THE MEANING OF DIFFERENT SYMBOLS
Perhaps the most characteristic feature of present-day Choctaw traditional dress, both male and female, is the cutout appliqué' work noted above in connection with the men's shirts and the women's dresses and aprons. There seems to be a limited number of designs employed in this type of ornamentation. Buster Ned supplied the following interpretation of some of these appliqué' designs.
1. The diamond design, is derived from the markings of a diamondback rattlesnake. (note added) "Because of the medicine derived from them".
2. The Saint Andrew's cross design, X, according to Buster Ned, derives from the Choctaw stickball game (kebutsha): "In years past [the player] when the game was over... Would hang the sticks on the walls of the house, and put [them] in the shape of an X. the design means "May our paths cross again and again." The Saint Andrew's cross design is also commonly seen in beadwork.
3. The half-diamond design, according to Buster Ned, "is derived from, [the] life of the people. The Choctaw people believed in the Great Spirit (God) in that their life followed an imaginary road. [The design symbolizes] that when they give aid to someone sick, they come off this imaginary road, and when the sick was well, he returned to this road and continued,. [Likewise] when he did something bad, he again left the road, only he was on the opposite side, thus the half diamond design."
4. The road design, according to Buster Ned, represents the "road of life" which one travels in his or her span on earth, as mentioned in connection with the half diamond design above.
5. The circle design, O, represents the Choctaw tribe. Buster Ned comments: "The Choctaws believed, and still do, that we live in a circle (imaginary) and that, in this circle, a man or woman cannot talk about (gossip) or tell bad tales on another Choctaw. If this happens then this is...Passed on until [within] a short period of time the person who did the talking finds himself or herself being shunned by his fellow tribesman and he then "out of the circle" and he'll be wondering why."
6. The ball design, filled in circle, represents the ball used in the Choctaw stickball game. According to Buster this design was worn only on the garments of the male stickball players. This design is apparently obsolete, as I have never seen it in use in either Mississippi or Oklahoma. It is nevertheless clearly identifiable as a representation of the Choctaws in neatly covered with interwoven rawhide or a leather strip, which explains the interior line work in this design.
7. The reversal spiral or "coiled snake" design. This design represents the giant horned serpent of southeastern mythology coiling and uncoiling. It is definitely prehistoric in origin, as it appears as a pottery design on vessels from the Mississippian archaeological culture. In the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries it was in wide spared use as a beadwork design on baldrics. I have observed it on baldrics collected form the Cherokees, Creeks, Alabamans, and Coushatta's as well as from the Choctaws. at present it continues in use only among the Choctaws. In 1965 I collected a baldric from Wilson Morris, of the Bogue Chitto Community in Mississippi, which employs the reversed spiral motif together with design 2, the Saint Andrew's cross. The reversed spiral design is sometimes split into two parts or otherwise modified.
8. Another common beadwork design is the "friendship" design, identified by Wilson Morris.
9. The sunburst and sunburst enclosing a star are also common beadwork designs, but I did not secure any interpretations of their symbolism.
Ribbons - we were ribbons on the back of our dresses, most wear the 6 sacred colors
Links to learn history
Try to learn about the history, people, the removal, and much more