Apisa Untuklo

"Lesson Seven"
Okpulot Taha

okokkoahni bok falammi imma issi tuklo ontukafa hosh nipi ishi tuk

north of surprise creek he got meat by shooting two deer.

From Eagletown a trailway led to Hochatown, a distance of fifteen miles, which extended north along Mountain Fork River for six miles. In that distance the trail crossed Mountain Fork River six times, the last crossing being to the north side at the confluence of Surprise Creek; thence along the course of Surprise Creek northwest, gradually reaching the top of a small mountain, after which the trailway led off in a northwest direction through an open wooded flat, at Felikatubbi's place (now Bethel). On an occasion whilst traveling this trailway to Hochatown, on reaching the flat wooded country herein described, a little before sundown, seeing three deer and killing two of them I placed them on my horse's back and continued towards Hochatown, fording Mountain Fork River six times. Meeting Pierce Homa, a full blood who had hunted all day without killing any game, I gave him one of my deer. Pierce Homa was a brother of Cornelius, Silas and Wallace Homa, and had lived at my father's home, which was the old Cyrus Byington place. He and I had played together as boys.

Remininscences by Peter J. Hudson
Chronicles of Oklahoma   Volume 12, No. 3   September, 1934   Page 296

Eagletown is my birthplace and my hometown. During my childhood I walked this trail many times, sometimes rode one of our mules or our horse. This trail is all but vanished these days. You can still find this trail not by a foot worn path rather by common sense. This trail is the most easy way through pine forests, back and forth across Mountain Fork river and on northward. This trail is gone but common sense lives on. Use common sense and you will walk this age old trail.

Hudson uses a name, "Homa", which is today, "Homma". I do not know when this extra "m" was added. I do not know but what Hudson spelled this name incorrectly. During my childhood, Homa or Homma descendants still lived near Mountain Fork river, near where a modern roadway bridge passes over this river. Jinci Homma and Flora Homma lived down a dirt road in this area. Flora was the meanest and most murderous woman of McCurtain County. A nightmare for children. I believe I shared a story of Flora back there in your lessons. You may think my stories of old are silly but those stories are tied to our Choctaw history. Those stories help you to understand our American Indian culture.

Cyrus Byington up there is, of course, the author of your Choctaw dictionary. Byington lived in my hometown, long ago.

This is useless trivia. Under this modern day bridge, I suppose modern, been there for over half a century, under this bridge spanning Mountain Fork river is our favorite swimming hole. I was arrested there for running around drunk and naked with friends. They ran, made good their escape, I did not have enough common sense to run or maybe I am too respectful of law to run. We were drinking white lightning, skinny dipping, having a good time. Turned out just fine, I was taken into custody, photographed nude, then released later after I sobered up.

I am sure you are aware a few hundreds years back, a thousand years back, five-thousand years back, Choctaw nor other American Indian tribes used our English words, "North", "South", "East" nor "West". You will not use those words. Using those words dishonors our tradtions, dishonors our ancestors and dishonors you and your family. Those words are shameful words imposed by Christians. I will use those words to help you understand because you are not a Choctaw speaker. If you were a Choctaw speaker, you probably would not be here. Once you learn our words, stop using those vulgar words. You well know our tradition in speaking is to describe things. Cardinal directions are no exception. Each direction describes what to expect, what to look for. There is a need for a description to be based upon something constant, something which does not change and is easy to recognize.

Ancient Choctaw are known to be sun worshippers. Our sun is important for cardinal directions. This you know.

falammi  - root word is  falama  which means to travel back and forth or to oscilliate. This is a sense of a thing traveling to a location then returning from this location. As summer approaches our sun appears to travel northward. As winter approaches our sun appears to travel southward. Our sun travels back and forth. Our "falama" is where our sun travels to and returns from. "Falammi" describes how our sun "travels" over a course of four seasons.

oka mali  - refers to events which are easy to notice and are constant. You know "oka" means "water" and you know "mali" means "wind". What do you suppose is "water wind"? You need to know our tribe's history. A thousand or so years back, Choctaw predominately lived in our Deep South, Mississippi, Louisiana, Georgia and general region. Have you figured this out? Water Wind - Hurricane. Down there where hurricanes come from, this is south.

hashi akuchaka  - you already know "hashi" means "sun". Root word for "akuchaka is  kucha  which means to "rise from" or to "come from". Literal then is, "sun, rise from" which refers to "sunrise" - place where our sun rises.

hashi aiitolaka  - again, "hashi" is "sun". Root word for "aiitolaka" is  itola  which means "to fall" or "to rest". Literal is "sun, to fall" or "sun, to rest". This refers to "sunset" - place where our sun sets.

