Visit To A Choctaw Camp

by Rev. William Graham

The Ladies' repository: a monthly periodical, devoted to literature, arts, and religion.
Volume 8, Issue 9 
Methodist Episcopal Church [etc.].
Cincinnati, Sept 1848

Making of America

Visit To A Choctaw Camp

by Rev. William Graham

IN the month of June, during the summer of 1846, about two hundred Choctaw immigrants arrived within the bounds of the Indian territory, from the old nation in the state of Mississippi, and camped about five miles from the school where the writer
was then located, in the northeast part of the Choctaw nation. The pupils of the institution had several times intimated their desire to see their strange brethren, when the writer and his colleague set out on a sunny Saturday afternoon, with about fortyfive Choctaw boys, on our way to the camp. It was one of those calm, hot days, which, in that region of country, continue, with little variation, for four or five months each year; and which render the climate so oppressive to a person from a northern country.

After traveling some four miles, we reached a branch of pure water. Here the boys, in accordance with the Indian custom under such circumstances, strung themselves along the meandering rivulet, as their own singular fancy might dictate,
and went through a bathing process. This consisted of repeated applications of water to the face, head, neck, and arms, until they were thoroughly cooled.

On reaching the camp, we found, with very few exceptions, the squaws busily engaged. Some were beating corn for tomfuller, (a kind of hommony [sic],) some in plaiting baskets of cane, and others in cooking.  While the men were loitering around. Some grazing their ponies; one was making a rude attempt to extort music from an old violin; but as the day was
exceedingly hot, most of them were extended upon the green grass beneath the shadowy boughs of the tall forest trees.

Among them were some peculiarly striking, which attracted my attention, and excited inquiry. This was conducted by the aid of my school interpreter, John.  One of these was an aged female. The coarse hair of her uncovered head was white as wool, her face was deeply furrowed over with age, and her eyesight was entirely gone. Her age she could not tell; but she could relate, with an agitated voice, circumstances of her early life.

Another object which attracted my attention, was a very odd being, and rude in appearance, but it was human. It was apparently young, but very bulky;  unable to walk, or even to move the slightest distance;  deprived of the use of its puny arms; deaf, dumb, and almost blind; and apparently destitute of the least particle of human understanding. It was emphatically 
the most pitiable object upon which the writer has ever been called to look. But the circumstance which rendered the scene most striking was the fact that invalids of this class are rarely, if
ever, found among the Indians in their native state.  Parents destroy their children early if they are likely never to be able to pursue their roving habits of life without becoming an encumbrance. But in this case the glorious light of Revelation had dawned upon the minds of the parents, the effect of which, in all cases, is the relief of suffering humanity. And however 
imperfectly it was understood in this case, it had impressed the commandment, "Thou shalt not kill."

A third object must become, on account of his superior claims and the length of the present article, the subject of my next; so, gentle reader, adieu for the present.

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