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Chronicles of Oklahoma
Volume 7, No. 3
September, 1929

Page 323

The historic site, famed in Indian lore as the Council Ground of the Choctaw Nation, known to history as the place where the treaty of Dancing Rabbit Creek was signed, was marked by the unveiling of a handsome boulder commemorating the signing of that treaty; the ceremonies took place June 28th. 1928, under the auspices of Bernard Romans Chapter, Daughters of the American Revolution of Columbus, Mississippi.

The boulder is five feet high, three feet wide, and weighs Six thousand pounds. It is of pearl gray granite with a lettering in the latest type of U-sunk blast work.

The spot where the boulder is placed is said to be the exact location on which the Indians and the United States Commissioners stood to sign the memorable treaty. After nearly a century of obscurity, the treaty was signed September 27th. 1830.

The treaty is said to be one of the largest ever signed between the United States Government and the Indians in time of peace. It was a great historical event.

It has been well said, "A land of patriotic monuments is a land of heroes."

The Bernard Romans Chapter not only have erected the monument but purchased the land surrounding it from Miss Pearl Jackson, of Noxubee County, Mississippi, December 12th 1916, "A certain tract of land forty feet square in the north west quarter of section three (3) township thirteen (13) range fifteen (15) east, and located as follows: With Dancing Rabbit Creek Spring as a starting point draw a line to a point three hundred feet distance across the old Summerville road, and from this point draw another line due north forty feet, which shall be the southwest corner of the tract; thence east forty feet, thence north to the point of (beginning, which tract includes the site of the Dancing Rabbit Creek Treaty."

This locality, includes a natural semi ampitheater and the Dancing Rabbit Creek Springs, and some land south, west

Page 324

and north of the council grounds, is an ideal place for a park.

The name of the creek in Choctaw is "Chunkfi-ahihlabok" which translated is "Chunkfi", rabbit, "a", the locative preposition prefixed to the verb "hide," to dance and "box," creek. "Rabbit-there dances—creek, that is "Dancing Rabbit Creek." It is said many rabbits frequent the place to this day.

This Dancing Rabbit country was a famous hunting ground during the old Indian tunes.

Dancing Rabbit Creek was no doubt, selected as a treaty ground on account of its being so well known to the widely scattered Choctaw people.

When the United States Commissioners went to treat with the Choctaws in 1830, President Jackson gave them no instructions but, "Fail not to make a treaty."

"It seems that altogether from first to last, there were about 6,000 Indians, men, women and children, that went into camp at Dancing Rabbit Creek. "While the United States Commissioners arrived on the grounds on Wednesday, September, 15th. 1830, and the first conference or council was held on Saturday, September 18th. no speeches by Choctaw chiefs and captains favoring a treaty, were made until Saturday, September 25th, except by half-breed chief Killihota, who on Wednesday, September 22nd. spoke in council favoring the execution of a treaty. The Indians almost to a man up to September 25th. opposed the making of a treaty. Killihota’s talk elicited much dissatisfaction from the Choctaws, especially from the seven old women, seated in the center of a ring, who gave vent to their indignation in bitter exclamations, one of them sprang excitedly to her feet, and made a threatening gesture toward Killihota, with a butcher knife."

It was mainly through the influence of the Choctaw chief of the western district, Colonel Greenwood Le Flore who suggested certain modifications of the proposed treaty, including the 14th. article which provided that those who desired to remain in the state would have the privilege of doing so, that the Indians were induced to execute the treaty, the suggestion of Col. Le Flore having been acquiesced in by the United States Commissioners. Consequently the three chiefs and others of the principal men of the Choctaws, on Satur-

Page 325

day, September 25th, addressed the council and urged the acceptance of the terms offered as amended.

Major Eaton, of the two commissioners, did nearly all the talking on behalf of the United States at Dancing Rabbit Creek, and in every talk he acted on the policy of alternatively appealing to the Indians hopes, and fears. Colonel Coffee seemed to be the more conservative of the two, but he was an able man. In the course of their talks the commissioners dwelt upon the interest of the "Great Father General Jackson (then the President of the United States), in the Choctaw people, many of whom had fought by his side in defense of their country and his.

The Choctaws were very much averse to being forced to discharge the duties and obligations that would be incumbent on them as citizens of the state, if they did not sign the treaty, such as the payment of taxes, working public roads, attending musters, etc.

"To sum up the whole matter, it can safely be placed on record that the seductive influence of the 14th article, fear, intimidation and coercion, all more or less combined, were the causes that prompted the Choctaw council to sign the treaty."

Monday, the 27th. day of September, 1830, was the noted day on which the treaty of Dancing Rabbit Creek was signed by Major John H. Eaton, secretary of war, and Colonel Coffee, on the part of the United States, and by Mushulatubbee, chief of the northwestern district, Colonel Greenwood Le Flore, chief of the western district, and Nittahechi, chief of the southeastern district and also by the captains, other leaders and principal men, on behalf of the Choctaw Nation.

There was a supplemental treaty signed on Tuesday, September 28th, 1830. This is the date of the conclusion of Dancing Rabbit Creek Treaty.

Nittakechi was the nephew of the noted Choctaw warrior, orator, statesman, diplomat and great friend of the whites Apushmataha.

