Welcome to Native ChocTalk

Season 1

S2, E15: “The Edwards Store, The Treaty of Dancing Rabbit Creek & A Woman Named Sukky: Chrissy Gray Dickmeyer, Choctaw”

The year was 1830. Up to 6,000 Choctaws gathered each day. White observers also decided to come along. Cattle was butchered to feed the masses, supplies were set up in tents and all were anxious to observe what was to come.

Gambling tables were provided - an activity that opened the door to brawls. Tables were knocked over amongst the fights and many were bullied by trigger-happy troublemakers. On the other hand, Christian services took place amongst the chaos. The Choctaw danced throughout the night, then retired in camps along Dancing Rabbit Creek, while the whites encamped in random spots.

The most notable of the Choctaw were present - Chiefs Greenwood LeFlore, Mushulatubbee, and Nittakechi, Choctaw warrior, Hopaii Ishkitini and many others.

But this was no celebration. The most significant treaty between the US Government and the Choctaw was to be negotiated and signed on September 27th, 1830 at this very site. These signatures meant the Choctaw would be surrendering 11 million Mississippi acres, the removal to Indian Territory imminent. The lives and futures of the Choctaw people would be changed forever.

Amongst these goings on, there once lived a prominent Choctaw woman named Sukky who lived with her husband and 2 kids just up the hill from the Treaty grounds. What did Sukky have to do with these events?

My guest, Chrissy Gray Dickmeyer is a descendant of Sukky and reads to us about a perspective around the gathering of the Choctaw during the signing of The Treaty of Dancing Rabbit Creek and the struggle she must have faced with the guests she had to host in her home.

But there’s even more…Chrissy also reads to us about the stories of The Edwards Store – a historic trading post that’s been in her family for 170 years! This trading post, nestled among the beautiful San Bois Mountains in Oklahoma, was absolutely essential for the Choctaw. And we’ll also talk about how molasses was a staple by the gallon!

YOU are invited to come visit The Edwards Store, see this living piece of history for yourself, sip on some sweet tea and sit a spell.

Oh and one more thing. Chrissy and I discuss something very important. What REALLY IS in the panhandle of Oklahoma? Okies, you know what I’m sayin’, right?

Native ChocTalk Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/nativechoctalkpodcast

All Podcast Episodes: https://nativechoctalk.com/podcasts/

S2, E14: “The Mystery of the Train Ride to Indian Territory”: Jennifer Story (Choctaw, Tewa, Ohkay Owingeh Pueblo & Oglala Lakota)”

There are many mysteries out there - many that will never be solved. And some mysteries are so frustrating, they’ll leave a gap in your soul. One of those such puzzles in life is that of we American Indians trying to figure out the stories and history of our ancestors.

When non-Natives are searching for their families of yesteryear, they typically can hop on ancestry.com or other genealogy site and find tree after tree of their ancestors from the 1500s in England, or the records of those landing on Ellis Island or the history of family members migrating from the east coast to the west to search for gold, and so on.

But for us, our ancestors didn’t keep many records – at least, not that we can easily access today. Most of our history is passed down by oral tradition, often disappearing over time with each generation. So centuries of our own stories have never be heard or are incorrectly told by now. We often long to connect in some way with those family members of the past, so that we can understand more about their world and about ourselves…and so they’re never forgotten.

My guest today – Jennifer Story - posed a mystery to me as we were preparing ahead of time for today’s episode. She stated that as many Choctaws from Mississippi were being removed to Indian Territory (on what’s now known as the “Trail of Tears”), she was baffled by the question that kept coming to her mind - why were her Choctaw ancestors removed many years later than the others?

Ironically, a few years back, I had read a paper written by a woman named Deanna Byrd who is a Historical Archeologist. Jennifer’s question triggered a memory from the content of that paper. And even more ironically, Deanna was releasing a documentary around the same time of our recording, filmed by my friend, Mark Williams (you may have heard Mark on the stickball episode, Season 2, Episode 5, Pt 2). Between the time of our preparation and the actual recording, Mark and Deanna had led us to the right information and the mystery had been solved. (Yakoke, friends!)

Listen to today’s episode to hear about this mystery unraveled and solved!

