My Great Grandpa 
Was An Indian Scout

Geary Smith 

© Copyright 2002 by Geary Smith 
Photograph of a fern.  Copyright (c) 2003 by Richard Loller.

My Great Grandpa was an Indian Scout is about a young Choctaw Indian boy, and his trek from Mississippi to Oklahoma. I got the idea from visiting my grandmother, who informed me that her father was a full-blooded Choctaw Indian, not an African American, as I had falsely presumed. Since I rarely find any children stories about Native Americans in my local library, I thought it would be good to write about my ancestors, as well as, bring a new culture to many children. This is not a simultaneous submission, exclusive to Lee and Low Books.

Although some names and accounts of this story were told to me by my grandmother, Ms.Gussie Daniel, concerning her father, "Papa Bill" Daniels, the actual historical information and data is based on Len Green's, former Editor of the BISHINIK newspaper, history of the Choctaw people.

My Great Grandpa was an Indian Scout

Every summer, around the middle of July, Daniel Baker would spend two weeks with his grandmother. One day he came across an old faded picture of his grandmother.

"Who is this man?" Daniel asked his grandmother.

"That's my father," replied his grandmother. "I called him "Papa Bill", but, I never knew his real Choctaw Indian name."

"That was when I first learned about "Papa Bill", and the tale of the "Trail of Tears."

I was born in November around midnight, in a little teepee that my mother had made out of buffalo hides. I know that it was cold, and in the month of November, from my mother's accounts of my birth. It was snowing outside, and the moon was shinning bright in the blue midnight sky. "You will be called "Little Moon," said m grandfather. My grandfather was the medicine man for our tribe. I remember growing up in a very close family. As a little boy, I would help my mother gather crops, and repair the teepees. I can still remember the wonderful aroma of the buffalo stew that my mother would often cook. I would help my mother cut up the buffalo meat into small chuck size pieces, adding the carrots and onions to a big pot. As a young boy, I would spend hours and sometimes days alone, with nothing but my knife and bow and arrow, hunting in the wilderness. I would hunt mostly small game, but, sometimes deer and wild boar. I loved the outdoors and the smell of the Earth. "We are all a part of the Earth," said my grandfather. "We are all living in harmony and connected with each other, and the Earth." It was during some of my hunting trips that I became acquainted with nature and the importance of preserving our lands. I would also meet other tribes of Indians, such as the Chickasaw and Cherokee. I remember an incident of while hunting buffalo, I came across a tribe of Cherokee Indians. After a full day of hunting, a severe blizzard blew across the lands. I was forced to find shelter, which was very little. I huddle up next to an old Cherokee Chief. I will never forget that experience. I shared and told him about our life, and he told me about his experiences being the chief of such a proud tribe. It wasn't very long that I had developed into an excellent hunter and scout, something that I would come to depend on heavily later in life. It was November 1, 1831, I was a young man in my twenties, when the soldiers came and began to remove the Choctaw Indians from their homes. I had hatred and violence in my heart being forced to move away from the land that I loved so dearly. I had to help my grandmother pack her things, that she had loved and cherished as a small girl. Some of my family's most precious items were left behind, and were lost forever. I was sadden to witness such brutality and treatment by the army soldiers. I saw a young woman being physically dragged from her home. It was raining when I helped my mother load on the first steamboat. I will never forget the tears, of my entire family, as they looked back for the very last time.

"Why don't we fight?" I asked my father.

"There has been enough fighting and bloodshed." Many of the Choctaw Indians didn't even have warm blankets, or enough food for the long trip. And, I witness many of the young children were barefoot, as the soldiers ordered them on the steamboats. "Why do we have to leave our homes?" I heard a young boy asked his father.

"The Treaty of Dancing Rabbit Creek," replied his father.

I remember that it was starting to get cold as the first steamboats began to depart. I witness many people waving good-bye to the only home and land that they had ever known, leaving to some unknown fate.

I was on the steamboat called the Reindeer, along with about two hundred other Choctaw Indians. I remember the strong smell of coal oil that was coming from one of the cargo bin. The Reindeer was an old steamboat that had been used by the army to carry food and supplies. I didn't think we could all fit onto such a tiny space, but we were force to huddle together.

After about two days of travel along the Arkansas River, the Reindeer came to an abrupt stopped. I unloaded off and to a small camp area near the river.

"We need this boat!" shouted one of the soldiers.

"We need to transport supplies to our soldiers, instead of transporting dirty Indians."

I still remember the feeling from hearing those hateful words. My hatred for the soldiers grew every day. But, I still had to help my family and the others as much as possible to survive.

I remember the snow coming down that night, and the freezing temperature. I tried to comfort and alleviate the suffering of the others as best that I could, but it was so many. I witness hundreds of men and women, some were my relatives and friends, die of Pneumonia, Dysentery, Whooping Cough, Pellagra, Tuberculosis and just plain exposure to the cold weather. After about three weeks, the burial was like nothing I have ever seen. I helped dig the graves until all of those that had died were given a proper burial. I will remember forever, standing there in the cold, looking at rows of make shift headstones. I thought about the meaning of a human life, and the brutality of one person towards another.

Two days later, help finally arrived, and I helped some of the local people of Monroe carry some food consisting of corn, dried beans, pumpkins and onions,

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