father was in the Civil War and served all during the war. He joined the Southern Army like all other Choctaws. He said they had a battle with some Indian soldiers somewhere. He didnít know who they were but he thought that it must have been Cherokees for they had joined the Northern Army during the Civil War. They fought a good fight he said. Donít know what command he was nor under what officers. All the soldiers he was with were Choctaw Indians.

He said they had a hard time while in the army. They had to ride without anything to eat nor any water to drink. They would find water in a puddle hole and drink that on the road. Some of the Indians froze to death in the winter, and some would get sick and die for want of attention. They were not fixed to take care of the sick so if one got sick he just died. Smallpox got among the soldiers and killed a good many of them; others came home and spread the smallpox among the Choctaws at home and a good many of them died. They did not know what to do with the disease when it spread among them so the only thing to do was to die, and of course they were afraid of the smallpox as they would not help with those that were sick as the family had to do all the work. After one would die, they rolled him up in a sheet and put him in the grave without a ceremony of any kind.

We had a little farm. It was about five or six acres. The Choctaws did not have large farms. They did not work much either so the five or six acres was about all they needed; just enough to raise their corn for their cornbread. They raised corn, beans and potatoes to eat, but not much of anything else. They did not much flour to eat for they did not have the money with which to buy their flour, coffee and sugar. On Sundays they would have flour, bread and coffee and sugar. They parched corn for coffee during the weekdays to save the coffee and the flour too. They beat their corn to make the meal for use in the weekdays, they would beat this corn in a mortar to make the meal. They made hominy the same way, all the Indians made meal the same way.

We had a few cattle, hogs but we only had work ponies which we farmed with and used to pull the wagon when we went to meetings.

There were some Choctaws that had lots of wild ponies and cattle in our community. The country was open so it did not cost them anything to raise the stock and they did not have to feed them during the winter for the grass was green all through the winter, and lots of cane on the creeks for them to eat. They would go down into the bottoms during the winter and in the spring they would come out on the hills for the summer. They were wild. We had some wild cattle on the mountains. We did not know who they belonged to so we would go out and kill one and then distribute it the meat among the Indians. There were lots of wild ponies in the mountains. After the Whites began to settle they country they disappeared; I think they were all killed out.

I donít know of any Ghost Town nor cow trails nor ceremonial ground in this country. They might have had these things in the western part of the state but in this part, we had one trail through this country and that was the Military Trail which ran from Ft. Smith to Ft. Towsen, on to Doakesville.

The Choctaw Indians I donít think knew of the Indian Agency at all until the Dawes Commissioners came down and made an agreement with the Choctaws to take their land in severalty, which they did. After the land was taken up in severalty then the commissioners were located at Muskogee, and they might have had an agency but I did not know of it.

Some time in 1893 the Choctaws got a payment. I have been told but I donít know of it myself for I did not get it but I guess some of the folks got it for me and spent it. It was several years after that they began to get payments and they got several; then the last payment they got was the ten dollar one. They have not gotten any more payments since then.

I know of only one ferry boat that was in this part of the country. It was run by V.M. Locke on the Kiamichi river. He ran it until the state built a bridge across the river. He ran this boat for a long time. Whether he had a charter or not I donít know. It was the only one to cross the river that I know of.

I donít know anything about spinning wheels. I never saw one run. I did see one hanging up against the wall at the neighbors house; what they did with it I donít know. And I never played an Indian ball game. I saw a game played by the neighbor boys but it was too rough for me to attempt to play.

I have been to the Indian camp meetings and I have been to the Cries as the white people call them. They would announce the Cry several days ahead of time; then they would camp at the place the night before. The next day about eleven oíclock, the preacher would preach the memorial and then they would get around the grave and all cry, and after the cry was over they would eat dinner. After dinner they would all go home.

I went to school at Goodland for two terms. This school I attended was run by the Presbyterian church, I am sorry that I did not get to go any longer, for I am not able to read or write in English at all, nor can I speak English at all.

I am a full blood Choctaw Indian and all my parents were fullblood. I have lived among them all my life, and will live among them as long as I live, I am now living about fifteen miles north of Antlers, Oklahoma.
 

submitted by Troy Splawn

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