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The Choctaw before Removal

The Choctaw before Removal

Edited by Carolyn Keller Reeves
the editor
Samuel J. Wells
William Brescia
Margaret Zehmer Searcy
Grayson Noley
Patricia K. Galloway
John D. W. Guice
Robert B. Ferguson
Copyright Date: 1985
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  • Book Info
    The Choctaw before Removal
    Book Description:

    This book of eight essays focuses upon Choctaw history prior to 1830, when the tribe forfeited territorial claims and was removed from native lands in Mississippi. The editors have included essays emphasizing Choctaw anthropology, Choctaw beliefs, and the Choctaw experience with the U.S. government prior to the tribe's removal to Oklahoma.

    Attention is focused upon the ways in which the Choctaw ideology was affected by European groups, frontiersmen, and state and federal officials. It is a collection of essays that shows the relationship among the various forces that combined to erode the culture, economy, and political structure of the Choctaw.

    eISBN: 978-1-60473-699-1
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
    (pp. vii-viii)
  4. INTRODUCTION: Who Speaks for the Choctaw?
    (pp. ix-2)
    Carolyn Keller Reeves and Samuel J. Wells

    Although the longitudinal impact upon the Choctaw and other Native American groups of European settlement has been documented, no book-length analysis describes the anthropological condition of the Choctaw as well as the relationships among the combined forces which eroded the cultural, economical, and political foundations of the Choctaw prior to their removal to Oklahoma. Nor, in spite of their role as central characters in Mississippi history, is there a chronological presentation of significant experiences encountered by the Choctaw prior to removal. Histories have not focused on the Choctaw. Furthermore no available study combines cultural anthropology with history to examine the...

  5. 1 Choctaw Oral Tradition Relating to Tribal Origin
    (pp. 3-16)
    William Brescia Jr.

    Members of the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians do not use the common European terms “legends,” “fables,” and “myths” to distinguish among the many different aspects of their oral tradition. The Choctaw use the term “stories” in reference toallaspects of their oral tradition, and I will do so as well.

    The Choctaw tell several kinds of stories which serve a variety of purposes. Some stories explain “why things are the way they are” (e.g., “Why the Opossum Has a Large Mouth” and “Why a Man’s Toe looks like a Snake’s Head”); others provide “rules or suggested behaviors” for...

  6. 2 Some Observations about the Choctaw Language of the Early Nineteenth Century
    (pp. 17-31)
    Carolyn Keller Reeves

    TheChoctaw Testamentis one of the earliest works translated into the Choctaw language during the period of Choctaw history dealt with in the present book, hence my decision to use it for the purpose of describing selected aspects of Choctaw grammar.¹ Even though theTestamenttranslates the English used in the King James Version of the New Testament, the imposition of English grammar upon the Choctaw translation should have been minimal.² Choctaw syntax (word order) is likely to have been negligibly affected by English syntax during translation; however, both the phonemic (sound unit) and morphemic (meaning unit) representations of...

  7. 3 Choctaw Subsistence, 1540–1830: Hunting, Fishing, Farming, and Gathering
    (pp. 32-54)
    Margaret Zehmer Searcy

    Historically the Choctaw comprised one of the largest, most prosperous, well-organized Native American groups in the Southeast. They were farmers who supplemented their diet by hunting, fishing, and gathering. Subsistence activities involved the total community and formed the base upon which social organization depended. The Choctaw were so successful that they produced a surplus, which they traded with other groups of people in the area.

    The de Soto expedition first explored Choctaw territory in 1540 and wrote about the prosperous farming communities and well-established towns. From the time of that tragic visit until the Choctaw were unjustly deprived of their...

  8. 4 1540: The First European Contact
    (pp. 55-72)
    Grayson Noley

    The air was crackling with excitement as the Choctaws prepared for the annual national council at which they would celebrate the harvest and would conduct the business of the people. This gathering in 1540 would be particularly important to the Choctaws as it was virtually certain that the pale-skinned visitors from unknown lands, Spanish explorers who called themselves “Christians,” would soon be in their midst. This impending event gave the Choctaws cause for concern, as stories about the habits of the strange men were quite incomprehensible.¹

    One story indicated that the explorers were afraid to harvest the game provided by...

  9. 5 The Early 1700s: Education, Economics, and Politics
    (pp. 73-119)
    Grayson Noley

    The available literature concerning early Choctaw education is of three different types: writings by early European observers of native people, scholarly interpretations of these writings by later social scientists, and traditional stories told by members of the Choctaw Nation.

    Early writings consist of narratives provided by various explorers, traders foreign soldiers, colonial officials, agents of foreign governments, and other foreign travelers. Although education was not of primary interest to any of these observers, they mentioned activities some of which have been interpreted by later scholars as educational in nature. Perhaps the most important aspect of this literature is that it...

  10. 6 Choctaw Factionalism and Civil War, 1746–1750
    (pp. 120-156)
    Patricia K. Galloway

    Most treatments of the Choctaw intratribal war of 1746–1750 have been brief, and few have said more than that it took place and that it involved factions supported by the French and the English. The one really extended study of these events, a 1946 dissertation by William Paape, offers an excellent analysis from the European point of view, but has the drawback of being generally unavailable.¹ Constraints of space prevent me from analyzing every facet of the conflict. Rather I shall present, and argue, the thesis that this civil war, as a response to the French version of the...

  11. 7 Face to Face in Mississippi Territory, 1798–1817
    (pp. 157-180)
    John D. W. Guice

    From the initial European intrusion until the end of the Jacksonian Era, no stage of Mississippi Indian history was marked by such rapid and profound change as the territorial period. While the forces eroding the foundation of Native American culture first appeared in 1540 with de Soto, they intensified in direct proportion to the growth of Anglo-American population and government. By 1817, the societies indigenous to the region had been almost totally undermined.

    When Pinckney initiated the Treaty of San Lorenzo in 1795, the tribes were regarded as nations. Native Americans vastly outnumbered white immigrants, and the natives enjoyed a...

  12. 8 Federal Indian Policy: From Accommodation to Removal
    (pp. 181-213)
    Samuel J. Wells

    Prior to the establishment of the Mississippi Territory in 1798, and for a brief time afterwards, American policy toward the Choctaw had centered on a conciliatory alliance in deference to the strong military potential which the tribe possessed. Yet the policy of the U.S. government changed noticeably in the early 1800s, seemingly in reaction to the fear that the tribe would form foreign alliances. Moreover, federal policy continued to shift away from accommodation of the Choctaw and increasingly stressed the avid pursuit of land cessions from the tribe, which in turn led to increased white immigration into the area. The...

  13. APPENDIX: Treaties between the United States and the Choctaw Nation
    (pp. 214-230)
    Robert B. Ferguson
  14. Selected Bibliography
    (pp. 231-235)
  15. Contributors
    (pp. 236-237)
  16. Index
    (pp. 238-243)