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Chickasaw - Chikashsha I̠yaakni

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Please add people with documented Chickasaw background only to this project.

The Chickasaw are believed to have migrated into Mississippi from the west, as their oral history attests. They and the Choctaw were once one people and migrated from west of the Mississippi River into present-day Mississippi in prehistoric times; the Chickasaw and Choctaw split along the way.

The Chickasaw remained in their homelands of western Tennessee and northern Mississippi until the 1830s. After decades of increasing pressure to cede their land from the Federal and state governments, the Chickasaw finally agreed to cede their remaining Mississippi Homeland in the Treaty of Pontotoc Creek and relocate west to Indian Territory.

The Chickasaw Nation (Chickasaw: Chikashsha I̠yaakni) is a federally recognized Native American tribe with headquarters in Ada, Oklahoma, in the United States. They are an Indigenous people of the Southeastern Woodlands, originally from northern Mississippi, northwestern Alabama, southwestern Kentucky, and western Tennessee. Today, the Chickasaw Nation is the 13th largest tribe in the United States.

Currently, the nation's jurisdictional territory and reservation includes about 7,648 square miles of south-central Oklahoma, including Bryan, Carter, Coal, Garvin, Grady, Jefferson, Johnston, Love, McClain, Marshall, Murray, Pontotoc, and Stephens counties.

These counties are separated into four districts, the Pontotoc, Pickens, Tishomingo, and Panola, with relatively equal populations.Their population today is estimated to be 38,000, with the majority residing in the state of Oklahoma.


From < The National Park Service >

Chickasaw Origins

The prophets (hopayi') directed their people to move from the west, so the brothers Chiksa' and Chahta led the tribes to the southeast. When the brothers parted ways, Chiksa' became the leader of the Chickasaw people.

Skilled traders and warriors, they descended from ancient mound building societies. During the Woodland and Mississippian periods, those people constructed earthen work sacred places for their communities. Many mounds can still be seen today along the Natchez Trace Parkway.


The Chickasaw people settled in the thick forests of the areas of what we now call northern Mississippi, western Tennessee, northwestern Alabama, and southwestern Kentucky. They built homes for their families using poles sunk into the ground which supported mud and reed daub walls with thatched roofs. The Chickasaw people nurtured their lands, and ornithologist Alexander Wilson described the land they cared for as park-like settings.

Before the United States expanded beyond the Mississippi River, the land that would become Mississippi, Alabama, and Tennessee was known as < the Southwest >. This map shows the Old Natchez Trace passing through Choctaw and Chickasaw lands.

Source: < NPS Image >

In the 17th and 18th centuries, European Americans considered the Chickasaw one of the historic Five Civilized Tribes, along with the Cherokee, Choctaw, Muscogee, and Seminole nations, due to their agrarian culture and later adoption of centralized governments with written constitutions, intermarriages with white settlers, literacy, Christianity, market participation, and slave holding.

The Five Civilized Tribes

Gallery of the Five Civilized Tribes: Sequoyah (Cherokee), Pushmataha (Choctaw), Selecta (Muscogee/Creek), a "Characteristic Chickasaw Head", and Osceola (Seminole). The portraits were drawn or painted between 1775 and 1850.

Source: “A collection of Public Domain images of the Five Civilized Tribes” (2008) < Wikimedia Commons >

James Adair, who in 1744 resided among the Chickasaw, named their principal towns as being Shatara, Chookheereso, Hykehah, Tuskawillao, and Phalacheho. The Chickasaw sold a section of their lands with the Treaty of Tuscaloosa, resulting in the loss of what became known as the Jackson Purchase, in 1818. This area included western Kentucky and western Tennessee, both areas not heavily populated by members of the tribe. They remained in their primary homeland of northern Mississippi and northwest Alabama until the 1830s.

After decades of increasing pressure by federal and state governments to cede their land, as European Americans were eager to move into their territory and had already begun to do so as squatters or under fraudulent land sales, the Chickasaw finally agreed to cede their remaining Mississippi homeland to the U.S. under the Treaty of Pontotoc Creek and relocate west of the Mississippi River to < Indian Territory >.

Removal to Indian Territory

The Chickasaw removal is one of the most traumatic episodes in the history of the nation. As a result of the Indian Removal Act of 1830, the Chickasaw Nation was forced to move to Indian territory, suffering a significant decline in population. However, due to the negotiating skills of the Chickasaw leaders, they were led to favorable sales of their land in Mississippi. Of the Five Civilized Tribes, the Chickasaw were one of the last ones to move. In 1837, the Chickasaw and Choctaw signed the Treaty of Doaksville,[26] by which the Chickasaw purchased the western lands of the Choctaw Nation in Indian Territory. This western area was called the Chickasaw District, and consisted of what are now Panola, Wichita, Caddo, and Perry counties.

Chickasaw Nation map, 1891

Source: < Wikipedia- public domain >


In 1907, when Oklahoma entered the Union as the 46th state, the role of tribal governments in Indian Territories ceased, and as a result, the Chickasaw people were then granted United States citizenship. For decades until 1971, the United States appointed representatives for the Chickasaw Nation. Douglas H. Johnston was the first man to serve in this capacity. Governor Johnston served the Chickasaw Nation from 1906 until his death in 1939 at age 83.

In 1971, the people held their first tribal election since 1904. They elected Overton James by a landslide as governor of the Chickasaw Nation, further tightening communal support and identity.