Famous Chickasaw

The Chickasaw are native people of the Southeastern Woodlands. Their traditional territory was in the Southeastern United States in the states of Mississippi, Alabama, and Tennessee. Most Chickasaw now live in Oklahoma, where they were removed to on the Chickasaw Trail of Tears. They are of the Muskogean language family and are federally recognized as the Chickasaw Nation. Famous Chickasaw include:

Bill Anoatubby, Governor of the Chickasaw Nation since 1987

Jack Brisco and Gerry Brisco – pro-wrestling tag team

Charles David Carter, Democratic U. S. Congressman from Oklahoma

Edwin Carewe (1883–1940), movie actor and director.

Charles David Carter – Democratic U. S. Congressman from Oklahoma.

Travis Childers – U.S. Congressman from Mississippi.

Levi Colbert, (Itawambe Miko), Chickasaw language translator,  early leader of the Chickasaw Nation.

George Colbert – Chickasaw chief

Tom Cole, Republican U.S. Congressman from Oklahoma.

Molly Culver, actress.

Czarina Conlan (1871-1958) was a Choctaw-Chickasaw archivist, who curated at the Oklahoma Historical Society museum for 24 years. She founded the first woman’s club in Indian Territory and served as the chair of the Oklahoma Indian Welfare Committee of the Oklahoma State Federation of Women’s Clubs for 12 years.

She was the first woman elected to serve on a school board in the state and though the Attorney General of Oklahoma ruled she could not serve, she defied the order and completed a two-year term on the Lindsay School Board.

Hiawatha Estes, architect.

Bee Ho Gray, actor.

Cyrus Harris – first Governor of the Chickasaw nation.

John Herrington, astronaut; first Native American in space. Herrington was the first Native American to walk in space when launched November 23, 2002 aboard the Space Shuttle Endeavor.

Serving as the flight engineer for launch and landing, Herrington vowed to carry the Chickasaw Nation flag with him into space. Members of his tribe watched the historic launch, and Herrington honored his Native American heritage by carrying six eagle feathers, a braid of sweet grass, two arrowheads, and his nation’s flag.

Linda Hogan, Writer-in-Residence of the Chickasaw Nation.

Miko Hughes, actor

Douglas H. Johnston – governor of Chickasaw Nation 1898-1902 and 1904-1939.

Julia Jones, actress.

Neal McCaleb – civil engineer and politician.

Wahoo McDaniel, pro wrestler, American Football League player.

Leona Mitchell, opera singer.

Rodd Redwing, actor.

Jerod Impichchaachaaha’ Tate – composer and pianist.

Mary Frances Thompson, also known as Te Ata Fisher – storyteller and actress.

Fred Waite, cowboy and Chickasaw Nation statesman.

In 1987 the Chickasaw Nation began honoring Chickasaws who made significant contributions to Chickasaw people or the Native American community by induction into the Chickasaw Nation Hall of Fame. Inductees include:

Marvin E. Mitchell

James E. “Jim” Amerson – first Native American to be elected Commander of the State American Legion.

Edgar Allen Asbury, Jr. – received a Bronze Arrowhead and four Battle Stars for his courage and extensive service in World War II.

Charles William Blackwell – Founded the First American Business Center promoting Native American economic development and entrepreneurship. In 1995, he was appointed as the first Ambassador of the Chickasaw Nation to the United States.

Colbert Latimer “Bud” Baker – Funded the Colbert “Bud” Baker Scholarship established through the Chickasaw Foundation.

Pauline Carpenter Brown – Fluent speaker of the Chickasaw language and notable historian of the Chickasaw culture.

Zane Browning – Helped establish the Chickasaw Nation Health Clinic in Ardmore, Oklahoma.

Colbert Ashalatubbi Burris – Chief negotiator with the US during the Treaty of 1866. Aided in the formal enrollment of Chickasaws for the Dawes Commission.

Sally Chloe Grinslade Bell – Assisted in the writing of the present Chickasaw Nation Constitution.

Winchester Colbert – Negotiated to separate the Chickasaws from the Choctaws. He was a guiding force in framing the Treaty of 1855, which accomplished this. He served 3 terms as Govenor of the Chickasaw Nation. He was also responsible for drafting and executing the Chickasaw Nation freedman emancipation document on October 11, 1866.

Charles David Carter – One of the first elected to represent Oklahoma in the U.S. Congress.

