Choctaw Eagle Dance, George Catlin, 1845-8

Choctaw Tribe

Choctaw Tribe – Choctaw Indians (possibly a corruption of the Spanish chato, ‘flat’ or ‘flattened,’ alluding to the custom of these Indians of flattening the head).    An important tribe of the Muskhogean stock, formerly occupying middle and south Mississippi, their territory extending, in their most flourishing days, for some distance east of Tombigbee River, probably as far as Dallas County, Georgia. Ethnically they belong to the Choctaw branch of the Muskhogean family, which included the Choctaw, Chickasaw, Huma and their allies, and some small Indian tribes which formerly lived along Yazoo River. The dialects of the members of this branch are so closely related that they may be considered as practically identical 1.

Choctaw Tribe History and Ethnology

Choctaw Eagle Dance, George Catlin, 1845-8
Choctaw Eagle Dance, George Catlin, 1845-8.
The Choctaw give the Eagle Dance once a year, to the War Eagle, the bird that conquers all other varieties of the Eagle species; and the tail feathers of the Eagles the Choctaw use to decorate the heads of the brave.

The earliest notice of the Choctaw Tribe is found in the De Soto narratives for 1540. The giant Tascalusa, whom he met in his march down Coosa Valley and carried to Mauvila, was a Choctaw chieftain; and the natives who fought the Spaniards so fiercely at this town belonged to a closely related tribe. When the French, about the beginning of the 18th century, began to settle colonies at Mobile, Biloxi, and New Orleans, the Choctaw came early into friendly relations with them and were their allies in their wars against other Indian tribes. In the French War on the Natchez, in 1730, a large body of Choctaw warriors served under a French officer. They continued this friendship until the English traders succeeded in drawing over to the English interest some of the east Choctaw towns. This brought on a war between them and the main body, who still adhered to the French, which continued until 1763. The Choctaw Tribe was constantly at war with the Creeks and Chickasaw. After the French had surrendered their American possessions to Great Britain, in 1763, and to some extent previously thereto, members of the tribe began to move across the Mississippi, where, in 1780, Milfort 2 met some of their bands who were then at war with the Caddo. About 1809 a Choctaw village existed on Wichita River, and another on Bayou Chicot, Opelousas Parish, Louisiana. Morse (1820) says there were 1,200 of them on the Sabine and Neches Rivers, and about 140 on Red River, near Pecan point 3. It is stated by some historians that this tribe, or parties of it, participated in the Creek War; this, however, is emphatically denied by Halbert 4, who was informed in 1877 by some of the oldest members of the tribe that the Choctaw manifested no hostility toward the Americans during this conflict. A small band of perhaps 30 were probably the only Choctaw with the Creeks. The larger part of those in Mississippi began to migrate to Indian Territory in 1832, having ceded most of their lands to the United States in various treaties 5.

  • Choctaw Indians – Swanton
  • The Choctaw of Bayou Lacomb
    This collection depicts the specific culture and history of the Choctaw tribe residing within Bayou Lacomb, Louisiana. Included are the geography, history, society, language, ethnology, and myths, legends and religion of the Choctaws who resided within the area of Bayou Lacomb. By the people of the tribe, or, more correctly, that portion of the tribe now under consideration, they themselves are called the Chata’ogla or the Chata’ people or family. According to them, the first word can not be translated as it is merely a proper name.
  • History of the Choctaw, Chickasaw and Natchez Indians
  • 1822 Congressional Report on Indian Affairs
    Jedediah Morse's 1822 report to Congress of his travels through Indian Territory on behalf of the office of Secretary of War - Jedediah was tasked by a resolution of Congress to report of his travels amongst the tribes throughout the United States. Acknowledging that he did not visit all of the tribes, and that he relied on known facts and materials for the body of text he provided, Jedediah presented a large collection of tabular data and descriptive content. This data was then used by Congress to shape it's policies as it dealt with expansion further west, and specifically tribal relations.
  • Indian Missions of the Southern States

Choctaw Tribe Phratries

According to Morgan 6 the Choctaw were divided into two phratries, each including 4 gentes, as follows:

A. Kushapokla (Divided people)

  1. Kushiksa (Reed)
  2. Lawokla
  3. Lulakiksa
  4. Linoklusha

B. Watakihulata (Beloved people)

  1. Chufaniksa (Beloved people)
  2. Iskulani (Small people)
  3. Chito (Large people)
  4. Shakchukla (Crayfish people)

Besides these, mention is made of a gens named Urihesahe 7, which has not been identified. Morgan’s list is probably far from complete.

