The Choctaws have two stories about their origins In their traditional homeland in central Mississippi. One is that their ancestors came from west of the Mississippi River and settled in what is now the homeland. The other is that the tribes descended from ancestors who were formed by a spirit from the damp earth of Nanih Waiyah, a large mound in northeastern Mississippi.
They originally occupied an area that now includes Georgia, Alabama, and southern Mississippi and Louisiana. The Choctaws were the first of the five great southern tribes of the United States to be moved to Oklahoma by the Treaty of Dancing Rabbit Creek in 1830. Over 20,000 Choctaws moved on this long journey, with many of the Choctaw people not surviving this removal on what has come to be called The Trail of Tears. Here the Choctaw became, along with the Creek, Cherokee, Chickasaw, and Seminole, part of a group of Native Americans known as the Five Civilized Tribes, so called because they had organized governments with written constitutions and because they had adopted other habits of the white settlers, including the establishment of public schools and newspapers.
The Choctaw fought on the side of the Confederacy during the American Civil War.
They lived in mud-and-bark cabins with thatched roofs. The Choctaw were an agricultural people, probably the most able farmers of the southeastern region, employing simple tools to raise corn, beans, sweet potatoes, pumpkins, and tobacco. The men hunted while the women raised the crops, although the men sometimes helped with clearing the fields. The Choctaw were less warlike than their traditional enemies, the Chickasaw and the Creek.
The Choctaw's major deity was the sun, a spiritual being whose earthly representative was fire. Their form of burial of the dead was to expose...