Origins
Linguistically as well as culturally, the Chickasaws are siblings to the Choctaws -
both tribes, though separate, share a common origination story. They are also kin to
the Creeks; all three tribes speak the Muskogean language. In their history, the
Chickasaws had a very developed social hierarchy, with a nobility class based on
ancestry, and well-developed, matrilineal clan system.

Their homelands in northern Mississippi and Alabama, western Tennessee and into
Kentucky paralleled the Mississippi as well as the Natchez Trace, which solidified
the Chickasaws as important traders and, upon European contact, as ferriers into
Louisiana Territory. They defended their territory fiercely from any incursions,
including
Hernando de Soto and his conquistadors in the mid-16th century - it was
the Chickasaws tribe who defeated him after his troops tried to destroy one of their
villages.

European influences
The Chickasaws traded with the French, Iroquois, Spanish, and English in guns and
furs, but found the most advantageous trade with the English. The tribe acclimated
quite well to the English ways, too. They adopted English economic, religious, and
social customs; many members of the tribe converted to Christianity, attended
mission academies, and became individual land owners who grew cash crops that
relied on African slave labor. Due to their trading relationships, the Chickasaws
sided with the English during the American revolutionary war. Afterwards,
George
Washington himself sought peace with the Chickasaws,
but trouble brewed between
the Anglo Americans and the Indians in their native homelands. To the Anglos, all
natives were hostile. As the Red Stick Creeks took up the warpath against the Anglo
intruders in 1811, Anglos directed their hostility towards the Choctaws and
Chickasaws as well. None other than Andrew Jackson, Indian Agent, future
president, and supporter of federalized Indian removal, sided with the Anglos and
convinced the Chickasaws and Choctaws to
reduce their territory. By the 1830s, the
Chickasaws had ceded a large amount of territory to the states of Mississippi and
Alabama.

Removing to Indian Territory
However, the Chickasaws refused to concede completely. The tribe wanted
top-dollar for their land, and several Chickasaw planters sold their concerns at
private sales rather than to the U.S. government. The Chickasaws who were able to
wait arrived in Indian Territory "in large, comfortable carriages" surrounded by the
people they had enslaved. The yeoman farming Chickasaws did not fare as well.
Hundreds died as they made their trek into Indian Territory after the federal Indian
Removal Act of 1830. During the Chickasaw and Choctaw Trail of
When the Chickasaws arrived in Indian Territory, they did not immediately set up
their own nation. Their removal treaty of 1834 stipulated that they would find their
own suitable lands. The Treaty of 1837 made them, for removal purposes, members
of the Choctaw nation.  Their first major town in Indian Territory was
Boggy Depot,
established between Fort Arbuckle (the first one, then the latter one) and
Fort
Washita. Very soon, this town became a thriving trading and transportation center.
In 1855, the Chickasaws formally separated from the Choctaw Nation and established
the Chickasaw Nation in south-central Indian Territory by buying the western half of
the Choctaw Nation. They moved the seat of their government to Tishomingo after a
survey left Boggy Depot inside the Choctaw Nation.
Like the Choctaws, the Chickasaws established their own academies. In Chickasaw
tradition, women headed the household. Education of women was tantamount to
success, so the Chickasaw's premier academy, Bloomfield, educated girls. A few of
the Chickasaw families who had already been materially successful in Mississippi
replicated their financial success in Indian Territory, too. For example, Benjamin
Colbert, an Anglo-Chickasaw, had operated ferries along the Mississippi River.
When he came to Indian Territory, he set up ferry crossing along the Red River. His
most famous ferry crossing spanned the between today's Colbert (Bryan County,
Oklahoma) and
Denison (Grayson County, Texas).

The Chickasaw Nation did not have a large population; therefore, their government
encouraged Texas settlers to lease land for farming or grazing. Not all Texans
leased, however; many attempted to squat on the land illegally. Clashes between
Chickasaws and Texan intruders led to violence, especially in the border region
around the Red River. The area that would become Love County was especially
prone to these outbursts.
Brown Springs near Thackerville developed a sordid
reputation for the discord between Chickasaws and Texans.

Civil War and after
The Chickasaws nearly unanimously sided with the Confederacy during the Civil
War
. This misplaced loyalty led to the dissolution of their nation after 1866. Like the
Choctaws, the federal government obligated the Chickasaws in
new treaties to
distribute land to the freedmen in the nation and to educate them. The Chickasaws
refused, however, to adopt the freed people into their tribe.

Like the Choctaws, the Chickasaws were subjected to the stipulations of the Dawes
Act of 1887 by 1893. This act forced them to use "blood quantum" to determine who
was, and wasn't, a Chickasaw, which assisted the U.S. government in uncovering
who was entitled to land allotments according to the registrants through the Bureau
of Indian Affairs (what's called the Dawes Rolls). Many Chickasaws prospered from
the land allotments due to their ranches, which sustained the famous
Chisholm Trail
(known then as the Abilene Cattle Trail) that cut through their territory.

Modern nation building
Railroads came to the Chickasaw country relatively late - only in the 1880s. But with
the rail came a tourism boom. The Chickasaw Nation claims the beautiful Arbuckle
Mountains and the surrounding waters, including a long portion of the Blue River. A
number of spa towns, like
Sulphur and Bromide, erupted from the ground (pun
intended) and trains brought visitors from throughout the states to visit these
beautiful places. During this post-Civil War period, the western portion of the
Chickasaw Territory was taken from the Chickasaws by the federal government as
reservations for the Plains Indian tribes, like the
Kiowas and Comanches, as well as
roaming tribes who had ceded their homelands to the Anglos but had not received
land in exchange, like the
Caddos and Wichitas.

In 1924, the Chickasaws became U.S. citizens, but this didn't help them much. The
Dust Bowl and the Great Depression hit the Chickasaws especially hard, as their new
homelands were much more arid and much more easily to over-work than their lands
back east. As it had done for other tribes, the 1934 Indian Reorganization Act helped
the Chickasaws in regaining much of their autonomy, which allowed them to
weather through the hard times. Still, a large number of Chickasaws and Choctaws
were displaced in this period.

Over the last few decades, the Chickasaw Nation has grown significantly in
population as well as in wealth. Some of this success has to do with casinos, which
provides funds for education and health care to all tribal members. But a large share
of the success stems from its own citizens and the tribe's leadership, who have
embraced their adopted homeland with love and devotion.
Caddos         Wichitas         Comanches         Kiowas
Shawnees        Osages        Tonkawas
Choctaws        Chickasaws        End of the Trail
The Chickasaw Nation
Like the Choctaws, the
Chickasaws tattooed
their bodies and faces
in their traditional
dress, as this 1777
woodcut shows. Men's
hair style was similar
to the Caddoan shorn
cut, but the hair was
adorned with ribbons
of decorated deer skins
(LOC).
William Orr depicted
the Chickasaws
burning the
consquistador camp
and attacking
Hernando de Soto in
an 1858 book (LOC).
The lands that the
Chickasaws sold to private
individuals and to the U.S.
government in Mississippi
garnered much more
money than any of the
other "Five Civilized
Tribes" who were forced to
remove to Indian Territory
in the 1830s. Not all
Chickasaws benefitted
from these sales, however;
only those who had
primarily European
ancestry and owned
plantations and enslaved
people could wait for the
market price (LOC).
The Chickasaw Nation
cleaved from the
Choctaw Nation in
1855 after buying the
western half of the
Choctaw lands. By
1866, when this map
was printed, the
Chickasaws were well
established in their
new home. Click on
the map for a larger
view (LOC).