Wednesday, January 19, 2011

"All Things Connect..."

 I've been more curious than ever lately about my heritage in being a government registered, one-quarter, Choctaw Indian. This entry is for me, for journaling; so I can look back and remember where I came from. Also, to see the sacrifices of so many for me to be here and have the wonderful life that I do.

My ancestors were primarily from Oklahoma with many current relatives still there to this day. I have found that Choctaw chief Allen Wright (1826-1885) suggested Oklahoma (okla "man" and humma "red"- land of the red man) as the name of the new territory. I spent many days there growing up and when I'm back home, still go as often as I can. Our family has many acres of land, 88 of them being Indian Treaty land. My great-grandmother, Mattie, was awarded 8.8 acres per child, which is for 10 kids. This is a picture of my great-grandmother Mattie and her husband, Sylvester Ladner. Mattie died in 1924 in her mid-twenties, when my grandfather, Andrew, was about six weeks old. Sylvester later married, Audry, who raised Mattie's 3 children and had 7 additional of her own. These pictures of both Mattie and Audry are the first and only pictures I have ever seen of them. All of which are buried together in the Jimtown Cemetary of Love Co. Oklahoma.

Mattie (1895-1924)
Audry (1897-1981)
Sylvester Ladner (1893-1972)

My grandfather, Andrew (1924-2000)

A little history on Choctaw Indians: the word Choctaw is derived from the Choctaw phrase, "Hacha Hatak," meaning river people. They were known as one of the "Five Civilized Tribes" because they adopted and integrated numerous cultural and technological practices of their European American colonial neighbors.

In 1831, U.S. President Andrew Jackson, who was given the name of "Sharp Knife" by the Choctaw people, made the Choctaw's the first Native Americans to travel on the Trail of Tears. The Choctaw were exiled (to the area now called Oklahoma) because the U.S. wanted to expand territory for settlement to European Americans, wanted to save them from extinction, and wanted to acquire their natural resources. 

This is a sculpture by James Earle Frazer called "The End of the Trail" which was inspired by poetry from Marion Manville Pope, "The trail is lost, the path is hid, and winds that blow from out the ages sweep me on to that chill borderland where Time’s spent sands engulf lost peoples and lost trails.”

In World War I, they served in the U.S. military as the first Native American code talkers against the Germans, using the Choctaw language as a natural code.

George Washington (first U.S. President) and Henry Knox (first U.S. Secretary of War) proposed the cultural transformation of Native Americans. Washington believed that Native Americans were equals but that their society was inferior to that of the European Americans. He formulated a policy to encourage the "civilizing" process, and Thomas Jefferson continued it. Washington's six-point plan included impartial justice toward Indians; regulated buying of Indian lands; promotion of commerce; promotion of experiments to civilize or improve Indian society; presidential authority to give presents; and punishing those who violated Indian rights. The government appointed agent, Benjamin Hawkins, to live among the Indians and to teach them through example and instruction, how to live like whites. The Choctaws accepted Washington's policy as they established schools, adopted modern farming practices, converted to Christianity, and built houses like their colonial neighbors.

"We have long heard of your nation as a numerous, peaceable, and friendly people; but this is the first visit we have had from its great men at the seat of our government. I welcome you here; am glad to take you by the hand, and to assure you, for your nation, that we are their friends. Born in the same land, we ought to live as brothers, doing to each other all the good we can, and not listening to wicked men, who may endeavor to make us enemies..." —President Thomas Jefferson, Brothers of the Choctaw Nation, December 17, 1803

The US government set up the Dawes Commission to manage the land allotment policy. Beginning in 1894, the Dawes Commission was established to register Choctaw and other families of the Indian Territory, so that the former tribal lands could be properly distributed among them. The final list included 18,981 citizens of the Choctaw Nation, 1,639 Mississippi Choctaw, and 5,994 former slaves, most held by Choctaws in the Indian/Oklahoma Territory.

Chata Anumpa (Choctaw): Hattak yuka keyu hokυtto yakohmit itibachυfat hieli kυt, nan isht imaiυlhpiesa atokmυt itilawashke; yohmi ha hattak nana hohkia, keyukmυt kanohmi hohkia okla moma nana isht aim aiυlhpiesa, micha isht aimaiυlhtoba he aima ka kanohmi bano hosh isht ik imaiυlhpieso kashke. Amba moma kυt nana isht imachukma chi ho tuksυli hokmakashke.
English Language: That all free men, when they form a special compact, are equal in rights, and that no man or set of men are entitled to exclusive, separate public emolument or privileges from the community, but in consideration of public services.

