By Robert L. Williams
Colbert A. Burris was born in Pontotoc County, Mississippi in 1827. His father died when he was five years old, and in 1837 with a Chickasaw contingent of emigrants he came to Push-ma-lein, Choctaw Nation, and later lived near Tuskahoma and then at Doaksville in 1849 and during 1850 in Jacks Fork county, where he married Anhoyi, whose surname was Palmer. In 1856 he removed to the Chickasaw Nation and located in Pontotoc County, and from this county was elected as a representative, and afterward in 1859 from that district as a senator, in the legislature. In 1861 he was elected a Chickasaw delegate to the meeting of the five tribes at Old North Fork Town (Eufaula), and joined in the treaty with the Confederate States of America, frequently referred to as the Albert Pike treaty, and after the close of the Civil War participated at Fort Smith in negotiating with the United States what is generally referred to as the Treaty of 1866. He was a member of the delegation on the part of the Chickasaws in the three conferences between the Choctaws and Chickasaws, the last in 1886. During his public service in addition to that as a member of the legislature (lower house and senate) he was a member of the Chickasaw Supreme Court. An ordained minister of the Methodist Church, he was active in church work. After the death of his first wife, he married Miss Laura E. Bradley, an educated and cultured white woman, by whom he had seven children, only two having survived of the children by his first wife, to-wit., Hindman H. and Isaac.
In his youth, Hindman H. Burris attended schools at Stringtown, Atoka, and Caddo, and in 1875 and 1876 at the Colbert Chickasaw National School at old Stonewall3 and took advanced studies at Robberson's Academy a few miles southeast of Tishomingo, the name later changed to Chickasaw Male Academy when Joshua M. Harley4 was superintendent, same later being rebuilt at a new
1In Leaders and Leading Men, Choctaws and Chickasaws, O'Beirne, Vol. 1, p. 246, middle initial appears as "E". His daughter, Mrs. Alex (Lula D.) Rennie, states that it should be "A", signifying his Indian name "Ashalatubby," and that his wife's correct name was "Anhoyi" and not "Hoyay," and accounts for O'Beirne's error for reason her father spoke English brokenly and that "E" and not "A" and "Hoyay" and not "Anhoyi" were misunderstood by O'Beirne in preparation of copy for publication.
site just north of Tishomingo and called Harley Institute. It turned out many good and useful men. Its department of music was unexcelled and a student paper under leadership of Hindman H. Burris was published for the students and patrons, type being set and the paper printed by the boys of the academy.5
Hindman H. Burris was united in marriage on April 28, 1885, with Miss Rhoda McGill, who died without children, and on February 26, 1898 was united in marriage with Miss Viola Jackson, by whom he had five children: Hindman H. Burris, Jr., Tishomingo; Anne Worthington, Arcadia, California; Annita Newman, Colbert A. Burris and Perry Burris of Tishomingo.
In the early 80's he managed the general store of Governor William L. Byrd at old Stonewall; shortly thereafter he taught a Chickasaw neighborhood school for a few months at Yellow Springs, Pontotoc County. In the late 80's he clerked in the Byrd & Perry Store in Tishomingo, Frank Byrd, a brother of Governor Byrd, being the senior member, and was United States Postmaster there at that time. Then he was there associated with Jim Easton in the mercantile business. Later about 1890 he, with Governor R. M. Harris, and Frank Byrd jointly owned and operated a store in Tishomingo, and later acquired their interest.
During this period he established a country home nearby where he operated a farm and engaged in stock raising, on which he erected a suitable building for use by the community as a church and schoolhouse, which was called Burris Chapel.
In 1890 he was chairman of the commission that codified the laws of the Chickasaw Nation and a delegate to Washington on part of the tribe; in 1891 auditor of the Chickasaw Nation; in 1896 representative in the Chickasaw legislature from Tishomingo County, and its speaker, and resigned on October 7 at the close of the legislature; in 1896 and 1897 trustee of Burris National School, and treasurer of the Chickasaw Nation, and in 1898 he was a formidable candidate on part of the National party for governor. In 1899 he was trustee of Harley Institute. In prior years he had served as Chickasaw interpreter for the Chickasaw Supreme Court, and at the time of his death was a member of the Chickasaw Council by appointment of the governor of the Nation.
He died at Tishomingo on Friday, September 20, 1940, interment in the Chickasaw Cemetery, and survived by his wife and said children, also by two half brothers, George W. Burris, Ada, and Marvin J. Burris, Oklahoma City, and four half-sisters, Mrs. J. H. McKoy, Norman, Mrs. W. W. Woolly, Old Stonewall (Frisco), Mrs. Daisy Farnham, Duncan, and Mrs. Lula D. Rennie, Durant.
He was a member of the Masonic Lodge No. 77, F. & A. M., at Tishomingo, the Woodmen of the World, and of the Methodist Church, and after the erection of the state of Oklahoma affiliated with the Democratic party.
Prominent leader in the political affairs of the Chickasaw Nation and its National party, his life both as a young man and in his prime and aging years exemplified a fine citizenship. In business and public life he observed a high type of ethics and uprightness. As an honor to his race and his tribe and government and the national tribal party, with correct carrying on after the erection of the state, he will be remembered.