Since it is October, I thought I’d share tales of a few monsters from Choctaw lore that never failed to scare the ever-loving-shit-crap out of me when I was a kid.
1. Shampe – A giant, foul-smelling beast that lives in the deepest parts of the woods, some believe the Shampe followed the Choctaw on their long migration from the West. Often described as part vampire, part wendigo, and part Sasquatch, they are nocturnal monsters that can’t stand sunshine or fresh air. These vampire beasts are attracted by the smell of blood and will often stalk hunters carrying fresh kills. They do not have very good vision, but posses a keen sense of smell. They can track any person or animal for miles.
There are two ways to tell if a Shampe is near. One is the foul smell, a scent so terrible that many have died from its odor. The other is the whistling noise they make as they stalk their prey. Once this beast has caught your scent, your only hope is to drop a dead or wounded animal and pray that the smell of fresh blood will draw the Shampe away from your trail. Then run as far and as fast as you can.
2. Hattak Chito “Big Man” – A huge, manlike beast similar to Sasquatch that lives in the swamps or tangled creek bottoms. Covered in coarse grey or brown hair, this creature has long arms and a stooped walk that appears shambling but is deceptively speedy. Legend has it that the Hattak Chito was once a slave to an evil conjurer called Ohoyotubbi “Woman Killer,” who would use the beast to terrorize anyone who angered him. On one occasion, Ohoyotubbi became angry with a farmer that lived near his home on the Little River and sent the manbeast to kill the farmer’s cattle. In retaliation, the farmer and his sons crept to Ohoyotubbi’s home the next night and set it afire, destroying the witchman. Since then, the manbeast has continued to live in the Boklawa area.
He tries to avoid people, but some reported sightings have occurred as late as 1979. It is said in legend that should you meet the manbeast and are frightened, he will run away from you. But, if you meet him and are not afraid, he will become your slave and serve you as he once served Ohoyotubbi.
3. Na Lusa Chito “Big Black Thing” – The ancient Choctaw’s counterpart to Satan or the Devil, the Na Lusa Chito, or soul eater, is the cause of depression. If you allow evil thoughts to enter your mind, the Na Lusa Chito will creep inside you and eat your soul, barring your way to the Happy Land where Choctaws enjoy life after death.
Thus it became a practice that, after an Oklan dies, his name was never again mentioned aloud by any member of his family or any of his friends for fear that the soul eater might discover that he was dead and devour his soul. Also, a wife never refers to her husband by name. In conversation, he is “My Husband,” and perhaps later will become “My Son’s Father.”