The Choctaws believed in a good spirit and an evil spirit. They may have been sun, or Hushtahli, worshipers. The historian Swanton wrote, "The Choctaws anciently regarded the sun as a deity ... the sun was ascribed the power of life and death. He was represented as looking down upon the earth, and as long as he kept his flaming eye fixed on any one, the person was safe ... fire, as the most striking representation of the sun, was considered as possessing intelligence, and as acting in concert with the sun ... having constant intercourse with the sun ..." The word nanpisa (the one who sees) expressed the reverence the Choctaw had for the sun.

I hold a high regard to my ancestors for their struggles, their battles, but yet their respect for each other as well as those of "other lands."  I can only aspire to be the least bit as strong of a person as they were. From their perseverance and determination for a future, we now have a Choctaw Nation going strong today with at least 160,000 registered Choctaw Indians. 
"Humankind has not woven the web of life.
We are but one thread within it.
Whatever we do to the web, we do to ourselves.
All things are bound together.
All things connect."

Chief Seattle, 1854

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Just a lil' update!

Well we are already in the 3rd week of January and a lot has happened! That could mean one of two things; this is going to be an eventful year or I'm just being lazy and my pretty chill schedule is proving to be a little much...which I don't think it's the second.

Josh and I have started our semester at Weber State and I have to say that it was not what I expected! I expected a little tougher classes, longer days, and professors with sticks up their bums. Little did I know that I would have easier classes- one that does not give tests/finals or quizzes (Anthropology) and another class that we perform meditation and "power naps" (stress management) and then a Hatha yoga class (all with awesome professors!) I also am taking a math and a biology class. Biology might be a challenge only because my professor is from France so she "zounds zike zis!" Its tough when she's talking a thousand miles an hour about homeostasis, epithelial tissues and all aspects of cells. Anyway, I'm not complaining because I'm done with school everyday by 12:30 and 9:30am on Fridays. I'm really enjoying it!

Another thing that I have been working really hard at is exercising, with an emphasis on running. I've always loved to work out but living in Ephraim made me pretty lazy because there was nothing there. We joined an awesome gym here in Ogden that offered unlimited tanning, massage chairs and workouts for $20 a month. I go just about every day for about an hour, and for the first time, have been so consistent. I have seen major results, more so in my endurance. I actually really enjoy running and those words have never escaped these lips before.

We enjoy living here in Ogden with Josh's grandparents. We tried getting our own apartment this semester but because we leave the state for Josh's job every summer, it was hard finding an apartment that offered short-term leases. It has all worked out perfectly though!

Well that's all that has changed here with the exception of a new haircut tomorrow- I'm gonna get back to painting my toes and watching the Golden Globes...why am I such a sucker for fashion and celebs.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

My New Year's Resolutions

As I previously posted, we've had a few up's and down's over this holiday break...more down's than up's though unfortunately. We had Grandma Clark's funeral this past Thursday, it was such a great service! The weather was cold but it very sunny, a lot of good memories were shared, and I met a lot of family that I hadn't met yet. The funeral slightly reminded me of my Mimi and Poppy Ladner's funeral a few years ago. Although, I'm still not too sure if it had anything to do with all the "cowboy attire" most people had on.

I LOVED and still do love my grandparents very much and think about them quite often. Through thinking about them and then hearing of the kind of woman Grandma Clark was, really made me think of what people will say about me at my funeral (hopefully quite a few years down the road...)
I know I can be short-tempered, slightly OCD with keeping our place clean, I am definitely a complainer no matter how hard I try not to be, and I'm not the best cook but I've learned that being the best person you can be is the trick to getting "good reviews" when that day comes.

I'm going to practice my cooking because I have no reason not to be a good cook- we have a real stove and don't have to use a wood burning one. I'm not going to complain so much because I don't have a pump water or wash laundry in a basin. I'm going to continue with keeping the house clean but not be so quick to anger when the floor needs to be swept again the next day. Afterall, the house is the only thing I need to keep clean because we don't have a farm or chicken coop to deal with so it could be worse. I live close to conveniences and don't have to grow and harvest every single necessity.

We have life so easy these days that we tend to get upset when life almost isn't handed to us or that it's not "easy enough!" Challenges build character and I want to have a lot of character like my grandparents and especially Grandma Clark- she was a lil' firecracker! I want to be an example. If a little old woman like Grandma Clark and a partially paralyzed Mimi Francis and an old, cheerful Indian man like Poppy Ladner can make such a significant impact on people's lives, then I know that I can too.

So as my New Year has begun, I now welcome challenges and challenge myself to tread right through them with as much strength and optimism that I can muster! Life is too short to not learn more about yourself and your capabilities. I choose to have a more cheerful and happy disposition, less grumpiness. I will work hard for myself and our future family. I will also find time to enjoy life's simplest pleasures with those that I love and also by myself. May you too, find your challenges as character builders and not unwelcomed events. Happy New Year to everyone...and to you, 2011, please don't be too rough on us.