Consult further:

Choctaw Tribe Culture and Life

The Choctaw were preeminently the agriculturists of the southern Indians. Though brave, their wars in most instances were defensive. No mention is made of the “great house,” or “the square,” in Choctaw towns, as they existed in the Creek communities, nor of the busk. The game of chunkey, as well as the ball play, was extensively practiced by them. It was their custom to clean the bones of the dead before depositing them in boxes or baskets in the bone-houses, the work being performed by “certain old gentlemen with very long nails,” who allowed their nails to grow long for this purpose. The people of this tribe also followed the custom of setting up poles around the new graves, on which they hung hoops, wreaths, etc., to aid the spirit in its ascent. As their name seems to imply, they practiced artificial head flattening.

  • Choctaw Nation Schools in 1904
  • The Choctaw Freedmen and Oak Hill Industrial Academy
    The aim of the Author in preparing this volume has been to put in a form, convenient for preservation and future reference, a brief historical sketch of the work and workers connected with the founding and development of Oak Hill Industrial Academy, established for the benefit of the Freedmen of the Choctaw Nation, Indian Territory, by the Presbyterian Church, U. S. A., in 1886, when Miss Eliza Hartford became the first white teacher, to the erection of Elliott Hall in 1910, and its dedication in 1912; when the name of the institution was changed to "The Alice Lee Elliott Memorial."
  • The MOWA Choctaws
    Extinction by Reclassification: The MOWA Choctaws of South Alabama and Their Struggle for Federal Recognition - In the 1930s, Carl Carmer, a professor at the University of Alabama and author of Stars Fell on Alabama, traveled around Alabama collecting unusual stories. He said that he chose "to write of Alabama not as a state which is part of a nation, but as a strange country in which I once lived." One of his stories describes his efforts to determine the ancestry of the so-called Cajuns who lived around Citronelle in southwest Alabama. Carmer’s story provoked a flurry of interest in the “Cajans,” when in reality they were not Cajun at all. Instead, they were descendants of the indigenous Choctaw Indians of southwest Alabama. Originally appearing in The Alabama Review, Volume 59, July 2006, pages 163-204.
  • Treaty of Dancing Rabbit Creek
    This section of our website is being created for those who have searched in vain for their Mississippi Choctaw Ancestors. Many knowledgeable people have contributed information to help you find these missing ancestors. Because of the controversy of the Article 14 Claimants it may not be possible to establish tribal affiliation, but with the help of so many it may be possible to prove that your family was indeed Native American.
  • The Indian Races of North and South America
    The Indian Races of North and South America provides ethnographic information (manners, peculiarities and history) on the tribes of North and South America. We've added pictures to the mix, to provide some sort of visual reference for the reader. This is an important addition to AccessGenealogy's collection for it's inclusion of tribes in South America and Central America, as well as the Caribbean Islands.
  • The Five Civilized Tribes in Oklahoma
    Five Civilized Tribes in Oklahoma - This manuscript has been extracted from Congressional records relating to relief of specific individuals of the Five Civilized Tribes in Oklahoma. If one of your ancestors was rejected or added to the rolls of any of the five civilized tribes in Oklahoma you should peruse the information here. It contains a lot of case work involving specific Native Americans and those that attempted to prove themselves as part of the tribes.
  • Life Among the Choctaw Indians
    Henry Benson worked as a missionary amongst the Choctaw at the Fort Coffee Academy for Boys in the mid 1800's. In this manuscript he depicts the formation of the Academy and missionary amongst the Indians, providing valuable insight into the tribal customs of the Choctaw after they had been forcibly moved to the Indian Territory. He also provides glimpses into the lives of westerners before the Civil War in the south-west.
  • A Bill to Reopen the Rolls of the Choctaw-Chickasaw Tribe
  • Choctaw Mixed Bloods and the Advent of Removal
    Choctaw Mixed Blood and the Advent of Removal: This dissertation by Samuel James Wells lists the names and families of the known mixed bloods and examines their role in tribal history, especially regarding land treaties during the Jeffersonian years preceding Removal. This dissertation includes a database of over three thousand names of known and probable mixed bloods drawn from a wide range of sources and therefore has genealogical as well as historical value.
  • Col. William Wards Register
    Colonel William Ward was appointed United States agent to register Choctaw Indians according to Article 14 of the Treaty of Dancing Rabbit Creek, September 1830. The treaty was ratified February 24, 1831 and the six month time limit for those wishing to remain ended August 24, 1831. The registration procedure resulted in numerous "contingent claims" by members of the Choctaw Nation.

