Chahta Ohoyo Celebrated During Womens History Month
March is National Women’s History Month in America. The Choctaw Nation has a rich history, filled with powerful Chahta ohoyos, who have helped shape the Choctaw Nation into what it is today.
Throughout our history, the Choctaw people have held women in high regard. They were recognized as givers and supporters of life. One of the most sacred places for early Choctaws is named nvnih waiya, the Mother Mound. The site plays a central role in the origin story of the Choctaw tribe and is referred to as the heart of the Choctaw people.
For many of us, our mothers, grandmothers, and great-grandmothers played an integral part in keeping our families together and traditions alive. We look back fondly on time we spent with them, and are thankful for the lessons and love they bestowed upon us. I lost my mother in May of last year and she had a huge impact on my life and who I have become. I want to say yakoke to all of the mothers who sacrificed so much to give us love, life, and shelter.
Historically, Choctaw women have held positions of great respect and power. Traditional Choctaw society was a matriarchal one. Women-owned property assisted in harvest and produced the majority of the food for their families. They accompanied men on diplomatic missions and served as motivators for their communities. Today, Choctaw women are still serving as leaders and motivators for our tribe. The Choctaw Nation currently employs 5,761 women, 176 of those serving in leadership positions. These women are leading the way for younger generations of Choctaw women to be the future leaders of the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma.
In this month’s issue of the Biskinik, you will be introduced to several young women who are doing great things and accomplishing so much in their lives. Nine-year-old Madison Bradshaw of Anadarko won a silver medal in the 50-meter freestyle swim during the Winter Special Olympics. Shay Hill of Talihina was recently awarded the Dennis Hemphill Hustle Award and Scholarship for her hard work on the basketball court and in the classroom. Chahta Sisters Harley and Charlotte Hopper and their Walden Grove High School dance team recently went viral for their Harry Potter dance. They’ve made appearances on Good Morning America and Season 13 of America’s Got Talent. And finally, Anna Hoag was recognized as Engineer of the Year for the U.S. Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Reclamation. These young women are among the countless Choctaw women who are out there representing the Choctaw Nation in amazing ways. I want to encourage these young ladies to dream big and aim high. You can accomplish anything you set your mind to if you work hard and push yourself. Use the stories of the powerful Chahta ohoyos who came before you as guidance and inspiration. Remember their strength and resilience.