Issetibbeha

Character Key Number: 
110
Display Name: 
Issetibbeha
Sort Name: 
Issetibbeha
Parent Character Key: 
Ever Present in Yoknapatawpha?: 
Yes
Biography: 

Issetibbeha is a chief of the tribe of Indians who are living in Yoknapatawpha when the white settlers arrive. The Indians are called Choctaws in Faulkner's earlier fictions, and Chickasaws, the more historically appropriate name, in the later ones. Issetibbeha is identified as the son of Doom (AKA Ikkemotubbe) in the earliest 'Indian story," "Red Leaves," but later becomes Ikkemotubbe's uncle - although at one point in Go Down, Moses he is identified as "Ikkemotubbe's father old Issetibbeha" (245). He is consistently identified as the father of Moketubbe. Moketubbe does succeed him as the chief in "Red Leaves," and may even have killed him to gain that title and the "shoes with red heels" that, along with other decadent artifacts of European high culture, Issetibbeha brings back to the woods from a trip to Paris (316). "Red Leaves" goes into the most detail about Issetibbeha's life and character, as he finds himself caught between the traditions of his culture and that of the white settlers, who arrive with their European ways and their African slaves and their determination to own the land. "A Courtship" notes that he is the chief, "the Man," who signs the treaty with General Jackson that formalizes the process of dispossession (361). In the other seven fictions that mention him, he is essentially a totemic figure for that idea of loss.