Season 1, Episode 10: “You Won’t Find This in the History Books: Solomon Tonihka, Choctaw”

Did you know that at one time, “Mexican bandits” rode through Oklahoma’s Choctaw country and tried to take down the tribe? The Choctaws banded together and killed their enemies, allowing their bodies to float down the river.

I once spoke to my guest, Solomon Tonihka, Choctaw about this and other stories his family had passed down over time, one ancestor to another, the traditional oral way that Native Americans have preserved their stories and history for centuries. And these are things you just won’t find in the history books.

Solomon once told that story of the “Mexican bandits” to a white historian (who studied and taught American Indian history). The historian said he didn’t know of Mexican people riding through the area in that time frame so he told him it couldn’t be true. So Solomon said to me, “I just figured it’s something I should never talk about again then.” To which I replied, “I hope to someday provide an outlet for you to share these stories, if you’d like.” Shortly after, I started Native ChocTalk.

In a culture where not much is written on paper, these oral histories are some of the few things our Indigenous people have to hold onto. And many times, they’re unwilling to share, careful to protect this precious history. I meet with many Natives who will tell me crucial and interesting history of their people but then say, “But don’t tell anyone.” I understand and respect their decision to hold those stories close. So I consider it an honor when folks like Solomon are open to these discussions and the willingness to share with you, our listeners.

I hope you’ll enjoy this conversation with my friend, Solomon as we discuss both history and folklore that you won’t find in the history books, from deep in the heart of Choctaw country in Wright City, Oklahoma!

Hear about:

  • Solomon as a first language (Choctaw) speaker, detailing stories in Mississippi Choctaw dialect
  • The Steel family homestead – a Sooner family with 40 acres right next to the Tonihka allotments
  • Choctaw folklore (“folklore” according to some) such as big foot, shape shifters and witches
  • Could there once have been mermaids in Oklahoma?
  • Take a ride with me around Solomon and his family’s 160 acres – their original Native land allotments
  • Stickball of old and the blood that was spilled nearby
  • The family graveyard on the Tonihka property
  • Banaha and Indian frybread like you’ve never heard about it before

Yakoke for sharing, Solomon!