Somewhere around 1300 the tribe called Chickasaw crossed the Mississippi River from an earlier location to the Red River Valley.
The first place where the Chickasaw permanently settled was the Chickasaw Old Fields on the Tennessee River. Although they lived in northwest Alabama in later years, by 1700 Chickasaw Old Fields had moved to the headwaters of the Tombigbee River, their homeland during the historic period.
The Chickasaw also controlled western Tennessee and Kentucky west of the divide between Cumberland and Tennessee Rivers including the Chickasaw Bluffs which overlook the Mississippi River at Memphis.
One group moved east during 1723 at the invitation of South Carolina and settled on the Savannah River. This group stayed until 1783 when their lands were confiscated for their support of the British during the American Revolution.
After the end of the Indian Removal Act in 1830, the Chickasaw gave away their land east of the Mississippi in 1832 and agreed to remove to the Indian Territory.
Because they couldn’t find suitable land, the Chickasaw couldn’t move until 1837, after which they settled in southeast Oklahoma.
Their union with another tribe called the Choctaw was not happy, and in 1845 the Chickasaw separated and relocated to their own territory in south-central Oklahoma. The Chickasaw Nation stayed until it was dissolved in 1906 to allow for Oklahoma statehood. Although many Chickasaw left or merged with the general population after allotment took their lands, 12000 still live in the vicinity of their tribal headquarters at Ada.
Because their languages are so alike, the Chickasaw and the Choctaw appear to have been part of the same tribe when they lived west of the Mississippi River. After that, they went separate ways and then they became enemies. When it comes to the Chickasaw and the Choctaw, the Choctaw were much larger than the Chickasaw (about four-five times or so), but the Chickasaw were still sizeable. There were about 15000 of them before their contact with Europeans in 1540.
Later, the De Soto expedition left epidemics that killed many of the Indians which led to depopulation of the native populations and to the tribes being reduced, but because of their small, scattered villages, the Chickasaw suffered less than their neighbors.
During the years which followed, the Chickasaw were constantly at war with the French and neighboring tribes and suffered accordingly.
However, their population did not fall as fast as expected because their remote location protected them from the epidemics which were decimating tribes in the east.
The Chickasaw also kept their numbers high by absorbing remnants from other tribes: Natchez, Chakchiuma, Tapousa, Ibitoupa and Nappissa. At the same time, many of the Scottish traders from Charleston married Chickasaw women which produced many mixed-blooded Chickasaw children. These Chickasaws were by the white traders called “breeds.”
Current number of Chickasaws is about 35000, and they make up for about 1,1 percent of the Native Americans, which makes them the eight largest Indian nation in the united states.
Until 1700, the Chickasaw had seven towns, and each town had its own fort an ceremonial rotunda.
Each family had two different houses depending on the season. Their summer homes were rectangular with a gable roof, porch, and balcony. Their winter homes, on the other hand, were circular using a method called “the wattle and daub,” which is mud spread over a basket-like framework. Because the Chickasaw winter homes were well insulated and partially sunken into the ground, they were really warm. In fact, they were so warm that British slave traders collecting their “merchandise” complained that they were a preview of their probable place in the hereafter. By 1800 most Chickasaw had given up their traditional homes in favor of log cabins similar to those of white frontiersmen.
There was a strict division of labor in the Chickasaw tribe. The women were in charge of the supervision of slaves and tending the fields of corn, beans, and squash, while men hunted deer, bear, and buffalo. The men were hunters first and farmers second. Husbands had little to do with the raising of their children, with the mother’s brother being responsible for the training and discipline of boys.
When it comes to clothing, they usually used buckskin. The men wore a breechcloth with thigh-high deerskin boots to protect their legs from the underbrush. The women wore a simple short dress, and both sexes had robes made out of buffaloskin in cold weather.
The ultimate badge of honor for Chickasaw warriors was a mantle of swan feathers.
