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Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians

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The band didn't have a lot to do with it directly, but a 1,000-acre lake is taking shape off U.S. 98 southeast of Bude, Miss. "It is official," said Homochitto National Forest District Ranger Gary Bennett. "The lake being built on forest lands in Franklin County, Miss., is named Okhissa Lake. In Choctaw, okhissa is the word for porter. It all started with Franklin County librarian Jo Porter who grew up in the Berrytown community several miles from Porter Creek. She said she isn't sure if it was named for her ancestors. She wanted Porter in the lake's name somehow but Forest Service officials told her Porter Creek Lake probably wouldn't make the cut - there were 108 entries to name it. She looked up the meaning of porter - a gatekeeper or doorkeeper and then asked Choctaw officials on a Neshoba County reservation what it would be in their language. Finally a "gentleman in Philadelphia" gave her the word Okhissa. In her nomination, Porter wrote: "The Choctaws were influential in keeping what we have today, and hopefully we can continue this as we provide recreation and fun for our community and country. Officials say once the dam is completed it will take about two years for the lake to fill.

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