Choctaw Tribe

Choctaw Chief Osholatubbee

The Choctaw Tribe
Summary and Definition: The Choctaw tribe descended from the ancient mound builders located in the Mississippi River valley. The Choctaw people moved across the southeast and established large, organised settlements in Mississippi, Alabama, Florida and Louisiana. The Creek people were farmers growing crops of corn, beans, squash, trading surplus produce to other tribes.

Picture of the Choctaw Native Indian
The above picture depicts Mushulatubbee, meaning "Determined to Kill" who was a Chief of the Choctaw. It was painted by the famous artist George Catlin (1796-1872) in 1838. The chief wore European-style clothing, as worn by many of the southeastern tribes with a decorative sash  around his waist. Mushulatubbee led his warriors to assist General Andrew Jackson in the Creek War, also known as the Red Stick War (18131814).

What was the lifestyle and culture of the Choctaw tribe?
The Choctaw tribe are descendants of the people of the Mississippian culture, who built earthwork mounds at their villages located throughout the Mississippi River valley (refer to the Natchez Tribe for more facts). The Creek people established villages across the Deep South and used dugout canoes to travel and trade with many other tribes. Their numbers diminished due to the diseases brought by the Europeans including the Spanish, French and British. They allied with both the French and Americans against the British. Following the War of Independence the 'civilizing programs' began. The Choctaw fought under Andrew Jackson in the Creek War (18131814). Many Creeks adopted European practises such as European style dress, housing and farming techniques but despite this and their loyalty to the Americans they were sent to reservations. The Choctaw tribe became known as one of the Five Civilised Tribes who also included the Cherokee, Creek, Chickasaw and Seminoles tribes.

Where did the Choctaw tribe live?
The Choctaw are people of the Southeast Native American cultural group.  The geography of the region in which they lived dictated the lifestyle and culture of the Choctaw tribe.

  • The Southeast region extended mainly across the states of Louisiana, Tennessee, Alabama, Georgia and Florida
  • Land: River Valleys, mountains and swamps
  • Climate: The climate was hot and humid in the summer and mild in the winter
  • Animals: The  animals included rabbit, wild hog, turkey, opossum, raccoon, squirrel and deer
  • Crops: The crops grown in the area were corn, beans, squash, melons and sunflowers
  • Natural resources: Fruit, seeds and nuts

Choctaw played Stickball
The Choctaw played stickball (called kabucha in Choctaw), the forerunner of lacrosse. The picture by George Catlin depicts Sioux and Choctaw stickball players. One team painted themselves white to distinguish them from the other team. As many as 100 - 1,000 men from opposing tribes or villages would participate in these games. The ball was caught with a netted ball-stick.

What clothes did the Choctaw wear?
The Choctaw men wore breechcloths made from deer skin or bark fabric. The early Creek women wore a knee-length skirt, also made from a bark fabric or deerskin. The above picture shows how the style of clothes worn by the Choctaw in the 1800's were greatly influenced by the Europeans and the availability of trade cloth.

What did the Choctaw tribe live in?
The Creek tribe lived in different styles of shelters over the years. The Mississippian culture people built earthwork mounds at their villages with grass houses, built using a framework of poles and beams covered with wattle and daub mud. The walls were then covered by cane mats and a thatched grass roof.

The ancient style evolved into the wattle and daub house  made by weaving river cane, vines and wood into a framework, then coating the frame with mud and crushed shells. The roof was either thatched with grass or shingled with bark. The American settlers brought new ideas and sharp tools that replaced the stone axes, and some of the Choctaw began to build villages of American-style log cabins as can be seen in the 1869 picture.

What language did the Choctaw tribe speak?
The Choctaw tribe spoke in several related dialects of the Muskogean language family.

What did the Choctaw tribe eat?
The food that the Choctaw tribe ate included their crops of corn, beans and squash. They produced enough surplus produce for trade with other tribes. Creek men also hunted deer, wild turkeys, small game and fish.

What weapons did the Choctaw use?
The weapons used by the Choctaw Native Indians included maces, war clubs, knives, bows and arrows and axes. The Europeans introduced muskets and then rifles. Their main enemies were the Chickasaw tribe.

Choctaw History: What happened to the Choctaw tribe?
The following Choctaw history timeline details facts, dates and famous landmarks of the people. The Choctaw timeline explains what happened to the people of their tribe.

Choctaw History Timeline

  • 700AD: The Mississippian culture began

  • 1526 Lucas Vazquez de Ayllon expedition in South Carolina and Georgia region

  • 1542: The Hernando De Soto expedition encounters the Choctaw.

  • 1500's: Epidemics of smallpox and measles and inter-tribal warfare diminish the Choctaw populations in the late 1500's and 1600's

  • 1682: Rene-Robert Cavelier, Sieur de La Salle explores along the Mississippi River

  • 1713: The French establish a colony and trading posts and the Choctaw become allies of New France

  • 1716: Fort Rosalie established by the French

  • 1702: Queen Anne's War (1702-1713) and the Chickasaw were allied to the French

  • 1736: The Chickasaw Wars (1736, 1739 and 1752) were fought between the Chickasaw tribe allied with the British against the French and their Choctaw allies

  • 1775: Supported the British forces during the American Revolutionary War

  • 1812: The Choctaw fought on the American side in the War of 1812

  • 1813: The Choctaw fought under Andrew Jackson in the Creek War (18131814)

  • 1816: President James Madison appoints David B. Mitchell, a former governor of Georgia, the federal agent to the Creek tribe. Mitchell undermines the Choctaws' sovereignty and initiates acts to take their lands

  • 1820: Treaty of Doak's Stand in which the Choctaw ceded some land

  • 1825: Treaty of Washington City

  • 1830: The Indian Removal Act of 1830

  • 1830: Treaty of Dancing Rabbit Creek

  • 1831: Over 20,000 Choctaw were forcibly marched to Oklahoma across what would become known as the Trail of Tears

  • 1887: The Dawes Act

  • 1893, President Grover Cleveland appoints Senator Henry L. Dawes, to negotiate land with the Cherokee, Creek, Choctaw, Chickasaw and Seminole tribes

  • 1893: The Dawes Rolls, or the Final Rolls of the Five Civilized Tribes, entitled an allotment of land to tribe members, in return for abolishing their governments and recognizing Federal laws

  • 1918: Choctaw Indian Agency in Philadelphia, Mississippi established

  • 1934: The individual allotment policy of the Dawes Act was terminated by the Indian Reorganization Act

Choctaw History Timeline

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Updated 2018-01-01

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