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The Story of Tanchi

A Choctaw Legend

A long time ago, before there were grocery stores, two Choctaw boys went hunting with bows and arrows. The two Choctaw boys hunted a long time, but did not find a squirrel or deer to kill and eat.

The boys did shoot a blackbird. Then the Choctaw boys made a fire with sticks and cooked the bird so they could eat it.

When the bird was cooked, the two boys sat down on the ground to eat. Before they could eat any of the bird, a woman came to them. The woman said, "I am very hungry." The Choctaw boys were respectful so they gave the bird to the woman and she ate it all up. The boys were still hungry, but there was nothing left to eat. They did not tell the woman how hungry they were. The woman said, "Thank you", and the boys said, "You're welcome."

The woman said, "Because you know how to share, I'm going to give you a surprise." Then she told the boys to go home and to come back tomorrow.

The next day, the two Choctaw boys went back to the place where they gave the cooked bird to the woman to eat.

There, where the fire had been built, was something growing that looked like a tree. The skinny tree had yellow things growing on it. The boys did not know what the surprise was. They pulled off one of the yellow things and smelled it. It smelled good. They ate some of it and it tasted good. "Let's take this home and ask somebody what it is", the boys said.

Mother didn't know what it was. Father didn't know what it was. Nobody in the whole town knew what it was, but they liked the way it tasted. Someone said, "What will we call this delicious present the boys have shared with us?" The boys said, "Let's call it Tanchi."

And the Choctaws still call the woman's present "Tanchi".

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