You’ll also learn about:

  • A man named Bear Heart
  • Some unlikely next-door neighbors
  • What Jennifer learned as she cared for her ill brother
  • Stories of Jennifer playing a dancer in the movie, “Killers of the Flower Moon” (guess whose famous actress’ shoes Jennifer was given to wear in the movie!)
  • How her legendary Aunt Esther single-handedly saved the Tewa language
  • Hear what famous actor attended Aunt Esther’s funeral
  • Jennifer and I had such a fun time, so you may hear quite a dose of laughter from us Choctaw gals

Native ChocTalk Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/nativechoctalkpodcast

All Podcast Episodes: https://nativechoctalk.com/podcasts/

S2, E13: “Choctaws & The Making of Hochatown: Meet Shauna Williams, Choctaw”

Enchanting historic roads wind through the miles of evergreen trees in the Kiamichi Mountains of southeastern Oklahoma. The trembling autumn leaves tinted in colors of gold and rust drift to the earth with the Oklahoma wind, whispering the tales of those who have come and gone.

The Caddo Indians would be pushed out of their region in the early 1800s by those Choctaw who had survived the Trail of Tears, removed from their original homelands of Mississippi, Louisiana and Arkansas and placed in this new land in Indian Territory. The original bustling town, filled with busy Choctaws going about their day is now under water. Big Foot, who supposedly once ventured through the hills seeking food, faded into but a legend. The bootleggers who honed their skills creating, drinking and selling hooch along the riverbeds of the dark forests, slowly gave way to roads, shops and tourists (or did they?).

I turned to a Choctaw expert who grew up near Hochatown, Shauna Williams to learn more about this mysteriously beautiful part of the state and the comings and goings of such fascinating people, hairy creatures and moving towns. I also asked about the many fun things to do in Hochatown with kids, family or a significant other - from warm fireplaces in lovely cabins nestled in the woods, to adventures for the kids, to camping, to Big Foot hunting and more!

Shauna is in Construction Project Management across our Tribal Reservation as Director of Real Estate Development for the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma (since then, she received a promotion to Executive Director of Communications – congrats, Shauna!). The day I visited with Hochatown at the Choctaw Nation Community Center, there was a big announcement coming that was top secret, and a celebration was even taking place that evening. You can only imagine how intrigued I was. Over the next couple of days, I’ll share more!

By the way, I think I’ve found yet another look-alike within the Choctaw Nation. If you were to get Shauna, as well as Choctaw Prosecutor, Kara Bacon and myself together, you’d wonder if you were looking at triplets – or at least sisters!

I’m excited for you to hear this week’s episode about beautiful Hochatown, which is east of the Mountain Fork River in southeastern Oklahoma! Today you’ll hear about:

• The history of Hochatown and how it got its name
• Our Choctaw influence in Hochatown
• Why this town is deemed the “Moonshine capital of Oklahoma”*
• Big Foot. Yep. He’s here, y’all. And no one loves Big Foot more than the people of Hochatown!
• Is the original town now really under 200 feet of water?
• Hear Shauna’s own ancestral history and why her uncle had to hide out in the mountains of Smithville.
• FYI, Hochatown is near Broken Bow, so you’ll often hear both names.
• *Shauna and I can neither confirm nor deny if hooch is still being made in the mountain woods…

I hope you’ll enjoy, and if you’ve been to Hochatown, feel free to post photos to my Native ChocTalk Facebook page. Yakoke! https://www.facebook.com/nativechoctalkpodcast

All Podcast Episodes: https://nativechoctalk.com/podcasts/

S2, E12: “The Strength of the American Indian Woman: Inspiration for Women’s History Month, Rachael Youngman, Native ChocTalk Podcaster”

I was recently asked to speak with some inspiring 6th through 12th graders - young ladies of an Oklahoma Native American boarding school that’s near and dear to my heart.

After eating dinner with these intelligent (and fun) gals, many of them eager for their next steps and about to head into the adult world, I talked about Women’s History Month and what it means for us as Native American women.

“How many of you can name at least one famous American Indian Chief?”, I asked. Many of the girls blurted out multiple names of Chiefs that both Natives and non-Natives could easily recall.

“And now, outside of Pocahontas and Sacagawea, can you name some notable American Indian women from history?” The room was silent, as they each started to scan the room for their counterparts who may know. Perhaps they were thinking, “Surely there are several significant Native women we can talk about, right?”

It’s not that these important women don’t exist, they’re just not as well documented and certainly aren’t as well known. Think about it. Can YOU name a few?

