JACKSON, Miss. (WJTV) – Across what is now State Route 393 in Mississippi is the Nanih Waiya Mound. There is no other Native American mound site in Mississippi that holds the significance of Nanih Waiya, because this is where ancient Choctaw lore and legend says the Choctaw Nation was born.
Back before time wasn’t chopped into work weeks, the old stories say the ancestors of the Choctaw began moving east from the snows and mountains out west. And for about as long as the Israelites wandered the wilderness, the people followed the leanings of a pole until it remained upright.
They stayed and built the mound, perhaps containing the bones of the dead who passed away along the journey. It is known as the Mother Mound, and many people of the Choctaw Nation swore they would never leave it as long as it stood. And many didn’t during the Trail of Tears, when others were disbursed to Oklahoma.
There is another tale, perhaps older, that says the Choctaw people were born full grown and emerged from the bowels of the earth from the mouth of a cave in a hill nearby and sunned themselves dry on the side of the mound.
Time has blurred the details and erased any artifacts that would verify either story. But I met a young man with his young son at the cave mound many years ago. He had Oklahoma plates on his car. He told me he was bringing his son to show him where he came form. The Mother Mound on mother soil for the Choctaw Nation here in Mississippi.
Ownership of Nanih Waiya Mound was returned to the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians in August 2008. Every August since then, the nation has a tribal holiday on August 18th to celebrate the return of the mound.