the Southwest Mississippi Territory,
Surrounding Southern States
Woman - A Choctaw Legend
Great Chief of the Choctaw Nation
Microsoft Corporation, Copyright 1993; Funk & Wagnall's Corporation.
Grolier, Inc.; Copyright 1992; The Software Toolbox, Inc.
Prepared for Early SW
MS Territory by Ellen Pack
The ancient Cherokee
inhabited the area of northern Mexico and Texas before migrating north
to the Great Lake area. They were forced back south after being defeated
by the Iroquois and Delaware tribes, where they became the largest and
most powerful Native American tribe in the areas of the western Carolinas,
northern Georgia, and eastern Tennessee. They were an Iroquoian-speaking
The Cherokee were
first encountered by white man when Spanish explorer Hernando DeSoto traveled
across the southern area of the "new world" in 1540. Later, in 1715,
the Cherokee numbers were greatly reduced by a smallpox epidemic.
The Cherokee sided
with the British during the Revolutionary War, and did not end their hostilities
against the Americans until 1794. By that time, under heavy white
influence, the Cherokee became farmers and ranchers. They also became
slave holders, and were involved in the cotton and wool industries.
Some were dissatisfied with the new agreement, and between the years of
1790 to 1815, about 3,000 members migrated west of the Mississippi
River. This group became known as the Western Band of Cherokee.
Most members, however, chose to remain behind.
In 1827, the Cherokee
established a constitutional form of government patterned after that of
the United States. Meanwhile. gold had been discovered on Cherokee
land, resulting in the state of Georgia entering into a series of fraudulent
land-acquiring treaties in an attempt to remove the Cherokee, and confiscate
their lands. By 1835, with the Treaty of New Echota, the Cherokee
were given three years to relocated west of the Mississippi River.
The Cherokee reputed the treaty, refusing to leave. Beginning in
1839, the nation was forced to march to what is today Oklahoma.
Although several hundred escaped and fled into the mountain areas of North
Carolina and Tennessee, most were drive west. This enforced march,
under the direction of Gen. Winfield Scott, resulted in the death of over
4,0000 Cherokee, and is today known as the Trail of Tears.
In Oklahoma, the
Cherokee joined membership as one of the Five Civilized Tribes. Today
they are one of the largest tribes in America. Those who escaped
the Trail of Tears were the ancestors of the present-day Eastern Band.
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The Choctaw Indians
were an agricultural and cattle-raising people who lived in central and
southern Mississippi, as well as Alabama, Georgia, and Louisiana, during
the 18th century. The Choctaw were also known as Flatheads, because
they compressed the heads of their babies into a peak using a V-shaped
The Choctaw lived in mud and bark houses
with thatched roofs, and were considered quite able farmers. Using
simple tools, they raised a variety of crops that included tobacco, corn,
beans, sweet potatoes, and pumpkins. Frequently they raised
an abundance of these crops, and were able to use the excess produce as
trade. They also fished, and hunted with blowguns and bow and arrow.
In 1729 the Mississippi Choctaw
sided with the French in driving out the Natchez Indians after the massacre
at Fort Rosalie, in Natchez. However, some of the Natchez Indians
later joined the Choctaw nation, so that today many Choctaw descendants
are also descendants of the now-extinct Natchez Indians.
The Choctaw supported the British during
the Revolutionary War, but became bitter when the war ended, complaining
that the British had sold out their interest to the newly formed United
For a number of years, the Choctaw resisted
the white encroachment into their land. Hostility finally ended in
1830 with the Treaty of Dancing Rabbit Creek, but the entire Choctaw were
forced to move across the Mississippi River into Oklahoma where they joined
the Creek, Cherokee, Chickasaw, and Siminole in Oklahoma, and eventually
became one of the Five Civilized Tribes.
The Choctaw fought on the Confederate
side during the War Between the States, and were later instrumental in
having Oklahoma admitted as a state, in 1907.
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The Creek occupied
most of what are now Alabama and Georgia, and were the second most powerful
grouping of Indians south of New York, after the Cherokee. At one
time their number reached about 30,000.
The Creek were
an agricultural tribe who's villages were situated along creeks and rivers,
which accounts for their name, given to them by early traders. They
were an orderly society, arranging their log houses in a rectangle around
a central space reserved for public ceremonies. Some villages were
designed for war ceremonies, other for peace ceremonies.
The Creek men
accomplished the hunting, and the women planted and harvested crops of
corn, squash, and beans. Tribal members, like other Native Americans
of the southeast, were heavily tattooed and ornamented.
The Creek supported
the British during the American Revolution, but signed a peace treated
with the United States in 1790. However, in 1813, still under the
influence of the British, the Creek declared war against the United States.
They attacked Fort Mims in southern Alabama, and for several months war
ensued. After a few months they were soundly defeated by General
Andrew Jackson, and forced to give up more than half of their territory.
Eventually, after being forced to cede more land to the Americans, they
agreed to relocated in Oklahoma, where they became a member of the Five
Civilized Tribes. Only a few remained behind.
The Natchez tribe was established in
the area of southeast Mississippi before the Spanish and French entered
the area. They were the largest and most unified tribe of the immediate
area, and numbered about 5,000.
For more information on the Natchez
Tribe, click HERE.
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