Push-ma-ta-ha. Chactan (Choctaw) Warrior, from History of the Indian Tribes of North America

Apushamatahah – A Choctaw Chief

The distinguished warrior and chief of the Choctaws, Apushamatahah, were born, as near as can be ascertained, in the year 1764. He was of the Iksa, called Kun-sha 1 Kunsha-a-he 2 is the full name of the clan, which took its name from the thick reeds and wild potatoes that grew together in the marshy ground along the banks of the creek Cane and Potato creek.

At an early age Apushamatahah 3 acquired great celebrity among his people as a brave warrior and successful hunter. His love for the fascinating excitement of the chase and daring adventures frequently led him into the deep solitudes of the then distant and wild forests west of the Mississippi river untrodden by the foot of the white man, to engage in hunting buffalo, a sport considered by the red man, and at a later period by the white also, as the noblest ever engaged in upon the North American continent. The buffalo, at that day, congregated in seemingly incredible numbers, and roamed over the entire wide extended western valley, grazing in countless multitudes upon the rich grasses of the vast prairies that extended before the vision to where earth and sky seemed to embrace. But now that noble game is numbered with the things of the past.

In those distant hunting expeditions and daring adventures, accompanied only by a small number of youthful and congenial spirits, Apushamatahah encountered many dangers and ended many privations “and hardships; which constituted, to the young free and independent Indian warrior and hunter, the veritable elixir of life, the ultimatum of earthly bliss.

Push-ma-ta-ha. Chactan (Choctaw) Warrior, from History of the Indian Tribes of North America
Push-ma-ta-ha. Chactan (Choctaw) Warrior, from History of the Indian Tribes of North America

At one time, while engaged in one of those hunts on Red river with a little party of Choctaw “braves,” his camp was unexpectedly and unceremoniously attacked, by a large band of Cal T lag-e-hah warriors, 4 and being-greatly outnumbered, Apushamatahah and his little party, after a brief skirmish, were totally defeated, and but few escaped, each taking care of himself. Apushamatahah, being one of the few, found himself alone. After experiencing great hardships and dangers in eluding the vigilance of his wily enemies, he fortunately stumbled upon a Spanish settlement, in which he remained many months, hunting for the Spaniards, and secretly preparing his plans for revenge against the Callagehahs for their unceremonious attack upon his camp, and which he successfully executed, as the sequel will show. At this time (1793) Missouri, Kansas and Arkansas were under Spanish Dominion.

After he had thoroughly laid his plans of revenge, he bade his Spanish employers a formal adieu, and started for his distant and long absent home by devious paths, until he came upon a camp of his enemies, the Callagehahs, upon which he rushed at night with the ferocity of a tiger, and slew seven of its occupants and secured their scalps, ere they could recover from their surprise; then shouting back his war-whoop of defiance, he fled with the nimble feet of the antelope, directing his course homeward, where he, in the course of several weeks safely arrived, to the astonishment and joy of his relatives, who had regarded him among the number of the slain, who had fallen on the fatal night of the raid made upon their camp by the Callagehahs. He remained at home two or three years, but had not forgotten the: attack made upon his hunting camp in the distant solitudes of the forests west of the Mississippi river, and the death of his comrades; while his proud spirit still chafed under the imagined disgrace of his defeat, he yearned to punish the Callagehahs still more severely for their audacity and insult; therefore, he again started with a select company of warriors for his enemies territories; where again surprising one of their unsuspecting camps he slew three warriors without sustaining loss; after which he withdrew from the Callagehahs country, but remained west of the Mississippi river for several months in the fascinating amusements of the chase, that exciting occupation that renders the hunter, both red and white, oblivious to all else. Again he returned home with his little band; yet his restless spirit could not rest in activity longer than a few weeks; and once more, with another little company of congenial spirits of about twenty-five in number, he started for the land of his foes and was gone several months, when he again returned home with a dozen or more Callagehah scalps, without the loss of a single one of his little party. He remained at home, after this exploit, nearly a year, then again, but for the last time, sought the distant territories of the Callagehahs with another band of his warriors; again fortune smiled upon her seemingly chosen favorite; for he struck another death dealing blow, obtaining many scalps, then bade the unfortunate Callagehahs a final adieu, returned to his native land with his warriors, and annoyed them no more.

The Choctaws and Muskogee’s, in years long past, were proverbial enemies, and hated each other with uncompromising bitterness; therefore, embraced every opportunity to manifest their hostility the one toward the other. On an occasion a party of Muskogee’s secretly entered the Choctaw territories and, among other depredations committed on their devious route, they burned the house of Apushamata-hah, who, with his family, was absent from home engaged in his favorite amusement a grand ball play. As soon as he returned home and found it a heap of smoking ruins, and learned who had committed the mischief, he at once collected a company of warriors and sought the Muscogee Nation with the same determination and resolution that he had previously sought that of the Callagehahs; and when arrived, he repaid them ten fold for the destruction of his home. Many years afterward Apushamatahah was the first Choctaw chief who led a war party of 800 warriors against the Muscogees in what is known as the Creek War of 1812.Citations:

  1. A reed the name of the creek along whose banks the Kun-sha Clan dwelt.[]
  2. reed potato[]
  3. For the sake of brevity the ubi is dropped[]
  4. Callage-hah is evidently a corruption of the words, Chah lih hihla, (fast dancers). These Indians may possibly have been a clan of the Choctaws before they left Mexico, and afterwards followed on to join the main body, but never crossed the Mississippi river, hence became forever lost from the parent stock[]

Cushman, Horatio Bardwell. History Of The Choctaw, Chickasaw and Natchez Indians. Greenville, Texas: Headlight Printing House. 1899

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