The Jena Band of Choctaw Indians are native to the Southeastern United States and members of the Muskogean linguistic family, which traces its roots to a mound-building, maize-based society that flourished in the Mississippi River Valley for more than a thousand years before European contact. They are a federally recognized indian tribe.
Phone: (318) 992-2717, 1-877-595-6239 or 1-877-970-0109
Email: Contact Form
Official Website: http://www.jenachoctaw.org/
Recognition Status: Federally Recognized
Traditional Name / Traditional Meaning:
Chahta– The name of a legendary chief
Common Name / Meaning of Common Name:
Choctaw – From Chahta
Alternate names / Alternate spellings / Misspellings:
Five Civilized Tribes, Chactaw, Chaktaw, Chatha
Name in other languages:
Region: South Eastern
State(s) Today: Louisiana
The earliest recorded records of the Choctaw Indians was about 1540 in the area of southern Mississippi, and in the early 1700s near present-day Mobile, Alabama, Biloxi, Mississippi, and New Orleans, Louisiana.
After the relinquishment of the Louisiana Colony by France, the Choctaw people moved across the Mississippi River. When the Treaty of Dancing Rabbit Creek was signed in September of 1830, the main Choctaw body ceded all of their land east of the Mississippi River. One band settled in a sizable village near present-day Enterprise, Louisiana and other groups migrated to the pine covered hills of what was then Catahoula Parish in Louisiana.
Eventually the Choctaw, located between present day Monroe and Natchitoches, Louisiana, joined the group in Catahoula Parish. Principle settlements were established on Trout Creek in LaSalle Parish and Bear Creek in Grant Parish.
Confederacy: Muskogean, The Five Civilized Tribes are the Cherokee, Chickasaw, Choctaw, Creek (Muscogee), and Seminole. They are so called because they were some of the first tribes to adopt European culture as their own.
The Choctaw signed nine treaties with the United States before the Civil War, beginning with the Treaty of Hopewell in 1786 – which set boundaries and established universal peace between the two nations. Subsequent treaties, however, reshaped those borders and forced the Choctaw to cede millions of acres of land. In 1830, the United States seized the last of the Choctaw’s ancestral territory and relocated the tribe to Indian Territory west of the Mississippi .
Reservation: Jena Band of Choctaw Reservation
Population at Contact: In 1910, there were only 40 Choctaws located in LaSalle and Catahoula Parishes.
Registered Population Today: Tribal membership now totals approximately 327.
Tribal Enrollment Requirements:
To become a member of the Jena Band of Choctaw Indians you must have a lineal ancestor listed on the 1995 Tribal Roll. You must fill out an Enrollment application and ancestry chart, and you will be asked to submit copied documents such as a certified birth certificate and social security card> A marriage license is not required, but you must have a DNA test done.
You are responsible for making an appointment with the Health Department for DNA testing. Please contact the Health Department at (318) 992-2763. It usually takes about one week for the results of the DNA testing to be mailed to the Health Department. Once the DNA results are back and all documents are completed, the Enrollment Specialist has 20 days to review all documents. If everything is in order, it will be sent to the Enrollment Committee which consists of 5 members. The Enrollment Committee has another 20 working days to review and approve. When approved by the Committee, it will be sent to the Chief and Tribal Council for their review and final approval.
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Language Dialects: The Jena dialect is slightly different than the Oklahoma and Mississippi dialects in some instances.
Number of fluent Speakers: Only a handful of fluent speakers remain.
Bands, Gens, and Clans
The Choctaw like all of the Muscogean tribes was a matriarchal and clan culture. There were two distinct Moieties: Imoklashas (elders) and Inhulalatas (youth). Each moiety had several clans or Iskas, it is estimated there were about 12 Iskas altogether. Identity was established first by Moiety and Iska, so a Choctaw identified himself first as Imoklasha or Inhulata and second as Choctaw.TheChoctaw clans include the Wind, Bear, Deer, Wolf, Panther, Holly Leaf, Bird, Raccoon and Crawfish Clans.
The Choctaw were early allies of the French, Spanish and British during the 18th century. About 60 Muskogean speaking villages were located near their original villages.
In the 1750’s the tribe was involved in a Civil War that decimated whole villages. The division was driven by factions affiliated with the Spanish and the other the French. In the 18th century the Choctaw were generally at war with the Creeks or the Chickasaw Indians.
Ceremonies / Dances / Games:
Modern Day Events & Tourism: Annual Powwow in the Pines
Legends / Oral Stories:
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Religion & Spiritual Beliefs:
Education and Media:
Prior to the end of World War II, Choctaw children were not allowed to attend school with white children. Indian children did not attend school for many years. In 1932, a small school building called The Penick Indian School was constructed and opened in Eden, Louisiana where twenty students attended the all-Indian school. When funding for the school was no longer available it closed. One year later the Department of Indian Affairs provided funding and the school was reopened.
During this time the Office of Indian Affairs proposed moving the Choctaws who were willing, to Federal Trust land in Mississippi. Many were willing to move but the beginning of World War II interrupted those plans and brought about the final closure of the Penick Indian School and the Jena Choctaw Indians did not attend school again until 1943. The year after the end of World War II Choctaw children were allowed to attend public schools.
Famous Choctaw Chiefs and Leaders:
Although their first encounter with Europeans ended in a bloody battle with Hernando de Soto’s fortune-hunting expedition in 1540, the Choctaw would come to embrace European traders who arrived in their homeland nearly two centuries later. Following the Revolutionary War, many Choctaw had already intermarried, converted to Christianity and adopted other white customs.
The Choctaw Tribe of Oklahoma ended up in Oklahoma after a forced march from their homeland, now referred to as the Trail of Tears. Many different Indian tribes had their own trail of tears, but the Choctaw were the first tribe to make this trek to what was then Indian Territory, now called Oklahoma.
During World War I and II, the U.S. Military used members of the Choctaw Nation for secure communications. They became the first code-talkers.
In the News: