Choctaw Indians - Chahta - Five Civilized Tribes
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 Choctaw Indians
 Choctaw Tribe
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Choctaw Indians Index

The Choctaw Indian Nation is a Muskogean tribe also known as Chakchiuma, or Chatot. They call themselves Chahta in the Choctaw language, which was the name of a legendary Choctaw leader, and also means "the people."

Today, the Choctaw are split into three separate federally recognized tribes, each with their own government, as well as several state recognized choctaw tribes.

The two largest tribes are the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians (Choctaw Tribe) and the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma (Choctaw Nation). The Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians live on a reservation, which is land that belongs to the tribe and is under their control. The Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma lives on trust land.

Alabama Choctaw

MOWA Band of Choctaw Indians (State Recognized)

The MOWA Choctaw Indians of South Alabama are a segment of the Choctaw Indians who refused to migrate from their homeland during the infamous removal known as the “Trail of Tears.” They were originally members of the Choctaw Nation relocated to Oklahoma.

After the enactment of the Trail of Tears, the President issued a degree declaring that the Indians, who in the past owned land, could homestead forty acres on the condition they no longer speak their own language, practice their religion, or call themselves a tribe. Very little is known of the MOWA Choctaw Indians between the 1830’s and 1890’s; few records were kept.

The MOWA Band of Choctaw Indians was duly incorporated in 1979 with its tribal office located in McIntosh and purchased their first 160 acres of land in south Washington County in 1983. They adopted the name “MOWA Choctaw Indians” to identify the Indians in Mobile and Washington Counties who are descended from several Indian Tribes: Choctaw, Creek, Cherokee, Mescalero, and Apache.

Today, the MOWA Choctaw Reservation is located on 300 acres in between the small southwestern Alabama communities of McIntosh, Mt. Vernon and Citronelle. Aside from the reservation, tribal citizens numbering around 3,600, live in 10 small settlements near the reservation community. In all, they number about 6,000 as of the 2000 census.

They are led by elected Chief Wilford Taylor and are some of the descendants of those Choctaw people who refused removal at the time of the 1830 Treaty of Dancing Rabbit Creek. Their annual cultural festival, which includes Choctaw social dancing, stickball games, Choctaw princess contest and an inter-tribal pow wow occurs on the third weekend of June each year on their reservation lands.

California Choctaw Indians

California has the second largest population of Choctaw Indians in the United States with approximately 26,000 members of the Choctaw Nation. They are often descendents of Dust Bowl refugees who migrated from Oklahoma seeking jobs in urban areas and farming communities.

The California Choctaw, or Aiokpachi, are organized as Okla Chahta Clan of CA, Inc. They are a clan or an Iksa - a family. The definition of a Clan or Iksa is a multi generational group having a shared identity, organization and property based on the belief in their decent from common ancestors.

Californa Choctaw are not a separate tribe. Most are decendents of the Oklahoma Choctaw Nation.

Mississippi Choctaw

Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians (Federally Recognized)

Old Choctaw country in Mississippi before removal. Old Choctaw country included dozens of towns like Lukfata, Koweh Chito, Oka Hullo, Pante, Osapa Chito, Oka Cooply, and Yanni Achukma located in and around Neshoba and Kemper counties.

The oldest Choctaw settlement is located in Neshoba county. The bones of great warriors are buried there.

Choctaws regularly traveled hundreds of miles from their homes for long periods of time. They set out early in the fall and returned to their reserved lands at the opening of spring to plant their gardens. At that time they visited the Europeans at Columbus, Miss., Macon, Brookesville, and Crawford, and the region where Yazoo City now is.

The Choctaw Indian Reservation contains some 35,000 acres of Tribal lands situated in ten different Mississippi counties. This land is held in trust for the benefit of the Choctaw Tribe by the federal government. Presently, this Mississippi indian reservation has 8 communities: Bogue Chitto, Bogue Homa, Conehatta, Crystal Ridge, Pearl River, Red Water, Tucker, and Standing Pine. These communities are located in parts of ten counties throughout the state, although the largest concentration of land is in Neshoba County, which comprises more than two-thirds of the reservation's land area and over 62 percent of its population as of the 2000 census. Pearl River, located in Neshoba County, is the largest Choctaw Indian community, and is the site of Tribal government headquarters, as well as Pearl River Resort. The total land area is 84.282 km˛ (32.541 sq mi), and its official total resident population was 5,190 persons as of the 2000 census. The Choctaws still living in Mississippi make up the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians, led by Chief Phillip Martin.

More than 8,000 members live in central Mississippi, and almost 90 percent of the members are fluent in the Choctaw language. The Choctaw language is still spoken by most adults on the reservation, but younger tribal members are less likely to be fluent in the language. They still produce traditional Choctaw crafts, such as beadwork, cane and oak basketry, and woodwork.

