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What are some facts about Choctaw Indians in Mississippi?

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Quick Answer

The Choctaw Indians in Mississippi number about 10,000 people on eight reservations and are the only federally recognized tribe in the state, as of 2015. The Choctaw Indians were reorganized in 1945 under the Indian Reorganization Act of 1934 and named the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians. This reorganization gave them independence from Mississippi's state government, which enforced racial segregation. Until the Civil Rights era of the mid-20th century, Choctaws were discriminated against in dealings off tribal lands.

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Full Answer

The 1786 Treaty of Hopewell, between the United States and the Mississippi Choctaws, added 69,120 acres to federal lands, ostensibly granting the Choctaws federal protection. In 1801, the Choctaws signed the Treaty of Fort Adams, which ceded over 2,000,000 acres to the United States for $2,000 plus blacksmith tools. The Choctaws signed this treaty because of extreme drought and starvation. Successive treaties with the United States annexed more Choctaw land through the 1800s. The tribe lived in extreme poverty until the late 20th century.

The tribe reorganized as a democratic self-government under Roosevelt's Indian Reorganization Act of 1934, and in 1944 the U. S. Secretary of the Interior declared 18,000 acres as theirs in trust. This land constitutes the tribe's eight reservations in Mississippi.

Poverty remained a 20th century problem, as racial segregation and bigotry made tribal employment nearly impossible. Chief Phillip Martin, chief from 1979 to 2007, brought the tribe from a 70 percent unemployment rate in 1997 to less than 3 percent unemployment in 2007. During Martin's time in office, he helped to make the Choctaw Band the third largest employer in the state of Mississippi, partly through the establishment of profitable casinos. The chief, or Miko, of the Choctaws, as of 2015, is Phyliss Anderson. She was elected in 2011 and is the first woman chief of the tribe.

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