A couple weeks ago, I spent a day cemetery hunting in South Mississippi with my dad. With the help of long lost relatives, we found The Granny Bounds Cemetery in the Desoto National Forest. There we found new markers for members of our family tree. It was stunning to see a marker for Running Deer, wife of Joseph Anderson and daughter of Choctaw Chief Pushmataha.
I have always known I have Choctaw blood running through my veins, but I did not know of the connection to the famous chief.. It’s not a connection based on hard-core evidence but on family stories and letters passed down through the years. Regardless of the validity of the claim, I’m telling everyone I’m a Choctaw Princess.
So, it really hacked me off to note the recent events among the local tribe. I cheered when they elected a woman chief. As it happens, we share the same last name. Then the election was nullified. How convenient. Don’t like the election results? Just declare a do-over.
On the heels of this announcement came the arrival of the FBI, search warrants in tow. Something shady is going on. And the current chief, Denson, appears to spend way too much time at the blackjack tables, all while controlling a $250-million business with special tax exemptions. Great, great, great, great, great grandfather would turn over in his grave.
Pushmataha was a fierce warrior, earning the title of chief through his battlefield exploits. He was a cultural conservative with a desire to hang onto the Choctaw traditions,while pushing his people into the modern age. He was on the bad end of some political double-dealing, so I don’t think he’d appreciate the current state of affairs.
I can’t tell you for certain that I’m related to this great leader, but I KNOW I’m Choctaw. My cheekbones and a certain birthmark give me away. And I’m cheering for the good spirits to win out in this classic battle.
Nancy Lottridge Anderson, Ph.D., CFA, is president of New Perspectives Inc. in Ridgeland — (601) 991-3158. She is also an assistant professor of finance at Mississippi College. Her e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org, and her website is www.newper.com.