Chickasaw, Native North Americans whose language belongs to the Muskogean branch of the Hokan-Siouan linguistic stock (see Native American languages). They occupied N Mississippi and were closely related in language and culture to the Choctaw. The Chickasaw warred constantly with the Choctaw, the Creek, the Cherokee, and the Shawnee. The decline of the Chickasaw can be traced to the conflict for control of interior North America between France and Great Britain. Probably because British traders were established in their country before the settlement of Louisiana, the Chickasaw fought on the side of Great Britain, and French attempts to make peace with them were unsuccessful. After 1834 they moved, according to treaty arrangements, to Oklahoma, where they constituted one of the Five Civilized Tribes. In 1990 there were 21,500 Chickasaw in the United States.

See A. M. Gibson, The Chickasaws (1971).


The Chickasaw are Native American people originally from the Southeastern United States (Mississippi, Alabama, Tennessee). They are of the Muskogean linguistic group. The name Chickasaw, as noted by anthropologist John Swanton, belonged to a Chickasaw leader. Chickasaw is the English spelling of Chikashsha (tʃikaʃːa), that means "rebel" or "comes from Chicsa". The Chickasaw were a part of the Mississippian culture which was located throughout the Mississippi River valley. Sometime prior to the first European contact, the Chickasaw moved east and settled east of the Mississippi River. All historical records indicate the Chickasaw lived in northeast Mississippi from the first European contact until they decided to remove to Oklahoma, where most now live. They are related to the Choctaws and share a common history with them. The Chickasaw are divided in two groups: the "Impsaktea" and the "Intcutwalipa". The Chickasaws were one of the "Five Civilized Tribes" who sold their country in 1832 and moved to Indian Territory during the era of Indian Removal. The Chickasaw Nation in Oklahoma is the thirteenth largest federally-recognized tribe in the United States.


Nearly 12,000 years ago, Native Americans or Paleo-indians appeared in the what today is referred to as the South. Paleoindians in the Southeast were fairly generalized hunter-gatherers who pursued a wide range of animals including the megafauna that soon became extinct following the end of the Pleistocene age.

The origin of the Chickasaws is uncertain. Noted historian Horatio Cushman indicates that the Chickasaw, along with the Choctaw, may have had Mexican origins. When Europeans first encountered them, the Chickasaws were living in villages in what is now Mississippi, with a smaller number in the area of Savannah Town, South Carolina. The Chickasaws may have been immigrants to the area and perhaps were not descendants of Indians of the pre-historic Mississippian culture. Their oral history supports this, indicating they moved along with the Choctaws from west of the Mississippi in pre-history.

These people (the choctaw) are the only nation from whom I could learn any idea of a traditional account of a first origin; and that is their coming out of a hole in the ground, which they shew between their nation and the Chickasaws; they tell us also that their neighbours were surprised at seeing a people rise at once out of the earth.|20px|20px|Bernard Romans- Natural History of East and West Florida

The first European contact with the Chickasaws was in 1540, when Spanish explorer Hernando De Soto encountered them and stayed in one of their towns, most likely near present-day Tupelo, Mississippi. After various disagreements, the Chickasaws attacked the De Soto expedition in a nighttime raid, nearly destroying the expedition, soon after which the Spanish moved on. The Chickasaws began to trade with the British after the colony of Carolina was founded in 1670. With British-supplied guns, the Chickasaws raided their enemies the Choctaws, capturing Choctaws and selling them into slavery, a practice that stopped once the Choctaws acquired guns from the French. The Chickasaws were often at war with the French and the Choctaws in the eighteenth century, such as in the Battle of Ackia on May 26, 1736, until France gave up her claims to the region after the Seven Years' War.

In 1793-94 Chickasaw fought as allies of the United States under General Anthony Wayne against the Indians of the old Northwest Territory, who were defeated in the Battle of Fallen Timbers, August 20 1794.

Neither the Choctaws nor Chicksaws ever engaged in war against the American people, but always stood as their faithful allies.|20px|20px|Horatio Cushman- History of the Choctaw, Chickasaw, and Natchez Indians, 1899

United States relations

George Washington (first U.S. President) and Henry Knox (first U.S. Secretary of War) proposed the cultural transformation of Native Americans. Washington believed that Native Americans were equals but that their society was inferior. He formulated a policy to encourage the "civilizing" process, and Thomas Jefferson continued it. Noted historian Robert Remini wrote "they presumed that once the Indians adopted the practice of private property, built homes, farmed, educated their children, and embraced Christianity, these Native Americans would win acceptance from white Americans." Washington's six-point plan included impartial justice toward Indians; regulated buying of Indian lands; promotion of commerce; promotion of experiments to civilize or improve Indian society; presidential authority to give presents; and punishing those who violated Indian rights. The government appointed agents, like Benjamin Hawkins, to live among the Indians and to teach them, through example and instruction, how to live like whites. The Chickasaws accepted Washington's policy as they established schools, adopted yeoman farming practices, converted to Christianity, and built homes like their colonial neighbors.