Both men and women had long hair, but the warriors would arrange their hair in a scalplock when preparing for war.
Warpaint varied according to clan.
The Chickasaw also removed all their body hair and made extensive use of tattooing, but what was really distinctive was that they flattened the foreheads of infants to “enhance” their appearance as adults.
Politically, the Chickasaw towns and clans were independent, but would unite in times of war. Each town had its own “minko”, who was the chief. There was also a “high minko” (king), which was a hereditary position chosen from the Chickasaw’s family.
Socially, the Chickasaw had 5 to 7 totemic, matrilineal, exogamic clans meaning that clan membership was determined by the mother and you had to marry outside your clan.
Monogamy was more typical, but some polygamy was permitted, usually where a man would marry more than one sister.
Adultery, especially for women, were serious offence among the Chickasaw. For example, a young woman was a disgrace to her family if she had a child out of wedlock, and a widow was not to marry another man for four years after her husband’s death. This did not go for the men though.
The Chickasaw believed in a supreme Creator Spirit, good and evil spirits, and a life after death.
Other special things the Chickasaw did was for example drinking the “black drink. ” This was a purgative to induce vomiting and purify the body. They also played the “ball game.” A brutal contact sport played each summer with the all-day games involving entire towns and hundreds of players.
At first, the Chickasaw had dugout canoes and foot for transport, but in the mid-1700s they got their first horses trading with the Shawnee at Bledsoe’s Lick.
Horses were usually used to transport deerskin east to the British at Charleston, but the Chickasaw soon developed a superior riding breed, the Chickasaw Horse, known for its long stride and endurance. Because there was a lot of woods in the region, their war parties continued to travel on foot, and because the Chickasaw warriors were such good swimmers, the rivers presented no barrier. The Chickasaw warriors were also extremely swift runners.
Warrior training began immediately after birth when male babies were placed on panther skins.
The Chickasaw didn’t use large groups of warriors except to defend their towns. Their method was a small war party which could travel quietly and surprise the enemy.
The “unexpected” was so typical of the Chickasaw warfare that one would think that their enemies would have anticipated it, and since the Chickasaw believed that a dead warrior’s ghost would haunt his relatives until avenged, the only question about Chickasaw retaliation was when and where.
Aside from the British, the Chickasaw had few allies and an enormous amount of enemies.
Just about everyone who lived near them and quite a few who did not, were the Chickasaw’s enemies. The Chickasaw whipped them all and in the process helped drive the French from North America, frustrate the ambitions of Spain, and defeat the Americans in their only encounter during the Revolutionary War.
In the 1830s President Andrew Jackson targeted the tribe for removal.
In 1832, Chickasaw Chief, Levi Colbert, signed the “Treaty of Pontotoc.” The Chickasaws agreed to cede all their lands in Mississippi and Alabama to the U.S. The lands would be marked as "public" and sold to white settlers. The money taken from the sale of the land would be placed in a special fund for the tribe. Chickasaw representatives were sent into Indian Territory in 1832 to chose the land they wanted to live on. On their way, the Chickasaw contingent passed through Little Rock and met with members of the Choctaw tribe who were willing to sell them parts of their land, which they did not purchase.
From 1833 to 1836, white settlers overrun Chickasaw lands in Mississippi. They finally purchased land from the Choctaw near Fort Towson and gave the Chickasaw the privileges of citizenship within the tribe. Pleased with the arrangement, the Chickasaws promised to move by 1836. Of the thousands expected to show up, only 300 moved in the first days of Chickasaw removal.
After a while, the Chickasaw reached the north side of the Arkansas River at Little Rock. At Little Rock, the Chickasaw tribe started to discuss which way to head next. Chief Sealy wanted to go by land to the Red River Valley, while the government-appointed conductor wanted to travel by boat. It ended with half heading down the Southwest Trail under leadership of Sealy, and the 150 others went with the conductor. In 1836, the steamboat with the conductor and his 150 men landed safely at Fort Coffee, but Sealy and his group were nowhere to be found. Later, Sealy and his group were found by the conductor. They were starving and sick due to lack of supplies and many of them were dead. Some of them managed to survive and travel to where the rest of the Chickasaw had settled. The last group arrived in the Indian territory in the summer of 1939.
Approximately 4,000 Chickasaws and 1,000 of their slaves were removed during the late 1830s and early 1840s. They were the last of the five southeastern tribes to be removed and they settled within the boundaries of the Choctaw Nation until 1855. Friction grew between the two groups and the Chickasaws established an independent government and boundaries lines for their land immediately to the west of the Choctaws in south central Oklahoma. Today, the Chickasaws have executive, legislative, and judicial branches of government that provide various social, economic, educational, and cultural services to over 35,000 tribal members.
We all know Indian tribes have different legends they believe in. They raise their children telling them educational stories which has been told in their tribe for ages. The stories might be to teach the children how to do something, or what not to do. The stories might also be told to teach the children why things are as they are in their tribe. Though many tribes believe in the same stories sometimes, they also have their own stories that only they believe in. The Chickasaw to have stories they believe in, and I will give you one of them:
Ghost of the white deer.
A brave, young warrior for the Chickasaw Nation fell in love with the daughter of a chief. The chief did not like the young man, who was called Blue Jay. So the chief invented a price for the bride that he was sure that Blue Jay could not pay.
"Bring me the hide of the White Deer, : said the chief.
The Chickasaws believed that animals that were all white were magical.
"The price for my daughter is one white deer."
Then the chief laughed. The chief knew that an all white deer, an albino, was very rare and would be very hard to find. White deerskin was the best material to use in a wedding dress, and the best white deer skin came from the albino deer.
Blue Jay went to his beloved, whose name was Bright Moon.
"I will return with your bride price in one moon, and we will be married. This I promise you."
Taking his best bow and his sharpest arrows Blue Jay began to hunt.
Three weeks went by, and Blue Jay was often hungry, lonely, and scratched by briars. Then, one night during a full moon, Blue Jay saw a white deer that seemed to drift through the moonlight. When the deer was very close to where Blue Jay hid, he shot his sharpest arrow. The arrow sank deep into the deers heart. But instead of sinking to his knees to die, the deer began to run. And instead of running away, the deer began to run toward Blue Jay, his red eyes glowing, his horns sharp and menacing.
A month passed and Blue Jay did not return as he had promised Bright Moon.
As the months dragged by, the tribe decided that he would never return.
But Bright Moon never took any other young man as a husband, for she had a secret. When the moon was shinning as brightly as her name, Bright Moon would often see the white deer in the smoke of the campfire, running, with an arrow in his heart. She lived hoping the deer would finally fall, and Blue Jay would return.
To this day the white deer is sacred to the Chickasaw People, and the white deerskin is still the favorite material for the wedding dress.
This story shows how precious the white deerskin is to the Chickasaw and why. This story has been in the Chickasaw tribe for many years, all the way back to when it happened.
Black Elk is one of many famous chiefs. He was Oglala Lakota’s holy man. He was born in December 1863 at Little Powder River, Wyoming and died in 1950. He was born into the tribe Oglala Sioux. He had five sisters and one brother, and he also had many children. At the age of nine, Black Elk received a great vision. This vision portrayed the Powers of the World, each giving Black Elk a gift and a special power. The Grandfathers, represented the powers of north, south, east, and west. With the gifts that he received, Black Elk was given the center of the nations hoop.
As an adult Black Elk became a medicine man. He also became a Catholic thirty years before his death.
Black Elk's life contained the U.S.-Sioux wars, the Battle of the Little Big Horn, and the 1890 massacre at Wounded Knee Creek. He left the reservation and toured with Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show in Europe, returning in 1889. He converted to Catholicism in 1904 and became a catechist on reservations for several decades.