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The Ogden standard. (Ogden City, Utah) 1913-1920, December 22, 1917, 4 P.M. CITY EDITION, MAGAZINE SECTION, Image 21

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Persistent link: http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn85058396/1917-12-22/ed-1/seq-21/

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I Writer Traces Brer Fox to His Lair in Old Indian Hut I
I j VER hcar of Brcr R300'- and
I W tho Tar-Baby and the Briar
I JR- Patch?"
I , Agk that question to the average
I American youngster and hear tho hoot
I of scorn that greets you. Has he ever
I heard of George "Washington, the
I cherrj- tree and the hatchet? Of Wil-
I Ham Tell, the cross bow and the apple?
Of Snow "White and Rose Bud? Of
' Aladdin and tho "Wonderful Lamp 7
T Huh! Of course!
From his earliest memories come
: crowding the nursery bedtime tales of
: Uncle Remus and that resourceful cot
; ton tail who put it over Brcr Fox ao
many times. But
' "Ever hcar of Tcetkana and Sunlto-
nikoha-aya and the Aso Foska?"
His puzzled look at the question will
bo duplicated by the vast majority of
1 wise, wise grown-ups. Don't blame
. them. They can't be expected, to be
experts in tho tongues that were'
spoken in the Mississippi Valley when
De Soto an'd Iberville first sailed up
the Mississippi river exploring a new
continent. v
; Nor can they be expected "to know
, offhand the amazing fact that Brer
. Rabbit and the Tar Baby and the
Brier Patch arc not of negro origin,
but were taken by the earliest negro
, slaves of the South bodily from an
' ancient legend of the Biloxi tribe, now
IBISf almost extinct
I'' Yes. "Tcetkana" is the real, orig
inal Brer Rabbit, "Suniloni-koha-aya"
is the real original Tar Baby. And
"Aso Poska" is the real, original Brier
Brcr Fox L'eally "Towedi."
That trinity that Joel Chandler Har
ris and his Uncle Remus made immor
tal brought grins to the faces of so
lemn red warriors sealed about their
fires on the Gulf Coast long before the
lovable man who delved deep into the
South's negro lore was born.
"But Brer Fox?"
That's a painful comment on the
business practices of those first
French traders who brought bolts of
cotton colth, glass beads, cheap
knives and cheaper guns up the Mis
sissippi Valley. It leads us to be
lieve that maybe, after all, the Indian
had a 'faint inklinghe wasn't getting'
the best of those early trading deals.
) For in the Biloxi legend the sharp,
cunning character isn't Brcr Fox. It's
"Towedi" the Frenchman! "Toxka,"
the fox, appears in tho Biloxi tongue,
but the captains of "skindustry" un
der Dc Soto and Iberville took on his
qualities in the tales of the natives.
It is from these tales that much of
the so-called . "negro folklore" was
lifted in its entirety by those first ne
gro slaves who worked in the South.
And with the years it became an in
tegral part of yarns that were sprung
to circles of grinning black listeners
who squatted about the mud-plastered
fireplaces on the earthen floors of
slave-quarter cabins on many a plan
tation "befo' de wah."
After this, don't think of the Amer
ican Indian as always in solemn coun
cil or on the warpath. He had his
lighter moments, and he knew his joke
when he saw it.
I Legend in Biloxi.
"Burn me, Brer Fox. Hang me.
Drown me. But fo' dc Lawd's sake,
don't frow me in dc brier patch,"
pleads Uncle Remus' hero when the
t villain of the tale finds him stuck
firmly to that immortal Tar Baby. Did
tho Biloxi Indiare have such a sense
' of hunfor? They certainly did.
"Eka nso poska isihixti manki edi,"
runs the Biloxi tale.
"Then, as he lay there, he said he
was much afraid of the brier patch,"
is the English translation. And "aso
poska" is the brior patch that doubt
less made hundreds of copper-faced
Indian babies wriggle with delight,
even as their chubby Anglo-Saxon suc
cessors have wriggled joyously at tho
thought of Brer Rabbitt's cunning
"Aso nklshihixti" (Greatly I fear
the brier), once more pleads Brcr
Rabbit as his, enemy stands gloating
over his tar-entangled plight,
"Ayisahlxli ko , aso aaowa inka
natce!" ("Since you fear the brier so great-
jr ly into the brier I throw you!")