Hopewell (1786)

The Chicksaws signed the Treaty of Hopewell in 1786. Article 11 of that treaty states: "The hatchet shall be forever buried, and the peace given by the United States of America, and friendship re-established between the said States on the one part, and the Chickasaw nation on the other part, shall be universal, and the contracting parties shall use their utmost endeavors to maintain the peace given as aforesaid, and friendship re-established." Benjamin Hawkins attended this signing.

The Colbert Legacy (1800s)

In the 1700s a Scottish trader by the name of James Logan Colbert settled in Chickasaw country staying there for forty years. He married a Chickasaw woman and had six sons: William, George, Levi, Samuel, Joseph, and Pittman (or James). For nearly a century, the Colberts provided critical leadership during the tribe's greatest challenges. William Colbert once visited U.S. President George Washington who gave him a sprig of willow. William severed with General Andrew Jackson during the Creek Wars of 1813-14. Third generation Colberts, like Winchester and Holmes, created a governmental foundation for the Chickasaw Nation in Indian Country (now known as Oklahoma).

Removal Era (1837)

Unlike other tribes who exchanged land grants, the Chickasaw received financial compensation from the United States for their lands east of the Mississippi River. In 1836 the Chickasaws had reached an agreement that purchased land from the previously removed Choctaws after a bitter five year debate. They paid the Choctaws $530,000 for the westernmost part Choctaw land. The first group of Chickasaws moved in 1837.

The Chickasaws gathered at Memphis Tennessee on July 4, 1837 with all of their assets--belongings, livestock, and slaves. Three thousand and one Chickasaw crossed the Mississippi River, and then they followed routes previously established by Choctaws and Creeks. Once in Indian Territory the Chickasaws merged with the Choctaw nation. After several decades of mistrust, they regained nationhood and established a Chickasaw nation.

The majority of the tribe was deported to Indian Territory (now headquartered in Ada, Oklahoma) in the 1830s. Remnants of the South Carolina Chickasaws, known as the Chaloklowa Chickasaws have reorganized tribal government, and gained official recognition from the state in the summer of 2005, having their tribal headquarters at Indiantown, South Carolina.

American Civil War (1861)

The Chickasaw Nation was the first of the Five Civilized Tribes to vocal their their support for the Confederate States of America. They passed a resolution that was passed by Governor Cyrus Harris on May 25,1861. Earlier that year the United States abandoned Fort Washita leaving the Chickasaw Nation defenseless against the Plains tribes; this was the main motivating factor in the decision to side with the Southern cause. It was the last Confederate community to surrender in the U.S.

This was the first time in history the Chickasaws have ever made war against an English speaking people. |20px|20px|- Governor Cyrus Harris, As Chickasaw troops marched against the Union, 1860s.


The Chickasaws were first combined with the Choctaw Nation and their area in the western area of the nation was called the Chickasaw District. Although originally the western boundary of the Choctaw Nation extended to the 100th Meridian, virtually no Chickasaws lived west of the Cross Timbers due to continual raiding by the Indians on the Southern Plains. The United States eventually leased the area between the 100th and 98th meridians for the use of the Plains tribes. The area was referred to as the "Leased District".

Most government services are administrated from Ada.


Treaty Year Signed with Where Purpose Ceded Land
Treaty with the Chickasaw 1786 United States Hopwell, SC Peace and Protection provided by the U.S. and Define boundaries N/A
Treaty with the Chickasaw 1801 United States Chickasaw Nation Right to make wagon road through the Chickasaw Nation, Acknowledge the protection provided by the U.S. (Not Available yet)
Treaty with the Chickasaw 1805 United States Chickasaw Nation Eliminate debt to U.S. merchants and traders (Not Available yet)
Treaty of with the Chickasaw 1816 United States Chickasaw Nation Cede land, provide allowances, and tracts reserved to Chickasaw Nation (Not Available yet)
Treaty of with the Chickasaw 1818 United States Chickasaw Nation Cede land, payments for land cession, and Define boundaries (Not Available yet)
Treaty of Pontotoc 1832 United States Chickasaw Nation Removal and Monetary gain from the sale of land 6,422,400 acres.


Pashofa, cracked white hominy boiled with pork, is a main dish which is still eaten. Hogs are not native to the Americas but escaped and became feral from De Soto's expedition.

Obion is a Chickasaw Indian name meaning "river of many forks".

The suffix "-mingo" (Chickasaw: minko' ) is used to identify a chieftain. For example, "Tishomingo" was the name of a famous Chickasaw chief. The town of Tishomingo, Mississippi and Tishomingo County, Mississippi were named after him, as was the town of Tishomingo, Oklahoma. South Carolina's Black Mingo Creek was named after the colonial Chickasaw chief, who controlled the lands around it as a sort of hunting preserve. Sometimes it is spelled "minko", but this most generally occurs in older literary references.

Notable Chickasaws

See also


  • Calloway, Colin G. The American Revolution in Indian Country. Cambridge University Press, 1995.see

External links

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