Sunday, September 23, 2012

Kaliteyo


 

 
                                           Kaliteyo Paul Willingham
 
Aunt Kaliteyo was my favorite aunt. It's not that I didn't love my Aunt Oteka too, but I didn't see her as much.  I kind of grew up with Aunt Kaliteyo. She would be at home visiting with my mother Wenonah when I got home from school, and we would have milk and cookies together. She loved to raid our ice box for corn bread. She taught me to swim, how to sit up straight, and how to answer the phone with "Gunning's residence." She was my buddy.
 
Aunt Kaliteyo was named after one of my great, great, great aunts, a sister of Ela-teecha, from whom we all get our Chickasaw blood. This aunt Kaliteyo was married to one of the Maytubby's. Floyd Maytubby, her great grandson, was the Chickasaw governor when I was little. I mentioned him in my story: The First Chickasaw Princess, published Oct 5, 2011.  
 
After my mother's death I found among her papers a legend about the origin of the Maytubby name. The document was written by Mrs. Agnes Trousdale, one of our Maytubby cousins. The story was never used by the historical society, and I haven't written about it myself until now, afraid that I might be infringing on the rights of the Maytubby's, but I've finally decided to write an abridged version with the idea of preserving the story for our family and for the tribe. I'm assuming that Mrs. Trousdale wouldn't mind since she gave it to my mother, Wenonah.
 
Mint-Ubbe, The Origin of the Chickasaw Name of Maytubbe
 
Long ago, before the coming of the white man, there was a great hunter among the Chickasaw. He could see farther, walk more softly, and shoot an arrow straighter than any of the other warriors. The tradition at that time was for each person to be given a name which represented a characteristic he possessed or a deed he had performed, but the chiefs had not given this warrior a name, since they could not think of one worthy of him.
 
In the same village lived a beautiful maiden called Kaliteyo, or "running water," because of the musical laughter which flowed forth from her mouth like a babbling brook. The great warrior and the lovely maiden Kaliteyo had long been exchanging glances when the warrior's mother delivered a bundle of clothes to the mother of Kaliteyo. This was the traditional manner of proposing marriage among the Chickasaw. If Kaliteyo accepted the bundle, it meant that she had accepted the warrior's proposal.
 
Of course Kaliteyo happily accepted the bundle; the two were married, and for many moons they lived happily together. Soon a son was born to them, and then another and another.
 
As the years passed, game became scarce near the village, and the hunters struggled to provide enough meat for the tribe. Finally, one autumn, when the stores of meat became low, the chiefs announced that if the hunters did not find game soon, the tribe could not survive the winter. So, bidding his wife and sons goodbye, the nameless hunter set out to find a new hunting ground.
 
The great hunter searched for many days, travelling far and wide, and finding only small game, but no deer or buffalo. Finally, fearing that his family might be starving, he gathered up what little meat he had found and started for home. Meanwhile, Kaliteyo, worried that her husband had been attacked by a wild beast or captured by a hostile tribe, left their children with her mother, and set out to find him.
 
After a few days, Kaliteyo came to a small valley filled with tall grass. As she looked she thought she saw something move. Then she saw them. She couldn't believe her eyes. In the valley was a large herd of buffalo. As she lay there, wondering if she had the strength to kill one of the massive beasts herself, she heard a noise. Not knowing whether the noise came from a wild animal or a hostile warrior, she lay still and waited. Then who should emerge from the forest but her husband, the nameless warrior.
 
Kaliteyo, overjoyed at finding her husband safe, and excited that they could now end the tribe's famine, began running toward her husband pointing toward the buffalo and calling out to him, "Mint-ubbe! Mint-ubbe!" - "Come and kill them! Come and kill them!" As the great hunter came over the ridge he saw them too, and quickly began releasing arrows into the herd.
 
As soon the nameless one had killed enough buffalo to feed the tribe for the winter he and his beloved Kaliteyo returned home to summon the other warriors to help butcher the meat and carry it back to the village. Afterwards there was a great celebration and the old chiefs finally gave the great hunter a name - Mint-ubbe.


 

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