Thus Brer Rabbit's enemy fell into
his strategical trap in the days when
the Indians ruled the Valley of the
: Mississippi.
r "Dc taho. Haxahe dedi Tcctkanadi!"
("Into the brier he was flung. Laugh
ing fled the rabbit!")
Thus tho tale ends. Even to the cli-
max the negro slaves took the story
from the fast scattering tribes that are
; now no more.
LnstBlloxi Tribe Survivor.
Peacefully living out the few days
that arc left him, Joe Kiamlchi, prob
! ably the last survivor of tho Biloxi
; tribe, suns himself daily in front of
his roughly-built cabin that fronts one
of the unnumbered branches of Big
Barataria Bayou.
But eight of tho Biloxi blood were
found by. a United States-Government
'1 &
PIP''.? JWk' 0E" wszsted on 8losin6 fas eyes
IgSBSyS88 avoid influence, sf-e'Tvit"
census in 190S. For America has not
dealt oyerkindly with the tribe. But
65 were known in 1829 and 105'in l'SOo.
Colonial records show 175 in 1720, -and
the earliest estimate of the Biloxians
in 1698 was 420. .
It was while on a duck hunt down
the bayous with Charles Tenney Jack
son, author, in his motor-houseboat the
Goldbug, that the writer first heard
of Joe. His age is unknown.
" 'Bout hundred. I guess," he mum
bled when questioned.
"Dat Joe-Indian, . ho . queer in de
haid," some of tho reticent bayou folk
had said when the topic had come up
among a little group that was seated
about a stick fire on the bayou bank,
while some of the Interminable black
Cajun coffee was being dripped in a
little tin pot. The duck hunters were
there, mingled with the sofUspokcn,
gentle Cajuns that paddlo john-boat
and pirogue up and down the network
of waterways through the Big Swamp.
"He come here long tam ago, I
dunno." was tho response questioning
brought, 'Minds his own beesncss.
mos'ly. Sell some moss, 'n' muskrat
skins to trade boats, Bometama. Live
on mush, 'n' lard, 'n' crabs, 'n' feesh
mos'ly. Suah laks w'ecskey, too.' .
And the talk drifted to some other
absorbing bayou topic
"Dat JoeIndian" Fonnd.
There arc too many queer charac
ters living out their lives in the Big
Swamp for the Cajuns to become un
duly curious about one more or less.
It was two days later, steering down
a crazily-twisting bayou branch, that
"dat Joe-Indian" was found. He was
a model of reticence to make Cajuns
proud. But the wholly adequate "call
ing card"' a quart of Indubitable
"wJeeEjceytf--rcaused him to mellow
and .unbosom. Right thcro lhe duck
hunt ceased.
Brer. Rabbit, thc.Tar.rBaby-and.the
Brier Patch had been trailed all un
wittingly to their home address.
Slowly, as the almost forgotten
phrase came out of the limbo of past
years, Joe Kiamichi dictated talc after
tale in the Biloxi tongue. Jackson,
who has cruised for years about the
gulf coast and made a hobby of Indian
dialects, took them down phonetically.
Joe's own talc was simple. Some
ten years ago ("I dunno jus' w'en") he
had migrated from Rapides Parish to
the "Bccg Swamp." He neither reads
nor writes.
But and read it closely, all friends
of Uncle Remus hero is a running
English translation of the tale of Brcr
Rabbit and the Tar Baby as he told it
in the queer, clucking staccato Biloxi
The Rabbit helped his friend, the
iFrcnchman, at his work. Potatoes
they planted. The Rabbit's share was
the potato vines. These he devoured.
Then, again, they farmed. Corn they
planted this time.
"The roots will I take," said the
Rabbltv So he pulled up the corn and
devoured the roots. Men, say he did
not find what he sought (i. c, some
thing to satisfy his hunger).
"Let us dig a well," proposed the
. The Rabbit did not desire it The
Frenchman must dig his well alone.
"Never shall you drink Its water,"
said tho Frenchman.
