October 8, 2012

Columbus Day?: Chickasaws Celebrate Piomingo Day

Many Native Nations (and even states) have already taken measures to change the name of the Columbus Day holiday. One example is South Dakota, where this day is referred to as Native American Day, and coincides with the large He Sapa Wacipi Powwow celebrations.

Another example is the Chickasaw Nation's celebration of their historic war chief and diplomat, Piomingo. Piomingo established a friendship with George Washington and the new federal government, and paved a way for cooperative living. President Washington had believed that the republic would not only honor Indian boundaries, but protect them. Sadly, future presidents didn’t share Washington’s belief.

In the video below, Jeannie Barbour points out that Chickasaws disagree with popular thought about Columbus Day and the notion that he “discovered” America. Instead, they celebrate “Piomingo Day” since Chief Piomingo was the leader who established diplomatic status as a sovereign nation with George Washington.

Since 2008, the Chickasaw Nation has celebrated Piomingo Day on the second Monday in October – coinciding with Columbus Day, a national holiday since 1937. In 2012, the City of Tupelo issued a proclamation recognizing Piomingo Day in honor of this historic leader and the Chickasaw Nation he served. It was approved by the City Council and signed by Mayor Jack Reed on October 2, 2012.

And of course, as everything on this blog site is in some way related to fashion, there is also a fashion element to this story. The first video below discusses Piomingo's Military Jacket. The military jacket's presence in Chickasaw clothing was first manifested in the 18th century, when General George Washington gave one to Piomingo. From then on, Chickasaw men adopted it into their everyday clothing and made them uniquely Chickasaw through certain cultural accessories. In the second video below, Chickasaw/Choctaw weaver and textile artist Margaret Roach Wheeler talks about how she creates modern-day military style jackets inspired by this rich legacy.

Click here to discover more from Chickasaw TV.