The Strange Woman

A Choctaw Legend

It was in the olden times, and two Choctaw hunters were spending the night by their watchfire near a bend of the river Alabama.  The game and the fish of their country was, with every new moon, be- coming less abundant, and all that they had to satisfy their hunger on that nightwas the tough flesh of a black hawk. 

They were very tired, as they mused upon their unfortunate condition.  They were unhappy, as they thought of their hungry childrenback in the village.  They talked despondently.  But they roasted the bird before the fire, and proceeded to enjoy 
as comfortable a meal as they could. 

Hardly had they commenced eating before they were startled 
by a noise resembling the cooing of a dove.  They quickly stood 
and looked around them.  In one direction they saw nothing but 
the moon rising just above the forest trees on the opposite 
side of the river.  They looked up and down the river, but saw 
nothing but the sandy shores and the dark waters.  They 
listened, but nothing could they hear except the murmur of the flowing stream. 

They then turned their eyes in the direction opposite the moon, 
and to their astonishment they discovered, standing upon the 
summit of a grassy mound, the form of a beautiful woman.  They hastened to her side.  She told them she was very hungry, whereupon they retrieved their roasted hawk and placed it all into her soft hands. 

She barely tasted of the food, but told the hunters that their 
kindness had preserved her from death, and that she would not forget them when she returned to the happy grounds of her father, who was the Hosh-tah-li, Great Spirit of the Choctaws.  She had but one request to make, and this was that when the next moon of midsummer should arrive, they should visit the spot where now she stood. 

And then a pleasant breeze swept among the forest leves, and 
the strange woman suddenly vanished. 

The hunters were astonished, but they returned to their families, 
keeping all that they had seen and heard, hidden in their hearts. 

When the next moon of midsummer came, the hunters once 
more visited the mound on the banks of the Alabama.  They 
found it covered with a tall new plant whose leaves were like 
the knives of the white-man.  It yielded a delicious food which 
has since become known among the Choctaws as the sweet 
Ton-cha - Indian maze. 

Indian Stories, by Charles Lanman;  Published in the Southern Literary Messenger, Volume 15, 
Issue 7, Richmond, Virginia, 1849. 

Prepared for Early SW MS Territory by Ellen Pack


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