Thomas Jeffery Cole – Served as an Oklahoma state senator and as Oklahoma’s first Republican Secretary of State.

Martin Van Buren Cheadle – Presided over the Chickasaw Senate during the last session of tribal legislature before statehood.

Helen TeAta Gale Cole (half Chickasaw and half Choctaw) – Served for more than nine years in the Oklahoma Senate and six years in the Oklahoma House of Representatives and also served as mayor of Moore, Oklahoma.

Overton M. “Buck” Cheadle – A higher education specialist for the Chickasaw Nation and active on the Chickasaw Tribal Legislature, the Chickasaw Constitution Committee, Chickasaw Nation Education Committee, and the Inter-Tribal Council of the Five Civilized Tribes.

Irene L. Digby – Chickasaw storyteller and teacher of the Chickasaw language.

Rev. Jefferson Davis “Sonny” Frazier -Director of education for the Chickasaw Nation for 17 years.

Te Ata Thompson Fisher (Bearer of the Morning) – Actor and Chickasaw storyteller. She performed in England and Scandinavia, at the White House for President Franklin Roosevelt, for the King and Queen of Great Britain, and on stages across the United States.

Jess Green – His work helped establish the first tribal juvenile court in Oklahoma as well as open the door for tribal gaming in the state.

Geraldine Factor Greenwood – She developed a Chickasaw language curriculum used at different universities. Not only was she an educator, Greenwood also an interpreter of the Chickasaw language. She was honored by the tribe as the “Original Dynamic Woman” of the Chickasaw Nation.

Dr. James Wilburn Hampton – Served twice as president of the Association of American Indian Physicians, numerous awards related to the care of cancer patients and cancer research.

Cyrus Harris – First elected governor of the Chickasaw Nation after the Chickasaw people formally adopted their own constitution in 1856. Elected governor for five different two-year terms. He approved resolutions of Chickasaw secession from the Union on May 25, 1861.

Colbert Franklin Hackler – Musician and music teacher.

Linda Henderson Hogan – Author. Her novel, Mean Spirit , was a finalist for a Pulitzer in 1990 and won an Oklahoma Book Award for Fiction in 1991. She was awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Native Writers’ Circle of the Americas in 1998, the Lifetime Achievement Award from Wordcraft Circle and the Mountains and Plains Lifetime Achievement Award.

Governor Robert Maxwell Harris – Governor Harris was a signer of the Atoka Agreement in 1897, and he also worked to dramatically advance the Chickasaw Nation’s business administration.

Reverend Jesse Humes – A fluent speaker of English, Choctaw, and Chickasaw, he worked with his wife Vinnie May (James) Humes to compile A Chickasaw Dictionary.

Vinnie May Seely James Humes – Along with her husband, Jesse Humes, co-authored “A Chickasaw Dictionary” which is considered the definitive compilation of the language and an invaluable contribution for the Chickasaw people and those learning the Chickasaw language.

Lisa Johnson-Billy – First native american and first woman elected to the Oklahoma House of Representatives in District 42.

Helen Cravatt James – She helped establish, and later managed, the Kullihoma Alcohol/Drug Treatment Center, later renamed the Helen Cravatt James Center in her honor.

Govenor Douglas Henry Johnston – 22nd, 24th and 26th governor of the Chickasaw Nation. First Chickasaw governor to be appointed by the president of the United States. He made ratifications to the Atoka Agreement and worked to maintain tribal control of Chickasaw schools.

The ratification to the Atoka Agreement allowed the Chickasaw and Choctaw Nations to oppose the applications of many who fraudulently applied to the Dawes Commission for Chickasaw citizenship and allotment of property.

Elba “Cutchie” Johnston – Musician. She spent her lifetime serving the Chickasaw people and preserving the Chickasaw culture and history.

James A. Jennings – Remembered as a jurist, scholar, and historian who preserved and recorded the proud history of the Chickasaws. He authored a historical novel which chronicled the removal of his Chickasaw ancestors to Oklahoma in the early 1830s.

Overton James (Indian name – Itoahtubbi) – Youngest man to serve as a Chickasaw govenor, appointed by President Kennedy. He helped lead the Seeley Chapel movement, a grassroots initiative of Chickasaw people who fought to regain the right to once again elect their own leaders and reestablish their status as a sovereign nation. He served five terms as president of the Inter-Tribal Council of the Five Civilized Tribes.