"No difference It makes to me,". said
thetabbit "I am used to licking off
Then made the Frenchman a tar
baby and stood it up there closo to the
well. Tho Rabbit a piece of cane and
a bucket took and to the well he came.
There ho arrived, and to him (the
tar-baby) spoke he.
The tar-baby said nothing.
"Oh, friend, what is the matter?
Arc.you-jingry?" asked the Rabbit
With his hand then hit he the tar
baby. To it he stuck. -
"Let mc go," said the Rabbit, "or on'
the other side will I hit you."
With the other fore paw ho struck
the tar-baby. To it he stuck.
"I will kick you," said the Rabbit
He kicked and stuck. ,
"On the other side will I kick you
(if you do not, let me go)," said the
Again he kicked him. Again he
And there was he, like to a round
ball (of fur). J ;
Then arrived there the Frenchman.
Arrived and tied him. ,
Tied him and laid him down and
was scolding him.
Then said he (the Rabbit) as there
he lay, that he was much afraid of the
brier patch.
'Brier you fear so greatly into the
brier then I throw you," said the
"Oh. no. Don't!" said the Rabbit
"Into the brier patch will I throw
you," repeated the Frenohman.
"Greatly I fear tho brier," repeated
tho Rabbit
"Since you fear the brier so greatly,"
said the Frenchman, seizing the rabbit',
"into the brier I throw you."
Into the brier ho was , flung.
Laughing fled the Rabbit
Can't you hear old Uncle Remus'
"Bo'n 'n' .bred In dc brier patch, Brer
Fox bo'n 'n' bred In d brier patch!"
echo through that Biloxi rabbit's
laughing flight?
And here's exactly how the first of
It sounded when a Biloxi mother put
her papoose to sleep with the talc of
Brcr Rabbit and tho Tar-Baby and the
crafty Frenchman:
"Tcetkana Towedi lenaxl atamli;!
akltsl ato utcutu. Tcetkana' ato pahi
duti oxpa. Ekaba ldya ycki kitcutu.
"Tudlya ka nduti xya," hedl Tcctka
nadi. Ayekiya ludiya kc dutitcutyaye. '
Kawak leaned! ctuxa.
"Ani-kya-a- nl-knkaketu' edi Towe
yandi. Tcetkana kahani. Ani-kya-oJnl kedi
"Ani kiya ayini dandc," 'hcdl To
wedi. "Kako hiwo! Ayuya nkakatcki kc
nkande xa na," hcdl Tcetkanadl.
The spirited, sharp diction of the
sententious and gutteral Indian sen
tences makes the talc curiously vivid,
even with tho uncouth inversions of
tho original. And the tale of Brer
Rabbit's experiences with the Tar Ba
by and the Brier Patch is but one of
a group that remains as the sole mon
ument to a tribe almost extinct.
One gets a curious shock to find In
Joe's talc of "Tho Brant and the Otter"
the same story Aesop told centuries
before in the fable of the Fox andthe
Crane. And the talc of "How Ivutl
Manikdce (the One Above) Made Peo
ple" gives in clear Biloxian an Indian
version- of tie Biblical story of the
Garden of Eden, even to tho eating of
fruit and the banishment in anger to
"earn bread by tho sweat of tho brow."
"lnkowa atamini adutl yanc, Iduti
yayuke te etiketu nixti!"
('Work for yourself and find food,
because you shall be hungry!" Is the
banishment decreo of Kutl Kankdce.)
Also he tells "Why the .Buzzard is
Bald" and "How tho Rabbit Caught the
Sun in a Trap," talcs curiously
blended with, long-known negro folk
lore. of the South.
The history of the Biloxi tribe is one
of the most romantic of all the Gulf
Coast Indians. There is no mention
of them at all in the narratives of Do
Soto, but the first people Iberville met
in 1G69 were, he says, "tho An
nocchy, whom t,he Bayogoula caljoctf
'Bllocchy,' " They gavo their name,"
Biloxi, to the first two capitals of the
first Louisiana settlcincnt
closed "branch
!fXiQ Xiarataria
)ayou that is
'fTonKyard"oi .