Oklahoma Choctaw

Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma (Federally Recognized)

Most Choctaws were forcibly removed from Mississippi to Oklahoma during the 1830s. Choctaws contributed much to the early history of Oklahoma, even giving the state its name. Former Principal Chief Allen Wright suggested the name Oklahoma, from a contraction of the Choctaw words okla ("people") and humma ("red"). A former governor of the Choctaw Nation, Gilbert Wesley Dukes, was the Republican nominee for Lieutenant Governor of Oklahoma in the first state-wide election, and though he lost, drew a significant percentage of the overall vote.

Oklahoma Choctaws comprise the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma. The Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma homeland consists of trust land in ten and one-half counties in the southeastern part of Oklahoma. The Choctaw Nation is bounded on the east by the State of Arkansas, on the south by the Red River, on the north by the South Canadian, Canadian and Arkansas Rivers. The western boundary generally follows a line slightly west of Durant, then due north to the South Canadian River.

They do not have a reservaton where the tribe owns a continuous block of land. Trust land is held "in trust" by the US Government for individual Indian families.

The capitol building, which was built in 1884, is located in Tuskahoma. Their elected Chief is Gregory E. Pyle, and the Nation's headquarters are located in Durant, Oklahoma, the nation's second largest city. McAlester is currently Choctaw Nation's largest city. Approximately 250,000 people live within the Choctaw Nation boundaries in Southeastern Oklahoma.

Louisiana Choctaw

Jena Band of Choctaw Indians (Federally Recognized)

The Jena Band of Choctaw Indians are located in LaSalle and Catahoula Parishes. The Jena Band received federal recognition in 1995. Tribal membership totals 241.

United Houma Nation (State Recognized)

The United Houma Nation is headquartered at Golden Meadow, Louisiana and has numerous communities located in the bayous of Southeastern Louisiana. Many of their communities were destroyed by Hurricane Katrina. Their total population stands at 17,000. They are Choctaw-related people.

Biloxi-Chitimacha-Choctaw Tribe of Louisiana (State Recognized)

The Biloxi-Chitimacha Confederation of Muskogees are located in the Lafourche and Terrebonne Parishes of Louisiana. The Grand Caillou/Dulac Band, Isle de Jean Charles Band, and Bayou Lafourche Band are the three ancestrally related bands or tribal communities.

Some of the tribal members refer to themselves simply as Biloxi-Chitimacha, but they are an amalgamation of several tribes which include Biloxi, Chitimacha, Choctaw, Acolapissa, and Atakapa. Each community is governed by its own tribal council and advised by their respective Council of Elders.

All three bands are in very close geographical proximity, all being within a 10-15 mile radius. Because of this closeness in geography, ancestry, and family ties it was very logical to form an alliance between the three tribal communities. Collectively they are represented by the Biloxi-Chitimacha Confederation of Muskogees.

Choctaw-Apache of Ebarb (State Recognized)

The Choctaw-Apache of Ebarb are descendants of Choctaw and Apache people who live near the town of Zwolle, Louisiana in the extreme western part of the state of Lousiana. Their tribal enrollment stands at 2,000.

Bayou Lacombe Choctaw

The Bayou-Lacombe Choctaw community is located in the far eastern section of Louisiana, and is home to 300 tribal citizens.

Clifton Choctaw

The Clifton Choctaw are located in Clifton, Louisiana in the central part of the state and number around 500 tribal citizens.

Choctaw Overview

The Choctaw territory originally covered the American southeast, particularly Mississippi, and parts Alabama, Louisiana, and Florida. The US Government made treaties with the Choctaw in 1786, 1801, 1802, 1803, 1805, 1816, 1820, 1825, and 1830.

Between 1801 and 1830, the Choctaw ceded more than 23 million acres to the United States. The Treaty of Dancing Rabbit Creek in 1830 marked the final cession of lands and outlined the terms of Choctaw removal to the west. When the Treaty of Dancing Rabbit Creek was signed, there were over 19,000 Choctaws in Mississippi. From 1831 to 1833, approximately 13,000 Choctaws were removed to the west.The Choctaw Nation was the first American Indian tribe to be removed by the federal government from its ancestral home to land set aside for them in what is now Oklahoma.

The Choctaw, along with five other southern tribes were moved to Oklahoma following the treaty of Dancing Rabbit Creek in 1830. Many Choctaw died from disease, famine and attacks from white men and hostile Indians including the Comanche, during this transition, which came to be known as the "Trail of Tears."

Those who adjusted to the relocation were soon assimilated by religious missionaries sent to Oklahoma in an effort to "civilize" the Natives. The missionaries stressed the importance of education in the goal of establishing a better rapport with the white man. Along with four other tribes, the Choctaw became known as one of the Five Civilized Tribes because of their willingness to adapt to European ways.

First contact with Europeans by the Choctaw is thought to have been with DeSoto around 1540.

The Choctaw sided with the Confederates during the Civil war of 1860, an alliance which prompted the Choctaw to become the first US Indian tribe to adopt a flag of their own; the flag, carried by the Choctaw Confederate Soldiers, features a circle surrounding a calumet, and a bow with three arrows symbolizing the three Choctaw Sub-Nations.

Choctaw Index

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