Residence: Los Angeles, CA
Date of Performance/Collection: April 29, 2015
Primary Language: English
Informant: When my grandma moved from the reservation in Oklahoma—the one where, like, you know, they were forced to go after the Trail of Tears and stuff—to California, people were mean to her and her family. And the other Choctaw Freeman. So they’d sing this little song, like:
“One, two, three, four, five, six, seven,
all the Okies go to heaven.
When we get up there;
we’ll sing: hell, hell,
you’re gonna go to hell,
all the Californians are gonna go to hell!”
The informant is a student at the University of Southern California. She is from an “eccentric” family. Her grandmother is Choctaw Freedman (formerly enslaved African Americans who joined the Native American Choctaws in Oklahoma) and has passed on many of her traditions and beliefs to the informant.
This song, the informant told me, is something her grandmother and other Choctaw Freedmen preformed together when they came to California and faced prejudice. The song is colored with equal parts resentment for Californians and pride in the Choctaw Freedmen identity.