Here are my latest thoughts on my great-great-grandmother, Telitha Frances "Tillie" Katz Arnold, AKA Owah of the Choctaw Nation. ---- Until well into the 19th century, the Choctaw Nation had no written language. The written form was developed by Cyrus Byington, a Massachusetts missionary, and culminated 50 years later with the Choctaw language version of the Holy Bible. As I have heard of no petroglyphs found on any cavern walls and knowing that there was no written form of the Choctaw language, tribal history can only have been retained by passing down an oral history from generation to generation. ---- Besides the lack of a written language, the Choctaw also appear not to have had surnames as we know them until sometime in the 19th century, with the exception of Choctaw women who married into the Caucasian community. When Telitha’s mother is identified as "Tishku", in all likelihood, that was her full name, regardless of her marital status. No matter how Owah came to seque into Telitha Frances Katz, the bottom line is that PROBABLY Telitha was the only member of her Choctaw family who adopted the surname of Katz. Tishku and Owah MAY have alternatively been known as something akin to "woman (or "wife" if they had a specific word for female spouse) of Little Creek" and "daughter of Little Creek", making them identifiable by their husband and father. ---- In your research, you probably have no choice but to search for Telitha by her full Anglo name - I don't imagine you'd find anything credible by searching with name Owah, or if information cropped up, without knowing the identities of her father, her mother, and/or her husband, you’d have no way of knowing if that particular Owah was the same Owah who became Telitha Frances Katz. Whatever "Owah" means in the Choctaw language, there may have been scores of other women having that same name. ---- I am unconvinced that her father, sub-chief Little Creek, used the name Katz. I am also unsure about the name Naftula that has been attributed to Little Creek, but at the present time, I cannot disregard it. I don't know where the first person posting the name Naftula found that information, so we can only assume they had a reason to be convinced of its accuracy. Without attaching any kind of rationale, it may as well have been pulled out of thin air. I have discovered that the name Naftula seems to be common among Europe's Jewish population who may never have heard of the Choctaw nation.
---- Compounding that, I recently learned that there was a large Jewish community in the southeastern US although only a single family appears to have been enumerated in southwestern Mississippi for the census in 18 mid-1800s. That might explain where Telitha first heard the name Katz. The key words here are "could have". ---- Another school of thought is that perhaps Telitha, who lacked the ability to read and/or write, probably also had no spelling skills. Consequently, she might not have used the name Katz at all. A distant Arnold cousin has theorized that the name she used was more likely to have been Cates than Katz. In a stretch, Cates and Katz could be made to rhyme. Further confusing this theory is the Choctaw word for cat is katos. Enunciated quickly with the "a" rhyming with hats or that’s and de-emphasizing the last vowel, you have - voila! - cats. ---- From what little I have learned of the Mississippi Choctaw people, they were not nomadic although many or at most went back and forth between two homes - evidently a winter home and a summer home. They moved from one location to the other with the seasons. They were farmers, hunters, and gatherers. Their reputation was one of being non-warlike unless they were threatened. They appear to have been a peaceable people, as a rule and were friendly and possessed a generous spirit. Families lived in villages in individual huts built on pole frames with walls of mud and tree bark, roofs of thatch. Evidently most of the villages were overseen by the sub-chief (whose was subordinate only to the chief, himself, who may have lived several villages distant). ---- Referring to the time when there was no written Choctaw history, it appears that if Sub-Chief Little Creek made it into the Choctaw oral accounts of history, he would be referred to by his name in the Choctaw language rather than its English translation. More than likely, the average Choctaw knew little if any English. Therefore, researching a man named Little Creek is just about fruitless. However, from what little information I have gleaned, a sub-chief, while certainly more prominent than the ordinary Choctaw man, was probably not important enough to have made it into the Choctaw Nation's history prior to the move to the Oklahoma territory. A sub-chief might have been the leading man in the individual village but he still played second banana to the chief; it was always the chief, and maybe a couple of his favorite sub-chiefs, who would be named for official records and, hence, into the history books. ---- Further, it was well into the 19th century that the average, full-blood Choctaw villagers began adopting surnames as we know them. Sub-Chief Little Creek was, more than likely, dead before the mid-1800s. ----
Although the women seemed to have been the workers, they probably were deemed too unimportant to be mentioned in any history by name. ---- The bottom line is that the information you and I seek may not exist on-line. Any usable data will probably have to come through a visit to a Mississippi museum specializing in the Choctaw people. Unfortunately, there does not seem to be a museum with heavy emphasis on the Choctaw living in southwest Mississippi, and the Choctaw museums far to the north probably have little data on the area from which Telitha came. ---- I hope this is of some help to you in you research.