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NUNIH WAYA

The first capital of the Choctaw Nation in Indian Territory and the earliest seat of government established within Oklahoma, Nunih Waya was located approximately one and one-half miles west of Tuskahoma in present Pushmataha County. Nunih Waya (Nanih Waiya), meaning "bending" or "leaning mountain," was originally the name of a sacred Choctaw mound in Winston County, Mississippi. According to a tribal origin myth the Choctaw, or "red people," emerged from beneath the knoll.

Upon the completion of their removal to Indian Territory the Choctaw reorganized their government under a new constitution in 1834. Their governing body was a unicameral legislature, and a council house was built in 1838. Constructed at a site comparable to their Mississippi homeland, the one-room, log edifice was named Nunih Waya during the initial general council meeting in autumn 1838.

The Choctaw constitution was amended in 1843, resulting in the establishment of a two-house legislature. The senate occupied Nunih Waya, and a house of representatives building was erected nearby. In 1850 the Choctaw capitol was relocated to Doaksville, and the legislative houses were sold. It was the first of several moves for the Choctaw government that included stays at Skullyville, Fort Towson, and Boggy Depot. No ruins of Nunih Waya remain.

SEE ALSO: AMERICAN INDIANS, CHOCTAW, DOAKSVILLE, INDIAN REMOVAL, INDIAN TERRITORY.

BIBLIOGRAPHY: Angie Debo, The Rise and Fall of the Choctaw Republic (2nd ed.; Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1961). Anna Lewis, "Nunih Waiya," The Chronicles of Oklahoma 16 (June 1938). Muriel H. Wright, "Historic Spots in the Vicinity of Tuskahoma," The Chronicles of Oklahoma 9 (March 1931).

Jon D. May

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