He also served as president of the Choctaw-Chickasaw Confederation, chairman of the State Indian Affairs Commission and trustee of the National Indian Athletic Hall of Fame. He was also a member of the Indian Education Subcommittee of the National Council on Indian Opportunity, and a member of the National Congress of American Indians.

Betty Ruth Kemp – Under her direction, the Northeast Mississippi Historical and Genealogical Society was organized.

Judge Overton “Sobe” Love – almost every office within the Chickasaw Nation, except that of governor as it was not allowed for him to do so.

When the Commission to the Five Civilized Tribes came to Indian Territory to negotiate treaties with the various nations, by common consent Judge Love was named as Treaty Commissioner on behalf of the Chickasaw Nation. He worked extensively with enrollment of the Chickasaw citizens during the days of the Dawes Commission.

Mike Larsen – World-renowned Chickasaw painter and sculptor. Larsen’s talent has won him numerous awards, including Best of Show from the American Indian and Cowboy Artists Association in 1994, master artist by the Five Civilized Tribes Museum in Muskogee, Okla., in 1996, Spirit of Oklahoma Award at the 1997 Masters Show at the Five Civilized Tribes Museum, 2006 Oklahoman of the Year by Oklahoma Today magazine and 2006 Red Earth Honored One at the Red Earth Festival. One of his sculptures stands at the Oklahoma Capitol building.

Kenneth Lance – Entertainer. He traveled the world as a trick roper, rodeo promoter and all-around cowboy.

Tessie “Lushanya” Mobley – One of the world’s most famous and loved operatic sopranos. Sometimes called “Songbird of the Chickasaws.” She was the first American Indian to perform at any of the traditional famed opera houses throughout Europe and the United States.

Ray Gene McCarter – Dr. McCarter has served his community and state as a member of the Oklahoma House of Representatives.
Mary “Ataloa” Stone McClendon – Nationally renowned concert vocalist, educator, and advocate for Native American education and fine arts.

James Cotton McCurtain – McCurtain served as the interpreter during the enrollment period under the Dawes Commission and went on to serve in the Chickasaw Senate.

John McLish – He was in charge of the distribution of Chickasaw annuities prior to removal.McLish served as an adviser to Levi Colbert and, in 1826, became secretary of the Chickasaw Nation, a position he held until his death. His meticulous records were used as proof of fraud against some of the agents who moved the Chickasaws to Indian Territory.

President Andrew Jackson used his relationship with McLish to convince Chickasaws to give up their lands in a peaceful manner, and eventually reside in Oklahoma.

Gov. Palmer Simeon Mosely – Served as the 20th and the 23rd Governor of the Chickasaw Nation. He signed the Atoka Agreement in 1897, a historic contract that began the process of the allotment of tribal lands. In addition, he helped create the Supplemental Agreement. This notable agreement helped to save the Chickasaw Nation millions of dollars.

Neal McCaleb – Served eight years in the Oklahoma House of Representatives and was elected minority floor leader in 1978.He served as a presidential appointee on Ronald Reagan’s Commission on Indian Reservation Economies in the 1980s.As Oklahoma’s secretary of Transportation, Neal McCaleb oversaw the construction and maintenance of the state’s transportation systems.

Euel “Monk” Moore – Major league pitcher, was posthumously inducted into the American Indian Athletic Hall of Fame in May, 1989.

Kenneth Meeler – Chickasaw activist. He helped create the first Chickasaw Constitution.

Benson Pikey – He came to Indian Territory during the time of Chickasaw Removal.Active in the Chickasaw House of Representatives, he was elected as a representative prior to the Civil War and honorably severed as Speaker of the House.

Mr. Pikey fought during the Civil War as a Confederate Captain of Company G, Shecoe’s Chickasaw Battalion Mounted Volunteers.

After the Civil War he established Pikey’s Crossing, one of several important cattle crossings for the Chisholm Trail.

With the land run and the establishment of Oklahoma City, Pikey’s Crossing became the main crossing point on the South Canadian River between Chickasha and Oklahoma City until 1932 when highway bridges made the ferry obsolete.

Robert Perry – Author. He has also served on the Chickasaw Council of Elders since 2004.

Piominko – Pre-removal war chief. Signed of the Treaty of Hopewell in 1786.