Choctaw Indians Chiefs and Leaders

Choctaw Indians Rolls and Census

Choctaw Language

There are, or at least were formerly, several dialects spoken in different sections; these, however, differed so little that they have not been considered worthy of special mention.

  • The Chahta Language
  • Chahta is a derivative for Choctaw, so the following information is referencing the Choctaw Language. The Chahta Language, the representative of the western group of Maskoki dialects, differs in its phonetics from the eastern dialects chiefly by the more general vocalic nasalization previously alluded to.

Choctaw Tribe Treaties

Choctaw Tribe Land Claims

Choctaw Locations

The small Muskhogean tribes known as MobilianTohome or Tomez, TawasaMugulashaAcolapissaHuma, and Conshac, on the gulf coast of Mississippi and Alabama, are sometimes called Choctaw, but the Choctaw proper had their villages inland, on the upper courses of the Chickasawhay, Pearl, and Big Black Rivers, and the west affluent of the Tombigbee. At least in later times they were distinguished into three sections, each under its mingo or chief. The western division was called Oklafalaya, ‘the long people,’ and consisted of small, scattered villages; the northeastern, Ahepatokla (Oypatukla), ‘potato-eating people,’ and the southeastern district came to be called Oklahannali, ‘Sixtowns,’ from the name of the dominant subdivision. The people of these two latter districts lived in large towns for mutual defense against their constant enemies the Creeks. Gatschet gives Cobb Indians as the name of those Choctaw settled west of Pearl River.

The population of the Choctaw Tribe when it first came into relations with the French, about the year 1700, has been estimated at front 15,000 to 20,000. Their number in 1904 was 17,805, exclusive of 4,722 Choctaw freedmen (Negroes). These are all under the Union Agency, Indian Territory. To these must be added a small number in Mississippi and Louisiana.

Online Choctaw Tribe Resources

Choctaw Tribe Gallery of Photos

Choctaw, Muskogean,

Hodge, Frederick Webb, Compiler. The Handbook of American Indians North of Mexico. Bureau of American Ethnology, Government Printing Office. 1906.

Search Military Records - Fold3
  1. Gatschet, Creek Migration Legends, I, 53, 1884[]
  2. Milfort, Méoire, 95, 1802[]
  3. Rep. to Sec. War, 373, 1822[]
  4. Halbert, Creek War of 1813 and 1814, 124, 1895[]
  5. Royce, Indian Land Cessions, 18th Rep. B. A. E., 1899[]
  6. Morgan, Ancient Society, 99, 162, 1877[]
  7. Wright in Ind. Aff. Rep. 1843, 348[]

17 thoughts on “Choctaw Tribe”

  1. Hey, um. I don’t want to be rude, but there are some errors here. “Choctaw” is an English word, it is not our word for ourselves. We call ourselves “Chahta” which is the name of the founding chief of our tribe. It has nothing to do with the head flattening… It especially has nothing to do with Spanish. I hate to be rude to others in the comments. I know people get really excited about their ancestry, but a single gene is not enough to determine Choctaw heritage. I would really avoid claiming being Choctaw if you are not a registered tribal member. Let’s learn from the whole Elizabeth Warren fiasco, please.

  2. I also have Choctaw ancestry, last names Lewis, Gates, and Starke, I am trying to locate more information. locations
    Virginia, Georgia, Alabama, Texas, North Carolina. please feel free to contact me if you have any information.

  3. Looking for information on Mary Armstrong b. 1802. Alabama full blood Choctaw #11945, married Nathaniel Stubblefield. She died 1871. Who were her parents and siblings?

  4. I am trying to find information on my 3rd great grandmother. Rebecca Frazier born 1813, we believe in Philadelphia PA. She married William Collins (not sure of the date). She died in Lycoming County in 1900. Any information on her and her parents would be greatly appreciated. Thank you in advance.

  5. My great grandmother is Choctaw. Her name was Alma Peterson. Her daughter named was Julia Sutton and she had a daughter Alma Sutton-Savoy. I am Rodney Savoy. I am a lost member of the Mississippi Choctaw Nation. Can you help me?

  6. Researching history on Stella Cordelia Drew McCleskey. My understanding is that she was from the Choctaw, Indian descent.
    Born: November 1882 in GA.
    She was married to Rufus B. McCleskey

    Any information would be appreciated.

  7. I am trying to follow the Indian heritage of Mary Delphia McCleskey Carson.
    Her birthdate was: Dec. 22, 1889 in Denison, Grayson County, Texas.
    Death date: July 22, 1976 in Stevenville, Erath County, Texas.

    Husband: Rev. Alfred Burns Carson
    Birthdate: August 22, 1881

    Any information would be appreciated.

