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Legends of the Choctaw Nation remembered

In stories collected by Henry S. Halbert in the 19th century regarding the beliefs of the Choctaws, supernatural beings are mentioned, such as Kashehotapalo, a combination of man and deer who delights in frightening hunters, Okwa Nahola (or Oka Nahullo), "white people of the water," who dwell in deep pools and have light skins like the skins of trout and sometimes capture human beings whom they convert into beings like themselves; Hoklonote' she, a bad spirit who can assume any shape he desires and is able to read man's thoughts; Nalusa Falaya, "the Long Black Being,: which resembles a man, but has small eyes and long, pointed ears and sometimes frightens hunters or even communicates its own power of doing harm; and Hashok Okwa Hui'ga, "grass water drop," which seems to have some connection with the will-o'-the-wisp. Its heart only is visible and that only at night, and if one looks at it he is led astray. Ishkitini, the horned owl, was believed to prowl about at night killing men and animals. This sinister character was undoubtedly due to the association of the bird with witchcraft.

One Choctaw named Simpson Tubby claimed that the jack-o'-lantern was called "nightmare" by the Indians (and) was believed to plait up the tails of horses during the night and to ride them about until they could hardly be used next day and many died from the effects. They also upset a horse's stomach so that an Indian doctor had to be called in to treat him.

The sapsucker (biskinik) is the "newsbird". He brings news both bad and good. If he lights on a tree in your lot early in the morning, some "hasty" news will come before noon. If he does this late at night, the news will come before morning.

They believed that the chicken had been put into their yards to give them a friendly warning of danger. If a chicken crows outside of its usual time, it is because it foresees bad weather. If one comes up to the doorstep or into the gallery and crows, it means hasty news. If a chicken files up on the roost and crows after reaching it, there will be trouble in the family. If a hen crows, that means that the women of the neighborhood are going to fall out.

The old Choctaw claimed that the male eel acted also as the male of catfish and fish of other kinds. If one had intercourse with a female eel, the offspring would naturally be eels; if with a mud catfish, the offspring would be blue catfish; if with any scale fish, the young would be channel catfish. It was claimed the different species of fish were made by intermarriages.

They claimed that though the blacksnake would not harm anyone, it would try to scare a person. The coachwhip snake would wrap itself around a person and whip him with its tail, and if a hawk tried to carry one of these serpents off, it would whip him until the feathers flew and make him let it go.

The world "Nahullo" (something supernatural or sacred), which appears above, was probably a generic term applied to spirits that had never existed as human beings, although Cushman speaks of them as a race of gigantic hunters who lived in western Tennessee and the northern parts of Alabama and Mississippi at the period of the Choctaw immigration. Later the term was applied to the white people, probably on account of the lightness of their skin.