The chief of the northeastern district signed his name to the treaty, spelling it "Mushulatubbee". "On the 24th of February, 1831, the treaty was ratified by the United States Senate. By this act whether right or wrong the Choctaw’s sovereignty yielded to white supremacy and the all con-

Page 326

quering and the all-coercing white man secured as a possession, never to be given up, all remaining lands east of the Mississippi River from that race of red men, who doubtless thousands of years had been the undisputed proprietors of a large portion of the domain of Mississippi.

The territory ceded to the United States by this treaty was divided into eighteen large counties of the State of Mississippi, including Nuxubee county.

"It must be recorded that a large portion of the white people at Dancing Rabbit Creek were not the best characters, being mainly rowdies, gamblers and saloon keepers, in short the bad element characteristic of the American frontier. The law was very much relaxed on this occasion and all the demoralizing noncomitants of civilization were to be found in the fork of the two streams, drinking saloons, gambling tables and every other cunning device where by to catch the loose cash of the white men and the Indian.

"The dissipation and revelry at Dancing Rabbit Creek was not confined to the day time alone, but every night somewhere on the grounds, there was an Indian dance, which was always protracted to a later hour."

"No more chaste race ever existed than the Choctaws and there was no licentiousness whatever at Dancing Rabbit Creek."

It is also pleasing to record that amid the scenes of Indian gambling amusement, and revelry at Dancing Rabbit Creek, there was a notable exception in the conduct of the Christian Indians who lived under the jurisdiction of Captain David Folsom. This Christian party with their captain, kept up their religious services of preaching, praying and singing every night at a late hour."

The Patent the United States government issued to the Choctaws for their land west of the Mississippi River March, 23rd, 1842 is in the Oklahoma State Historical Society. There is not a more important document in the state. Every piece of property in the old Chickasaw and Choctaw Nation when sold the abstract goes back to the Treaty of Dancing Rabbit Creek. It reads as follows

"Whereas, by the Second Article of the Treaty began and, held at Dancing Rabbit Creek, on the fifteenth day of September in the year of our Lord one thousand and eight

Page 327

hundred and thirty, (as ratified by the Senate of the United States on the 24th. day of February 1831) by the Commissioners on the part of the United States, and the Mingo Chiefs, Captains, and Warriors of the Choctaw Nation, on the part of said Nation, it is provided that "The United States a grant especially to be made by the President of the United States, shall cause to be conveyed to the Choctaw Nation a tract of "Country west of the Mississippi River, in fee simple, to them and their discendents, to insure to them while they shall exist as a Nation, and live on" it: Beginning near Ft. Smith, where the Arkansas boundry crosses the Arkansas River, running thence to the source of the Canadian Fork, if in limits of the United States, or those limits; thence due south to Red River, and down Red River to the west boundry of the Territory of Arkansas, thence north along that line to the beginning. The boundry of the same to be agreeable to the Treaty, made and concluded at Washington City in the year 1825.

NOW KNOW YE, That the United States of America, in consideration of Primises and in execution of the agreement and stipulations, in the aforesaid Treaty, Have Given and Granted, unto the said Choctaw Nation, the aforesaid "Tract of Country West of the Mississippi, "TO HAVE AND TO HOLD THE SAME, with all the rights, privileges and appertenances of whatsoever nature there unto belonging, as intended." "to be conveyed" by the afore said Article "in fee simple to them and their descendants, to insure to them, while they shall exist as a Nation, and live on it," liable to no transfer or alineation except to the United States or with their consent. In Testimony Whereof, I JOHN TYLER, President of the United States of America, have caused the Letters to be made Patent, and the Seal of the General Land Office to be thereunto affixed, Given under my hand at the City of Washington the 23rd day of March, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and forty two, of the Independence of the United States, the sixty sixth.

John Tyler,
By the President
Daniel Webster, Secretary of State.

The Choctaws were not, by any means, such hunters or nomads, as has been supposed. They were, to a great extent, a sedentary people, having fixed homes, and living largely on

Page 328

the products of agriculture, or more properly speaking, horticulture. It is true their bill of fare was generally supplemented with animal flesh or wild food plants, but their principal food supply came from their cultivated patches, in which they grew corn, peas, pumpkin, squashes, and sunflowers. In more recent times, the sun flower ceased to be cultivated. "Hashshi" is the native term for sunflower, a word worn down from "Hashhiushi", which means little sun. This fact is given to call attention to the similar working of the mind of the white man and the Choctaw in giving a name to this flower

from its supposed resemblance to the sun.

The seeds of the sunflower were used in making a kind of pudding. The husk of the seeds were removed, and placed in a mortar with parched corn and meal, when thoroughly mixed together by pounding, it was ready to be converted into a pudding.

"Plum and peach orchards were not uncommon among the Choctaws in Romans day." Many of the seeds of Indian peaches were brought with the Choctaws when they moved west of the Mississippi River. The most improved peach of to-day does not excel the flavor of what was called the old Indian cling stone with a red meat, well remembered for many years in Indian Territory.

The gradual introduction of domestic animals about the time of the American Revolution, was credited in a great measure to the influx of Tory refugees, and had a tendency to make the Choctaws more rural in their habits, and thus to some extent, cause them to abandon their towns."

The material for this article was partly taken from the Daughters of the American Revolution Magazine, Dec. 1928, "Story of the Treaty of Dancing Rabbit Creek," by Mr. Halbert, in Publications of the Mississippi Historical Society, and an article in "The Macon Beacon," by John A. Tyson of Macon, Miss.

—Czarina C. Conlan

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