William G. Paul – Was inducted into the Oklahoma Hall of Fame Nov. 20, 2003. He was honored by Queen Elizabeth II, English Prime Minister Tony Blair and officials from many other countries for his leadership of the American Bar Association, the largest professional organization in the world.

Samuel Paul – Chickasaw lawman. He lived to only 44 years of age, murdered by his own son, but in the short period of his life, he served in the Chickasaw House of Representatives and Senate, and was a candidate for governor in 1890.He fluently spoke the language of all of the Five Civilized Tribes, as well as English, Kiowa and Comanche.

He was a member of the Lighthorse Police and constable of Pickens County in 1881.

As a lawman, he shot a young non-Indian who was harboring horse thieves. For that act, he was sentenced to a federal prison, but was eventually granted a full pardon by President Chester A. Arthur in 1884.

Thomas Embert Phillips – Chickasaw artist. Phillips was considered to be “the poet of Western artists and a champion of preserving Native American history.” He dedicated his life to painting and sculpting to record and recreate the authentic history of Native Americans.

Judge Haskell Paul – Often referred to as a “walking history book,” Paul was an authority on the Chickasaw culture.

Edmund Pickens – He served as the first chief of the Chickasaw District of the Choctaw Nation in 1841 and became the second controlling Chief Financial Official and Treasurer. Because of his popularity, he was elected Tribal Captain in 1847.

He was instrumental in creating a vehicle to establish an independent Chickasaw government and the definition of duties and powers in which the Chickasaw government representative were to adhere.He served as a volunteer in defense of tribal boundary lines and many of the treaties signed during the later 1800s bear his signature.

Thelma “Chincie” Ross – During World War II, Ms. Ross worked as a code talker administrator. She helped process the Navajo Marine recruits selected to serve as code talkers.

Chenena James Roach – Mrs. Roach and her brother, Overton James, former governor of the Chickasaw Nation, convinced their mother, Vinnie May Humes, and their stepfather, Reverend Jesse Humes, to provide a written translation of the Chickasaw language. This resulted in the first Chickasaw Dictionary, published in 1973.

Along with that dictionary, Mrs. Roach recovered audio tapes of her mother, Mrs. Humes, pronouncing more than 700 Chickasaw words. Those recordings have been compiled on a CD-Rom “Talking Chickasaw Dictionary,” which allows the user to hear the correct pronunciation of each word.

Jesse “Cab” Renick – Chickasaw Olympic Gold Medalist. He play in the starting lineup for the Oklahoma A&M University Aggies (now Oklahoma State University) in Stillwater until leaving to serve in World War II for the U.S. Navy. After leaving the Navy in 1945, Cab jumped back into his playing career and joined the AAU powerhouse Phillips 66ers.

In 1948, Cab and four 66ers teammates joined five players from the University of Kentucky and four other players from around the U.S. to represent the United States Olympic Team in London, England. Cab, as team captain, helped lead the U.S. to an Olympic gold medal, becoming one of only three Native Americans to win an Olympic gold medal.

Rose Shields-Jefferson – Ms. Shields-Jefferson is a fluent Chickasaw speaker, having grown up only speaking the language. She now serves on the Chickasaw Language Committee, helping set standards for components of tribal language and publications.

She has been influential in the continuation of the Chickasaw language by implementing new Chickasaw words, along with taking part in the development of the Chickasaw Language Basics app.

Towana Spivey – Mr. Spivey has authored several books and articles pertaining to frontier history and has served as a primary consultant or been featured in at least 35 television documentaries. He has also worked as a historical consultant to movie productions, playing an intricate role in the development of characters and historical accuracy in the making of the movies “Windtalkers” and “Dances with Wolves.”

Robert R. Stephens – spent much of his life working for the Chickasaws, serving on the original committee that wrote the bylaws for the Chickasaw Nation in 1978. He was director of cultural resources and served as chairman of the cultural committee for the Chickasaw Nation.

He was also the first chairman of the Chickasaw Tribal Legislature and the first commissioner for the Chickasaw Nation Gaming Commission, as well as chairman and vice chairman of the Oklahoma Indian Gaming Association.

Stanley M. Speaks – His 45 tearcareer in the Bureau of Indian Affairs has also involved his service as acting director of Indian education, acting deputy commissioner for Indian affairs and acting director for the Eastern Oklahoma Regional Office. Speaks was key in the progress and development of the Joint Tribal/Department of Interior task force for the reorganization of the Bureau of Indian Affairs.

