Years ago on Imanukfila Chito’s (Star Eagle) 14th
birthday I took him to a very special place to fish for
‘Sacalate’ (white perch). It was the same place that Mother
Inez my sister, Imanukfila Chito’s grandmother, had taken me
when I was his age.
It is a wondrous place, filled with the spirits of men of
the Civil War and Chanta (Choctaw) people of long ago.
Well, Chito being adventurous soon grew tired of fishing and
asked to go in to the woods to look around. I told him it
was okay but to watch out for unfriendly snakes.
Off he went singing some song in Chanta (Choctaw). Enough
time went by to let me catch some nice fish.
Then the solitude was broken by Chito calling, “Uncle Jules,
Uncle Jules,” and he came running up to me with his shirt
off and holding it in his hands. He opened the shirt
revealing a skinny baby owl with only a little covering of
feathers and there was something wrong with its eyes.
I told him that he must take the owl back to where he found
him. That the mother would be looking for the baby owl and
owl’s are very dangerous where their young are concerned.
“But Uncle Jules, I found the mother, she is lying by a
tree, and it seems she has been dead a long time.”
So, we sat there and talked about what to do.
I told him that owls went to a good place when they died and
if we left the baby owl with its mother it could follow her
there. Well, he would have none of that.
He said we would take it to Mother Inez, and she would know
what to do because she knew everything.
Well, we wrapped the owl again in the shirt, got in the
pirogue (boat) and headed back across Grand Lake to see
Soon with only a short distance to go, Chito, sitting up
front turned to look at me and shouted, “Grandmother will be
waiting at the dock.
What did he mean, ‘Grandmother will be waiting.’ How could
she know?” And it was so.
When we got to her little dock she was waiting. Before I got
a chance to run the pirogue up on the bank Chito was out and
on to the bank. Then he ran to Inez and gave her the owl.
Cradling the shirt, she nodded, gave me a smile and walked
towards her cabin with Chito in close pursuit. After I
beached the pirogue on the bank I followed them.
When I walked into the cabin Inez was washing the owl’s eyes
with a solution of, I think, witch hazel and caster bean
water. She was making a kind of clucking and whistling sound
that I never heard her use before. Then Chito started doing
I could not do the sounds so I decided to leave them with
Every day they mothered the owl. Inez treating the owl’s
eyes and Chito going out to find grub worms for the owl to
eat. When the owl got better and started to see, he would
follow Chito all around the cabin. Then as the owl got older
he was like a puppy, following at Chito’s heels.
As months went by, the owl began to fly. Sometimes he would
be gone several days, and then there he would be, roosting
high up in the old elm tree next to the house.
Later, when he was about thirteen months old he would begin
to hoot (call sound) just after dusk. He would hoot at
regular intervals until Chito came out of the house and
answered in hoots of his own. Then they would both leave and
not return until dawn.
One morning, early, before four, I was on the lake running
my trout line when I heard a peculiar sound. It was a high
pitched screech of an owl, Chito’s owl. Then I heard the
angry woof of the swamp black bear. I paddled my pirogue to
the bank and in the light of my lantern a small black bear
come running pass the bow of my pirogue with the owl just
above her in hot pursuit.
Then I heard, ‘Uncle Jules, I’m over here’ and right away I
knew something was wrong. I removed the lantern from its
mount and went to look for Chito. Following his voice made
it easy to find him.
Immediately I saw the problem. Someone had set out a bear
trap and it had closed shut on the snout of a young bear.
For the amount of claw marks on the ground it had took a
long time for the bear to die. Kneeling, Chito looked up at
me. There were tears on his cheeks and a strange look in his
He said, ‘I must find who did this and set things right’.
We buried the bear and went home. Every night after that
Chito would sit in front of the house, like waiting for
something. I asked Inez, ‘what is he doing’.
She looked sadden. ‘He is waiting for the one who set the
Finally, six nights later, I was visiting Inez when we heard
the owl hoot and Chito answering.
Inez shook her head. ‘The time has come; the man comes to
check his traps’.
Chito came in. ‘I will be only a short time, grandmother’,
he said. Then he was gone.
I told Inez, ‘It is too dark, he may not find his way. I
should go with him’.
She smiled at me. ‘He can see. He has the owl that we have
named ‘Tuscumasomi’ for his eyes and the Creator will watch
‘Fearless’, I thought it was a fine name for the owl.
Several hours went by before Chito returned. Saying nothing,
he kissed his grandmother and me goodnight and went to his
I asked my sister, how was it that she knew we were bringing
the owl to her.
“Chito and I think the words we want to say. The Creator
made it so.”
I had no words to say about that, so I decided to leave and
before I went to my cabin I looked in on Chito and he was
The next morning around nine, my brother, Alcide came by for
coffee and to tell me a strange tale.
There was a Lafitte skiff (special made boat) tied up to
Zac’s pier. In the boat were many types of animal traps.
Zac knew that the boat belonged to one of the no good
Duplantis brothers, most likely Clement. The next day Alcide
came by to tell me that Doyce Duplantis was looking for his
brother Clement. It seemed that Clement failed to return
from a late night trout run.
A day later they found Clement Duplantis.
He was found in the same area that we found the bear and his
foot was caught in the same kind of trap. After thirty hours
in the trap he was delirious. His story was that he had been
chased by some kind of big bird that kept slapping at his
head with its wings and driving him toward the trap. Today,
one of the Duplantis brothers walks with a limp. Every where
that Chito went the owl was there also.
When Mother Inez went back to her beginning (died) Chito
stayed with me until he was eighteen, then he joined the
Army. After Chito had gone, Tuscumasomi came every day to
perch in the old elm tree and at night he would hoot like he
was calling Chito. After about a year of doing this he was
Years later Chito returned home and Tuscumasomi returned
also the same day.
Now both disappear for three or four days each month and
while they are gone I hear many hoots from a far distance
Carlton ( Achoba) Sonnier