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/