Eula Pearl Carter Scott – Chickasaw pilot. She became the youngest pilot in the United States with her first solo flight on September 12, 1929 at age 13. She later worked as a stunt pilot.

She was inducted into the Oklahoma Aviation and Space Hall of Fame, the Chickasaw Nation Hall of Fame, the International Women’s Air and Space Museum Hall of Fame, and is a charter member of the National Museum of American Indian at the Smithsonian.

David R. Stout – A former chairman of the tribal legislature, Mr. Stout served as secretary and chairperson of the legislature. While enlisted with the U.S. Army Mr. Stout was awarded the Bronze Star, Purple Heart, and other honors.

Clayburn Straughn – Chickasaw artist. He was best known for his sculptures, but was also a cartoonist and painter.

Thomas Benjamin Thompson, Sr – Last elected Treasurer of the Chickasaw Nation. Clerk of the Chickasaw Supreme Court.

Gene “Nashoba” Thompson– As a leader in the field of entomology, he developed the first program used by the Department of Defense to protect its world-wide food and clothing stockpiles.

Chief Tishu Miko (now written as Tishominko) – Was a principal signer in the Treaties of 1816 and 1818 as well as the Treaty of Pontotoc in 1832. Tishominko was known for leading warriors by example and was highly respected for his honesty and high moral standards.

It is believed that he succumbed to small pox at the advanced age of 104 on the Chickasaw Trail of Tears. His burial site is unknown.The capital city of the Chickasaw Nation carries his name and the Great Seal of the Chickasaw Nation bears his image as a symbol of what it means to be Chickasaw.

Pearl Scott of the Chickasaw Nation learned to fly at age 13 to become the youngest pilot in U.S. History in 1929.

After the birth of her son, Pearl Scott later became one of the tribe’s first medical employees and served three terms in the Chickasaw legislature and is a member of the Oklahoma Aviation and Space hall of fame and the Chickasaw Nation hall of fame.

Recently a portrait of Pearl Scott was unveiled at the Oklahoma State Capitol. Today her grandson Brad Scott says she inspired him, “Never give up and go after your dreams and she did that at such a young age. She’s a role model with so much drive and it’s fantastic.” 

Juanita J. Keel Tate – An accomplished painter, Juanita painted portraits of Chickasaws and Choctaws as well as a number of historical Chickasaw and Choctaw buildings around southern Oklahoma.

She devoted herself to the study of her ancestry and encouraged family and friends to study their genealogy and preserve as much of their history as possible. She was passionate about the preservation of Chickasaw history and culture and encouraged Chickasaws to be prideful of their past.

At the age of 97, she completed a book, a biography of Edmund Pickens (Okchantubby), which was published by the Chickasaw Press. In 2011, she was inducted into the Oklahoma Historians Hall of Fame by the Oklahoma Historical Society.

Margaret Roach Wheeler – An award-winning weaver, fiber expert and textile artist. She served as the artist-in-residence at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian in New York.

Daniel Worcester – Blade smith artist. He forges works of art by hand from found objects like old wagon springs, tools and steel files. With loving precision, he creates one-of-a kind knives. The handles of his art pieces include a variety of materials, such as dominoes, billiard balls, poker chips and sterling silver utensils.

Catherine Pickens Willmond – Co-author of Chickasaw: An Analytical Dictionary , published by the University of Oklahoma Press in 1994. This analytical dictionary is one of the resources used in language classes taught by the Chickasaw Nation.

Mrs. Willmond worked with linguistics professor Pamela Munro to record the language from more than 40 Chickasaw speakers to complete the dictionary.Recently, Mrs. Willmond and Munro completed a teaching grammar of the Chickasaw language which has been accepted for publication by the University of Oklahoma Press.

Adam Charles Walker – A Master Artist of the Oklahoma State Arts Council, helped preserve the tribal art of making stickball sticks, bows, arrows, and tortoise shell shakers.

Chickasaw Nation


Article Index:

George Colbert: The Legacy of a Chickasaw Chief

George Colbert was an important historical figure in Native American history. He was a Chickasaw chief and leader during the nineteenth century. Chief Colbert was instrumental in helping to protect the Chickasaw people during a time of great turmoil and uncertainty.