Joo KiaTTricfii
In the latter part of the seventeenth
contury. Sauvollc records'that the
Biloxi nation was "destroyed by sick
ness," which, coupled with its losses
in Indian ware, undoubtedly accounts
for the swift disappearance of the
.tribe after the advent of -white men in
Louisiana. Fifteen Biloxi warriors ac
companied St Denis In his expedition
against tho Chitimacha in 1707. But
thereafter this little nation, with a
store of legends unaccountably rich,
drifted into obscurity, A few camped
on the southern shores of Lake Pont
chartrain and then drifted out of sight
Avoyelles Parish for a short time
knew of two small encampments.
Rapides housed a few. And thcro his
tory ends.
They were one of tho few American
tribes that never interred their dead
chiefs. Dumont, in his "Memories
Historiqucs sur la Louisiane," de
scribes their practice of having tho
dead chlef'3 body dried in smoke "60
that they make of It a veritable skele
ton." In their grass-thatched and mud
plastered temple, at the time tho
French first explored Louisiana, wore
ranged in succession, on their feet,
like statues, the bodies of chiefs of
many generations.
The sight of Joe Ivlamlchl brings
that bit of forgotten American history
to life. Hl3 Hvrlnkled. parchmcnt-liko
lace looks smoke-dried and century-old.-
Day by day he tends his trotlines
in the Big Swamp. They bring him a
livelihood. The bayou, that flows
sluggishly past his door also brings
him occasional visitors occasional
"w'ecsky." There he camps, a solitary
figure that shrouds the forgotten lore
of a forgotten people.
Out of the mist of years he has
brought Brer Rabbit, tho Tar-Baby
.:and a score of other characters that
'were- very real to him before Uncle
'Remus' creator first heard them.
Who knows what other wraiths drift
from time to time before his mind, ot Rl
of the chaos' of racial memories? El
The South Sea Islands are the place ll
for' turtles and the islanders arc ex
ports at capturing the clumsy crca-
. There arc several curious ways of jH
capturing them. When lying asleep on
the water in the sun, a canoe will si
lently approach, its crew seize tho
animal and tumble him aboard "before jil
he knows where he is." He is turned f
on his back, for otherwise he would
climb out and swamp the boat il
-A native will also swim up quietly IH
behind the sleeping creature, spring
on the back of his shell and hold on
in such a way - that ho cannot dive.
Having no idea of escaping in any
othor was', he can be steered whither-
soever his captor chooses. Consider- .J
able agility and nerve are necessary iM
in accomplishing this feat, for if the
.man. should miss his leap and fall 'M
back into the water he id liable to be M
dangerously cut by the animal's flip-
An inexpert person or one who wish
ed to have some fun with the turtle
might grasp him by tho tail. If so,
like the Irishman who devised the -M
plan of catching the bull by the horns
and rubbing his noso in the dirt, he
will do. well to have his laugh first. Pl
The turtle has his idea of a joke, too, Hl
which is instantly to shut his tail
close up to his body, whereby the
man's hand .is held fast as in a vise,
and then dive with him to the bottom
of the sea.
Most of tho turtles, however, xe jM
captured on the beaches, whither the
females land to lay their eggs, and the
males accompany them out of gal
lantry or to keep guard.
. The eggs are laid in a perpendicu
lar cavity about a yard deep, at the
bottom of a great circular excavation,.
which the female scrapes by whirling
round like a fly with its wings singed
and violently plying its flippers.
When surprised the turtle offers no
resistance, but makes off at a pace
surprisingly rapid in so clumsy an an
imal and which a good runner can
hardly1 keep up with in the sand.
To turn a turtle weighing 400 pounds
on Its back, and thus capturing it
-while it is scuttling through deep
sand, requires more knack than
strength. A turtle's progress on land
is by a series of wriggling .jerks from
side to side, and the fisher; taking ad- fl
vantage of the moment when it cants
away from him, overturns it with ease.
The young aro hatched in a month.
making their appearance when about
the size of an American silver dollar,
and are prepared to begin life on their
own hook at once, which they do by IH
rushing for tho sea, as rapidly as (pos
sible. Many of them never reach it,
however, being caught by birds if It
be day and by land crabs .at night
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