Rabbit Decolonizes the Forest: Stories from the Euchee Reservation

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University of Oklahoma Press, Mar 26, 2024 - Literary Collections - 206 pages
Before their forced removal to Oklahoma in the 1830s, the Euchee people lived in Georgia and other southeastern territories. Today the Euchees are enrolled members of the Muscogee Nation of Oklahoma, but they possess their own language, culture, and traditions. This unique collection by Euchee citizen Gregory H. Bigler combines traditional di’ile (Euchee tales), personal recollections, and contemporary stories to portray a way of life often hidden from view.

Written in an engaging, down-to-earth style, the stories in this book immerse the reader in the everyday experiences of the Euchee community. With his gift for storytelling, Bigler welcomes readers into the lives and culture of the people whose stories he has heard or observed throughout his life and career as a lawyer and judge. Unforgettable characters appear or reappear in various settings, and these figures, whether animal or human, are bound to bring forth a chuckle or leave the reader wanting to learn more about their history. Some of the tales address serious legal injustices, while others poke gentle fun at lofty academic constructs. In the title story, for example, the mischievous character Shajwane (Rabbit), resolves to decolonize the forest, to strip away its “false narrative,” by literally removing all new growth from the trees.

These stories bring to life Euchee traditions that include family ties, the stomp dance, and communal cooking and feasting. Woven throughout is the sacred element of spirit. As Bigler explains in his introduction, the “spiritual” for Euchees signifies not a Western quest for peace or centeredness but a world filled with animate spirits that interact with all of us—as we see them, feel them, or seek them out.

The Euchee people are unknown to most Americans. They inhabit a small area southwest of Tulsa and have yet to receive federal recognition. Yet even in their modern-day lives—as these stories capture so beautifully—the Euchee people remain fiercely determined to show “they are still here.”


Foreword by Kristen A Carpenter
Growing Up Euchee
Wild Onion Dinners
Seven Thousand Dzogala
Jackson and the Old
Shajwane and Gojithlah Rabbit and Monster
Visiting Uncle John
Wilson Gets a Wife Almost
Soup Dance and Chief
Fixing Medicine for Funerals
The Journey
Pray for
Little Man Makes a Jailbreak
Jackson Speaks for His Niece
Rabbit and the Last Old Woman

You Need to Get Out of Here

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About the author (2024)

Gregory H. Bigler (Euchee, enrolled with the Muscogee Nation of Oklahoma) is a tribal judge and lawyer who exclusively represents Native American tribes. He devotes much of his time to the Polecat Euchee Ceremonial Grounds and has contributed to Euchee language revitalization efforts for three decades.

Kristen A. Carpenter is Council Tree Professor of Law at the University of Colorado Boulder and a tribal judge. She is coauthor of Cases and Materials on Federal Indian Law, Seventh Edition.