Henry Sales Halbert con Nanih Waiya, the Sacred Pyramid of the Choctaws (1898) (English Edition)Henry Sales Halbert (1827-1916) was a Catholic missionary and teacher to the Choctaws from 1888-1900, who in 1898 contributed an article to Publications of the Mississippi Historical Society on "Nanih Waiya, the sacred pyramid of the Choctaws"---which article has been reprinted here for the convenience of the reader.
Nanih Waiya (alternately spelled Nunih Waya) is an ancient earthwork mound in southern Winston County, Mississippi, said by some to have been constructed about 1-300 CE. The Choctaw have venerated Nanih Waiya as their sacred origin location in their traditional beliefs. The mound has been a site of pilgrimage for the Choctaw since the 17th century. Choctaw believe that Nanih Waiya is the "Mother Mound" (Inholitopa iski) where the first Choctaw was created.
In August 2008, the Luke family deeded the mound to the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians, a federally recognized tribe. They have declared August 18 as a tribal holiday to mark the return of the mound, and have used the occasion for telling stories of their origin and history, and performances of dances.
"According to the classification of the archaeologists, Nanih Waiya is a pyramidal mound, which kind of mounds is found almost exclusively in the Gulf states. The chroniclers of De Soto's expedition speak constantly of the mounds, and of these writers, Garcilaso de la Vega tells us exactly how and why they were made. According to his statement, in building a town, the natives first erected a mound two or three pikes in height, the summit of which was made large enough for twelve, fifteen, or twenty houses to lodge the cacique and his attendants. While there can be no doubt but Nanih Waiya was the residence of the cacique and his attendants, in accordance with the statements of La Vega, other statements induce the belief that the summit of this mound was sometimes used as a place of sun-worship."