OR HIOWANNI, INDIANS. (cont.)
The history of the
Yowanne Indians is interesting of itself and has the piquancy of being
something of an archaeological problem as well. Their habitat was on the
Chickasahay river a mile or two south of the thriving modern town of Shubuta.
The river in this vicinity runs through rich prairie lands and is banked
by high limestone cliffs on each side. The Indian language is full of figures
of speech, dwelling largely on natural objects and sights, and, although
they are not generally credited with being much impressed with scenery,
it would be difficult even for savages to avoid the charm of their surroundings.
The settlement was a large one, for no other part of the State offers in
equal limits a greater number of mounds, as yet almost unexplored.
Of history, as the
European understands this term, they had little. No great battle between
the explorers and the aborigines occurred near there,, none between the
different Indian nations themselves, and no conflict of colonial times
desecrated their fields or forests. From a very early date they pursued
their uninterrupted development as the frontier town towards the southeast,
a development, which, as well as savage conditions illustrates the saying
that happy is the people who have no history. No great man, as we count
greatness, came from their wigwams. Almost the only notable site in the
vicinity is the large post oak at what is now the extreme northeast corner
of Wayne county, on the State line. Tradition says that there Geo. S. Gaines
and Pushmataha held one or more conferences. And yet the Yowanne Indians
are a favorable specimen of the Choctaws. While they hunted, they also
planted and developed considerable trading ability. Possibly the principal
feature of their story consists in the trading paths which stretched out
north, east, south and west from their town. Bernard Romans says that they
and their neighbors at Chickasahay were the only Choctaws who could swim;
but, while that tribe was not famous for love of water, either externally
or internally, no one now thinks so hardly of the other Choctaws as to
believe that slander.
The name itself is
an interesting study. As to what it means all are at sea. Gatschet2
would seem to endorse the story which they told Romans that the name had
something to do with the caterpillar or worm which eats the corn in wet
weather. We all
Migration Legend, p. 109.