As the earth’s sun crosses the equator for the autumnal equinox in the Northern Hemisphere, the end of the summer season transforms into the anticipation of cooler weather, fall festivals and the holiday season. For Mississippi Choctaws, in fact, festivities begin every year in early August.
We celebrate the second Friday in August as Nanih Waiya Day, commemorating the day in 2007 that the Mississippi Legislature sponsored and passed Senate Bill 2732 almost unanimously (with one nay vote in the House) to return the revered “Mother Mound” back to the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians. Although the Legislature approved the measure in 2007, the deed to the land wasn’t officially transferred to the tribe until Aug. 8, 2008, or 08/08/08. Miko Beasley Denson—“miko” means chief in Choctaw—and 17 Tribal Council members signed a proclamation later that year officially declaring a new holiday for the Choctaws.
Choctaw boys gather at a stickball exhibition game on Wednesday, July 13, 2022, at the Choctaw Indian Fair in Choctaw, Miss., an annual celebration of culture and heritage and the site of the stickball world series. Photo by Lukas Flippo
Nanih Waiya, or “leaning hill” in Choctaw, is a burial mound located on State Highway 393 in southern Winston County and is between the Choctaw communities of Crystal Ridge and Bogue Chitto. Tribal members refer to the sacred site as the Mother Mound, as well as the Heart of the Choctaw people.
The mound figures in two differing legends on how the Choctaw people came to be. One is a migration story, where the ancestors came from the West, looking to resettle in the East. Each night a Chief would shove a pole into the ground, and the tribe moved in whichever direction the pole was leaning by the next day. According to this legend, the pole finally stood upright at the site of present-day Nanih Waiya, and the ancestors decided this is where they would settle.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XfrWh_VhVkY The tradition of oral history was passed down generation to generation of Choctaws for centuries, and this is how the history and
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