Easy enough to understand directions when you think like an Indian. Where our sun goes during summer, where hurricanes come from, where our sun rises and where our sun sets, all of those are easy to notice, are constant for millions of years and are clearly more reliable than maps and those stupid GPS systems which are highly inaccurate. Why on earth would you need to know more than which direction to travel?

  oka mali 
  oak-ah mahth-leh
  hashi akuchaka 
  hah-sheeh ah-kou-chah-kah
  hashi aiitolaka 
  hah-sheeh eye-eh-toh-lah-kah

  okokkoahni bok falammi imma issi tuklo ontukafa hosh nipi ishi tuk
  north of surprise creek he got meat by shooting two deer.

1 [okokkoahni] 2 [bok] 3 [falammi imma] 4 [issi] 5 [tuklo] 6 [ontukafa] 7 [hosh] 8 [nipi] 9 [ishi] 10 [tuk]

1 [surprise] 2 [creek] 3 [north of] 4 [deer] 5 [two] 6 [to shoot] 7 [by] 8 [meat] 9 [to get] 10 [past tense]

  okokkoahni bok falammi imma issi tuklo ontukafa hosh nipi ishi tuk

  okokkoahni bok falammi imma issi tuklo ontukafa hosh nipi ishi tuk

You should notice subtle differences in my voice rhythm and my enunciation of select words between my regular version and my slow version, perhaps even notice a difference between my slow version and my medium version. My regular speaking version is my typical "singing" of my native tongue. Some sounds are smoother and more "musical" than my slower versions.

Most noticable in my regular singing voice is a slight pause on "hosh" which, for topic context, means "by" - she did this by doing that. You should also notice I lengthen "hosh" for all three versions. Although this is learned habit there is a reason for emphasis upon "hosh" in my speaking.

This reason for a pause upon and lengthening of "hosh" is this word behaves like a connector between two sentences or more specifically, a connector between two topics. There are two topics in my sentence. One topic is shooting deer. Other topic is gathering meat. Shooting deer explains gathering of meat. Our word "hosh" is NOT like "but" nor "also" in English, this usage is not a conjunction like in English.

Follow along, this is a tad bit confusing but you need to begin learning grammar rules. We use "hosh" to connect two verbs and to set a context of third person. There are two verbs in my sentence. Those verbs are "to shoot" and "to get". There is a need for "shoot" and "get" to be associated. My "shoot" explains "get".

cause --> result
shoot deer --> get meat.

Third person takes you way back to my strongly encouraging you to memorize passive, dative and active voices. This also takes you way back to my strongly encouraging you to memorize all those personal pronouns. We use "hosh" to set a third person context. A third person voice is when we talk about a person who is not present: "Taha is at work. She is a crazy English professor." This is third person, Taha is not present.

Chahta anumpa "hosh" associates verbs and associates two or more topics. Our "hosh" also sets "third person". Use of "hosh" does not set a gender. This person of whom I speak can be female or male. My use of "he" for interpretation is simply to conform to English standards - masculine sexism. You may add "ohoyo" for "woman" or add "hatak" for man. Use of personal name is more typical when most everyone knows this person.

You are also to carefully listen again to "issi" - deer   and "ishi" - to get. Those two words sound very much alike but there is a subtle difference which is easy to miss when listening to a fast speaker.

Those two words, issi and ishi, sound like a difference between "she" and "he". You will need to train your ears to detect this subtle difference between an "S" sound and an "H" sound. Those two sounds become much alike when singing our tongue, and you will eventually need to learn how to sing our words; we do not speak, we sing.

Written far back, pay attention to context first, then pay attention to individual words. Catching context will help you catch this difference between words which sound a lot alike. Context first, words second.

Last note is about traditional Choctaw compared to modern Choctaw. I say "ontukafa" meaning "to shoot". Charley Jones says "nahlhli" meaning "to shoot". Our "ontukfa" means "shot with a gun" usually past tense. Our "nahlnli" means "to wound" usually present tense. "tuk" makes this past tense. Root word is "nali" with "L" aspirated, which is to wound or to sting. Nonetheless, modern Choctaw has "nahlhli" meaning "to shoot". You must be prepared for differences like this, traditional tongue versus modern tongue.

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