Red Shoe (Shulush Homa)

(ca. 1700–1747) Choctaw Chief

Shulush Homa/Shulush Humma, called Red Shoe/Red Shoes/Red Sock, was a Choctaw war chief, possibly with some Chitimacha ancestry, who lived in what is now Jasper County, Mississippi. He was probably from the village of Couëchitto and was of the Imoklata moiety of the Okla Hunnah (Six Peoples) clan. He advocated peace and trade with whites. His opportunistic maneuverings between the French and English provoked a factionalism leading to the catastrophic Choctaw Civil War (1747–50).

Red Shoe left no records, and the only written sources on his life, French and English documents, are sometimes unclear or contradictory. The French made him a medal chief in 1731 for fighting the Chickasaw, who were harboring refugees from the Natchez Rebellion. Hearing rumors that English traders had given smallpox-infected blankets to the Indians, Red Shoe visited English posts in the Chickasaw villages seeking revenge. His real purpose may have been to inspect English goods since French supplies were low. Thereafter he apparently adopted a strategy of trying to obtain English goods for himself or his tribe whenever French supplies dwindled or the French punished his disloyalty by withholding his presents.

From 1732 through early 1734 he fought the Chickasaw with the French. But then, disgusted with French lack of participation and insignificant rewards to the Choctaw, he apparently went to Charleston and Georgia. Hoping for a treaty, he returned with gifts for himself and told the chiefs they would receive presents if they traded with the English. In 1735 he joined Chief Alibamon Mingo in welcoming English traders. The French deprived Red Shoe and Alibamon Mingo of their medals, but in 1736 they joined a French expedition against the Chickasaw. On Red Shoe’s advice, Gov. Jean-Baptiste Le Moyne, Sieur de Bienville, attacked Ackia on 22 May, a disastrous decision that ended the campaign. Red Shoe thereupon made a truce with the Chickasaw and returned to Charleston. His efforts there attracted English traders to Choctaw villages, but tribal disagreements arose. Red Shoe began losing followers, especially when French supplies increased. By May 1739 he and a hundred followers returned from a visit to Charleston unhappy after being rebuffed by the English, who were now more interested in preserving their Chickasaw trade. Red Shoe consequently swore allegiance to the French and won reinstatement.

A second Chickasaw campaign failed in 1739–40, but in 1740–42 Red Shoe led devastating attacks on Chickasaw croplands. The tiring Chickasaw obtained Gov. Pierre de Rigaud de Vaudreuil de Cavagnial, Marquis de Vaudreuil’s agreement to negotiate; assembled Choctaw chiefs agreed while reprimanding Red Shoe for drunkenness and foul language. The Chickasaw wavered but in January 1745 made peace via Red Shoe. Some Chickasaw raiding continued, however. Amid Choctaw reprisals, Red Shoe led small parties to collect some scalps before the March 1745 presents ceremony. He was welcomed and even treated at the French hospital for wounds and eye trouble. His “repentance” proved fraudulent. With French goods critically scarce again, Red Shoe and some others launched a campaign on 20 July to make peace with the Chickasaw and obtain English goods. Arguments tore apart the Choctaw. In late September two French officers (one in Red Shoe’s home village) were accused of rape; at the same time, warriors from Little Wood killed two English traders bound for the Chickasaw. Only four of about fifty villages allegedly remained pro-French by December, and Red Shoe warned the French that all of the regional tribes were making peace.

In late March 1746 some twelve hundred leading Choctaw came to New Orleans, unsuccessfully pleading for French supplies. Red Shoe, perhaps fearing humiliation by other chiefs for disloyalty, stayed away. Word circulated that he was losing ground. Cut off from his French presents and supplies for his followers, he needed English trade, but getting it would require peace with the Chickasaw. He lobbied the chiefs hard but encountered stiff opposition. He also sent his brother, Imataha Pouscouche (the Little King), to negotiate a peace. Through a Chickasaw embassy, English trader James Adair informed Red Shoe that a man had been accused of raping Red Shoe’s wife. In July Red Shoe’s emissaries threatened to kill several Frenchmen to avenge the two English traders killed in 1745. Choctaw attacked a returning Chickasaw embassy, however, killing two men and a woman. Red Shoe decided to retaliate by killing three Frenchmen, and on 14 August two French traders and the alleged rapist were killed by order of Red Shoe and two allied chiefs.

These deaths apparently satisfied the English, but the French demanded three Choctaw lives. After various negotiations, the French quietly urged other Native American warriors to kill Red Shoe. His support apparently again began to increase, and on 12 November he concluded a peace with the Chickasaw and several prominent English traders. By 11 December he dispatched Imataha Pouscouche with a party to Charleston to negotiate a treaty.

Governor Vaudreuil nevertheless promised large rewards for killing Red Shoe plus two of his Choctaw followers. At Fort Tombigbee on 1 April the chiefs of twenty-three pro-French villages decided to kill Red Shoe. Imataha Pouscouche concluded a treaty in Charleston on 18 April. Traders started toward the Choctaw while parties hunted for Red Shoe near the fort. On 22 June he and two traders were killed as he was escorting them from the Creek to the Choctaw. The Choctaw sent Red Shoe’s head and two English scalps to Vaudreuil, who insisted on two more Choctaw scalps and vowed to destroy Red Shoe’s followers. The resulting raids and killings escalated into the civil war that many had feared.

Red Shoe may well have sought to foster Choctaw independence and wealth by imitating the Alabama, who traded with the French and English but refused to fight either one. However laudable his purpose, he gained a reputation for unreliability. Ambitious, magnetic, headstrong, he divided his nation, unintentionally setting it on the road to devastating conflict.

Further Reading

  • Frederick J. Dockstrader, Great North American Indians: Profiles in Life and Leadership (1977)
  • Patricia Galloway, Journal of Mississippi History 44 (1982)
  • Norman J. Heard, Handbook of the American Frontier: Four Centuries of Indian-White Relationships, vol. 1, The Southeastern Woodlands (1987)
  • Harvey Markovitz, ed., American Indians, vol. 3 (1995)
  • Carl Waldman, Biographical Dictionary of American Indian History to 1900 (2001)
  • Mary Ann Wells, Native Land: Mississippi, 1540–1798 (1994)
  • Patricia Dillon Woods, French-Indian Relations on the Southern Frontier (1980)

Citation Information

The following information is provided for citations.

  • Article Title Red Shoe (Shulush Homa)
  • Coverage ca. 1700–1747
  • Author
  • Keywords Red Shoe, Shulush Homa
  • Website Name Mississippi Encyclopedia
  • URL
  • Access Date June 2, 2020
  • Publisher Center for Study of Southern Culture
  • Original Published Date
  • Date of Last Update April 15, 2018