Collection: Life Among the Choctaw Indians

Political Strife and Discord

There were warring elements and fierce conflicts of long standing and of the most virulent and uncompromising character in the Cherokee nation. Their troubles originated in the change of their system of government from a heathen and hereditary oligarchy to a democratic republic. Before they emigrated to the west they had thrown off pagan and traditional rites, ceremonies, and prerogatives. They had chosen John Ross to be their chief. About two-thirds of the tribe favored the new system of government, which went into immediate operation. The opposi­tion was headed by Captain Ridge, who had a birthright to power under the

Religious Awakening

During the latter part of the winter and in the spring many of the students became deeply serious, manifesting an increasing interest in the services of religion; they were very eager to read and understand the teachings of the New Testament. Mr. Page would converse, sing, and pray with them in their own language. His services were of incalculable value, very far surpassing those of an ordinary interpreter; for he was himself a minister with a good understanding of the saving truths of the Gos­pel. If we failed to present the truth in terms suited to their but partially enlightened

Biography of Mrs. Sarah B. Goode

Before closing these sketches it is our duty to mention particularly one member of our mission family who has recently departed this life, in the faith and hope of the Gospel. In preparing this little volume there has been a studious effort to avoid any unnecessary mention of ourselves or family. We had no desire to obtrude personal affairs or an undue share of self upon the attention of the reader. A simple record of facts required more than was desirable in this regard. But as Mrs. Goode has finished her course with joy and has entered upon her blissful

Tahlequah, The Cherokee Capital

Tahlequah is situated a few miles from the Neosho river, and fifteen miles from Fort Gibson, in the center of a rich and densely populated portion of the nation. It was first chosen as council-ground, and sub­sequently made the permanent seat of Government of the tribe. Its location and surroundings rendered it by far the most important place in the nation. Park Hill was in the vicinity, Fairfield and Dwight missions were near. There was a Methodist church in sight of the village; a school-house also. There was an excellent brick court-house, well and conveniently arranged. At the time of

Conference Session

On Wednesday morning we met at Riley’s Chapel, one mile from Tahlequah, standing out in the open prairie. We could not discover the wisdom of the location. Bishop Morris was present, and opened the conference with the reading of the Scriptures, singing and prayer. W. H. Goode and H. C. Benson were elected Secretaries. The Indian Mission conference had been created by the General conference which had closed its session in the month of June preceding. We were now met to organize and hold the first session; the preachers bad formerly been members of the Missouri and the Arkansas conferences,

Our Work

May first, 1845, had been ushered in; our third crop of grain and vegetables was growing finely. During the preceding winter the farm had been enlarged and materially improved, the most of the labor having been performed by the students. We had also inclosed a pasture at the upper end of the cane­brake, between the farm and the river. Having purchased a few cows, we were prepared to live more comfortably than at any time before. The buildings at New Hope were inclosed, and would be completed in time to receive female pupils at the commencement of the next session.

Persecuted Missionaries

Revs. Mr. Worcester and Dr. Butler, it will be remembered, were Presbyterian ministers, sent out as missionaries to labor with the Cherokee Indians, while they were still upon their reserved lands east of the Mississippi river. They entered upon their work in the year 1825, while themselves and families were comparatively young. Having labored successfully a few years, the General Government determined to purchase the Indian reserved lands, and remove the Cherokees to new territory on the frontiers west of the Mississippi. The first overtures on the part of the United States authorities were treated with indifference, amounting almost to

Reverend Mr. Fisk, Indian Preacher

On the seventh day of November two Indians came to Fort Coffee to visit the Academy and to make the acquaintance of those who were laboring in connec­tion with it. Rev. Mr. Fisk was a full-blood Choctaw, a member of the Presbyterian Church, and an assistant at one of the missions on Red river. He had been on a visit to Park Hill, and had returned by the way of our mission. In the evening we assembled the family in the chapel for religious worship, as Mr. Fisk had consented to preach to the students. His text was the sixteenth

Progress in Study

Various and conflicting have been the opinions entertained with regard to the intellect of the North American Indians. They are generally reputed to be shrewd, cunning, sprightly, and fluent in speech. It must occur to every reflecting mind, however, that there must be great diversity as to intellect among the different classes, and that habits and pursuits of life have an important bearing upon the question. Much depends upon physical organization, and modes of living naturally affect the conformation and development of the several organs of the body. The Choctaws were fairly developed and well proportioned in body, but not

Death of Oakchiah

On the second day of November a lad came from Fort Smith with a note from a Mr. Moore, informing us that Oakchiah, the Indian preacher, had just died at his house, and he wished instructions with regard to his interment. Mr. Goode wrote to Mr. Moore to have the corpse decently buried, and to forward the bill of expenses to our mission, and it should be paid. It was accordingly done. A brief sketch of this native minister of Christ may not be wholly devoid of interest to the reader. He was a full-blooded Choctaw, born in the old