  8. lueirether jackson

    I trying to search for great grandmother, married name was emma carson, and emma robinson, born around 1870-1880 , lived in Durant Mississippi, and her husband mr. robinson bought land from the chowtaw native americans, she died around 1969-1972.

  9. I am trying to find information on my Great Grandmother her name was Callie Johnson. She married William D. Skinner. This had to be in the 1880-1890s. She was a Choctaw from Alabama.

  10. I am seeking information regarding the Choctaw ancestry of my great-grandfather, Dennis Crane, of Lincoln and/or Lawrence County, MS, buried at the Methodist Cemetery in East Lincoln County. Any pointers appreciated.

  11. I am trying to find out about a grandmother that was a person that people came to for herb,s and med. she hunted trapped taned hides delivered baby’s . Her name was Missouri Tennessee Gann if any body know of the family please let me know

  12. I am trying to find out more about my Grandmother’s life. It’s been difficult to pin down any ‘details’. Her father was a photographer and they lived in Oklahoma on the Reservations. I have seen his glass negatives – they are fascinating. My family has a difficult time pinning down her heritage. I am red headed and freckle faced, so any Native traits have eluded me. However, I am fascinated as I grow older and recall stories she told – from unthreading fabrics to rethread new fabrics to stories of spirits in caves. She was an amazing woman – loved every creature, but sure to let them know that they had to respect her back. She shewed snakes away. I don’t know if she had any Native blood, but I do know she took a lot of the values that were infused into her as a child growing up in a Native Nation with her and I was fortunate enough for her to pass on some of the virtue to my Father and Myself.
    My Aunt told me that her Father came from a wealthy family that disowned him when he decided to become a photographer on Native Lands and eventually married my Great Grandmother – a MaJong/Maong/Mahong??? The facts of the story are unclear. I just would like some insight into my Grandma’s family – Native born or not – as from what I know and can derive from history and pictures, they did share a life with some of the Native’s (gracious, I hope that term is not demeaning – I am unsure what is politically correct as in my mind the Indigenous People of this land are true Americans). I am not sure which tribe or of any real details. Her Father’s name was Hugh’s. If you have any records of my Family will you please share them with me? I would greatly appreciate it. My Great-Grandpa’s glass negatives are still around. I hope to have time to gather them up sooner than later and hopefully they will be in good condition. Goodness, it was one of my favorite pass times as a child – listening to my Grandma tell me stories and looking at the pictures. Thank you for your time.

  13. Just found out by my sister that my grandmother was full Choctaw. Trying to find more about it. They were out of Sabine, LA.

    1. most likely she was houma indian from that part of lousiana, not chata. houma spoke our language, but they left the natchez, tupelo, chata, and chikasa people and formed their own tribe about 500 years ago. choctaw are traditionally eastern mississippi western alabama tribe. before 1828 anyway.

      after 1828 we relocated to tuskahoma oklahoma amd philadelphia mississippi and henning tennessee.

    2. Halito Sia Chata Hoke

      Get your blood Rh factor taken.

      if its A type, choctaw.
      If its B type, cherokee.

      Chatah and Cherokee did not coexist either lol (my dads cherokee and they wont accept my enrollment because my mother is choctaw. so im enrolled choctaw. lol)

      Choctaw were western Alabama, Eastern Mississippi tribe.

      Cherokee lived in the Georgia Mountains.
      Lumbee in the N/S Carolina highlands.
      And Euchee intermingled with everyone.

      there were 13 different tribes in the south east. Most fell to the Cherokee and Muscogee confederations,

      1. That is interesting, we are all type A. Came with the Cherokees from North Carolina to Tennessee, Kentucky, Georgia, Alabama , Missouri (Trail of Tears) & Oklahoma. We lived on the Choctaw reservation when the rolls were taken but they wouldn’t claim us & insisted we were Cherokee. Because we weren’t living on the Cherokee reservation at that time we aren’t on any rolls. My family moved back and forth between Choctaw & Cherokee reservations a lot. Most of my grand father’s sibling were born on 1 reservation or another and they look it, olive skinned, dark haired but all blue eyed. DNA testing shows 10-26% Mesoamerican and the balance is Eastern European, no Iberian peninsula. At this point we have no idea what our ethnic back ground even means.

  14. We have always been told that our g g grandmother was Indian, at one point Choctaw, and another Cherokee. I’m looking for any McKinley, Lewis, Peavy, and Pittman on my fathers side and Gholson, Latimer, Fuhlgum, Hill, and more. The Lewis family was in Georgia and South Carolina in the early 1800s. John Wright Lewis was born around 1812.

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