A Choctaw Introduction


Choctaw Moondate: Toffa, Takkon Hashi, Hashi Lohmi


Henry S. Halbert recorded this oral history from the Choctaw in the 1800s:
“With the Choctaws…[w]hen the sun began to get less in his brightness, and grew dark and obscure, they believed that some ethereal black squirrels of large size driven by hunger, had commenced eating him and were going to devour him. With this belief, they thought it was their duty to make every exertion they could to save the great luminary of day from being consumed by them.

Therefore, every person…who could make a noise, were called upon to join in the effort to drive the squirrels away. To do this they would begin in the same manner as persons generally do in trying to start a squirrel from a tree. Some would throw sticks towards the declining sun, whooping and yelling, at the same time shooting arrows
toward the supposed black squirrels.”

(Halbert, Box 4, Folder 10, Page 13, Henry S. Halbert Papers, 1821-1918)

Choctaw Moondate: Onáfa, Kowi̱chosh, First Quarter Ends

The first quarter of the Kowi̱chosh moon, the Choctaw month Kowi̱chosh, ends today at 1:47pm. The new year of the gregorian calendar began during this quarter. It was a very warm quarter until these past two days when daytime temperatures were below 5o degrees. There were thunderstorms on the warmest days with tornados in the region.

Many people made tobi hicha ta̱chpallaska, beans and cornbread, for the new year.

They used tobi nishkin losa, black-eyed peas, and cooked southern skillet cornbread; preferably with local milled ta̱chbota/ta̱chi poshi/ta̱shfotoha, cornmeal.

The old Choctaw definer names the corn mill, ta̱ch áfotohli.

Choctaw Moondate: Onáfa, Kowi̱chosh

The new Choctaw month Kowi̱chosh hashi started today at 12:54am.

Kowi̱chosh Hashninnak A̱ya Himóna, the Kowi̱chosh new moon is the 4th moon of the Choctaw long season onáfa. The time when the sun lays low in the sky to the south.

The previous quarter, which brought us the winter solstice, was warm in the Choctaw homeland. Today the temperatures are starting to lower back to a winter feel.

Kowi̱chosh has been translated as a small wildcat, and it more literally describes a smaller sibling of Kowi the panther. The wildcat is shakbatina.

Choctaw Moondate: Onáfa, Kowi Chito, First Quarter Ends

The first quarter of Kowi Chito ended at 3:02am this morning and it was an eventful quarter. The first day of Kowi Chito had major thunderstorms with high winds damaging a lot of the local flora, and then two tornados in the ancestral homelands. The middle of the quarter had some of the coldest mornings so far this onáfa season, with temperatures near freezing before dawn and a lot of frost. The quarter ended with a large storm system slowly moving over the homeland with steady rain. It was definitely the most active weather week of the entire season.

The ends of the days have been seeing the earliest sundown times, hashi ittolah, sunsethas been at 4:50pm for nearly the whole quarter, but the sun will actually start to set later in Choctawland after the first day of the next quarter.

It should also be noted that this quarter was the time when the Water Protectors at Standing Rock stopped the Dakota Access Pipeline from crossing the river on their lands.

Choctaw Moondate: Onáfa, Kowi Chito

Today at 6:18am is the new moon Kowi Chito. During Kowi Chito, Earth will reach it’s solstice and the modern winter season will begin at 4:44am on December 21st. Kowi Chito has been translated as lion, but in the Choctaw homeland it would have described a larger panther, or possibly a jaguar since the homeland is within the northern range of the jaguar.

The last quarter of the moon Hohchafo Chito brought the most visible changing of colors in the trees with temperatures ranging from cold to moderate in the mornings. The last day of the quarter had a much needed storm front and good rain for the region.

Kowi Chito is the third moon of the Choctaw long season onáfa.

The Choctaw long season has also been known as hashtolaHashtola, sun laying down, describes the sun as it is, lying low in the sky during these moons. The modern autumn season that is ending during this moon has been named onáfatiyaonáfapi, and hashtolahpi.

Hashi, the sun, will set at it’s earliest time 4:50pm, everyday for the entire first quarter of Kowi Chito. Hashi will continue rising later in the morning as the days continue to shorten until the solstice. In Choctawland the shortest days are just around 10 hours.