Chickasaw families are organized into clan systems. The Panther was an important Clan symbol and remains significant to many aspects of Chickasaw culture today. It was understandable how our ancestors would have revered these powerful feline hunters of the southeast who are now endangered due to the loss of their habitat of southern swamplands and forests. In the ancient mississippian cosmology, the underwater panther being was associated with the under world which is the world below the surface of the water.
My hair comb is completely hand fabricated using the chasing and repousse´method and depicts two powerful panthers stalking their prey through the lacy swirls of a southeastern river. The diamonds set in 14k yellow gold glint like the moonlight on the surface of the water while a watery moon of labradorite rises above.
The panther is also significant to women. The Chickasaw people are matrilineal and strong female leaders are prevalent throughout Chickasaw History. The panther is a female symbol and there is a historical female warrior and battle strategist called Panther Woman who’s story has been passed down from generation to generation. In this video, Chickasaw illustrator and Director of the Chickasaw Press Jeannie Barbour tells the story of panther woman and how her battle strategies helped the Chickasaw successfully attack the ruthless conquistador Hernando De Soto and his encampment in order to remove them from Chickasaw territory.