Don’t worry, there’s no judgement here and I’ll save you some time – check out this list for starters, from powwow.com, “20 Native American Women You Should Know”: https://www.powwows.com/20-native-american-women-you-should-know/

I went back to my computer later after I met with these ladies and recorded what was in my presentation so that you may also take a listen. I hope you’ll share this episode with your female friends and family members, daughters, nieces, students and so on. It may be a good way for them to start thinking about their own futures and the preservation of the stories of their female ancestors.

In this episode, I share about my own story – the struggles and the successes (cliff notes version of Native ChocTalk’s Episode 1, Season 2). And I delve into the story of the Choctaw woman, Ella Davis, who was given up to a white guardian when she was only 3 years old, and was treated as one of a few slaves in the household. I also tell her of her mother and her mother’s mother, who if you didn’t really take time to peel back the “layers of the onion” of their stories, you’d think they were neglectful and uncaring mothers.

The strength of these women should be one for the history books. And yet their stories, and that of many other Native women in history are rarely preserved. The journeys they made and the struggles they faced have been forgotten – even discarded, like dust in the wind.

And now it is up to us, to both learn about and preserve the stories of those females who came before us. And it is also now our time to make history too!

I thank you, my sisters – both past and present, and those young ladies I met with from the boarding school. I am so proud of you already. I know you will go into the world, work hard, pave your own way, break historical trauma cycles that may be looming and inspire those around you. Maybe someday you will be a guest I’ll be interviewing at Native ChocTalk. And perhaps we’ll be reading about YOU when it comes to Women’s History Month! Please know, I am cheering you on and I will be here for you along your journey.

A special thank you to the ladies’ Dorm Manager at the school and for suggesting this chance to visit with these future generations. I’m inspired by the sincere love you have for these girls.


All Podcast Episodes: https://nativechoctalk.com/podcasts/

Native ChocTalk Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/nativechoctalkpodcast

S2, E11: “When Past Meets Present: Jake Tiger (Seminole) on Living & Preserving the Traditional Seminole Way of Life”

“Be proud of who you are because your existence is a resistance against cultural genocide.”
- Jake Tiger, Seminole

At the opening of the First Americans Museum in Oklahoma City, I saw someone I recognized. Actually, his back was turned to me, so I didn’t recognize him from his face, but from his Seminole clothing and the plume in his hat. I recalled that he was the Seminole textiles expert I follow on Facebook.

I took a photo of him looking at the displays, because my sister and I agreed that the scene looked like the past meeting the present. Then I approached him. Listen to the episode to hear what came next...

He’s the Seminole from Seminole, Oklahoma who works for the Seminole Nation. Can he even get more Seminole? Meet Jake Tiger, y’all!

In addition to being a Seminole Jake is also:
• A subject matter expert on (and he creates/sews/crafts) Seminole textiles and traditional garments:
   o Did you know in the old days, it cost 16 deer hides to buy 1 flintlock rifle and 2 deer hides for 1 yard of calico fabric?
   o Hear about Jake’s grandpa who was the leading expert in Seminole textiles, and the revelation that came to Jake upon his grandpa’s death
• An actor in films and commercials. Check him out in Killers of the Flower Moon, Reservation Dogs and more. Listen to find out which character he was forced to play when he lost in rock, paper, scissors.
• A knowledgeable resource on ancient Native tattooing
• Someone you’d really want to know if the world came to an end. He shares about:
  o How bear intestines are good for bow string
  o How to use bear grease
  o Flint knapping
  o Brain tanning, which came with a warning to not eat while you’re listening to this episode. “You’ll never look at strawberry milk the same again.” – Jake Tiger
• A descendent of 2 war chiefs – Black Hawk (Sac and Fox) and Osceola
• Like a capybara (listen to find out why)

Experts like Jake who are inspired by the past, bring beautiful representations of our Native history to life by bringing these historic textiles into the present, ensuring the cultural genocide that began long ago will no longer thrive. The past sometimes meets the present. And when it does, it’s a way to connect with our ancestors and to those who came before us.

Thank you, Jake for helping us feel and experience this connection with the past!

All Podcast Episodes: https://nativechoctalk.com/podcasts/

Native ChocTalk Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/nativechoctalkpodcast

Native ChocTalk
Native ChocTalk is an informative and educational podcast and resource center.


Be A Sponsor

To be a sponsor, contact Rachael Youngman at [email protected]