Our Choctaw Indian Family

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The Choctaw Indians are the most numerous branch of the Muskogean language group, which also includes Chickasaw, Creek, Seminole, and Natchez. They are classed as one of the "Five Civilized Tribes."

In historic times they inhabited the region of southeastern Mississippi and extreme southwestern Alabama, having migrated to that region from the west at an earlier, undetermined time. Choctaws are closely associated with the Chickasaws, and many of their early legends indicate that the two tribes descended from a common people. Apparently, after crossing the Mississippi, two brothers who had led the nation separated-the Chickasaws moving north and the Choctaws south.

American contact began in the late eighteenth century and became gradually more significant by the turn of the century. Between 1801 and 1830 the Choctaws signed a series of treaties with the United States, by which they ceded virtually all of their Mississippi lands in exchange for territory in Oklahoma.

After the Treaty of Dancing Rabbit Creek (1830), the remaining Choctaw lands were ceded, and the Choctaws agreed to move to Oklahoma or apply for allotments under article 14 of the treaty. A census of the Choctaw population before removal indicated a total of 19,554. Approximately 12,500 migrated west, 2,500 died, and 5,000 to 6,000 remained east of the Mississippi. Of those migrating to Indian Territory, more than 700 split off to move to Texas, which was then part of Mexico. Apparently a few families had drifted into Texas earlier, for in 1830 ten to fifteen families lived on the Texas frontier.

Choctaws were participants in the Cherokee Treaty of February 23, 1836. Members of the tribe resided in Nacogdoches and Shelby counties in 1837 and were considered friendly. The Choctaws continually boasted that they had never made war on the white man and apparently remained at peace with the Texans during their residence in the republic.

The Texas Senate refused to ratify the Cherokee Treaty, and further efforts to secure territory for the Cherokees and their allied tribes also failed. The Indians' situation deteriorated further when Mirabeau B. Lamar became president of the Republic of Texas. His aggressive policy toward the Indians resulted in a two-day battle at the headwaters of the Sabine with the Cherokees and their allies in July 1839.

After their defeat, most of the Indians abandoned their homes and fled to Mexico or the United States. The Choctaws probably joined their kinsmen on their reservation in southeastern Oklahoma.

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