the Mississippi Choctaw were largely ignored by the government and fell
into obscurity, though they continued to practice their culture as they
had for generations. In the meantime, the Choctaw in
struggled to maintain their nation, as land cessions were required by the Five Civilized Tribes, who had supported the
They were also required to free their slaves and make them
citizens. Called Choctaw Freedmen, considerable debates occurred over the
next several years, but they were finally granted
citizenship in 1885.
In 1889, the government used its railroad access to the
Territory to stimulate development there and opened two million acres for
settlement, resulting in the Land Run of 1889. The
Choctaw Nation was
overwhelmed with new settlers and could not regulate their activities,
suffering from violent crimes, murders, thefts and assaults from new
settlers and other tribal members.
Mississippi Choctaw, 1908.
The struggle over land with the U.S. Government continued
and soon the Dawes Commission was established to end the tribal lands held
in common, and allot acreage to tribal members individually and dissolve
the governments of the Five Civilized Tribes. Though the nations fought
hard against this, the governments were dissolved in 1906 and the
following year, Oklahoma
was admitted as the 46th state.
In World War I, the Choctaw served in the U.S.
military as the first
American code talkers, using the
Choctaw language as a natural code. Tribal members also served in World
War II, after which the nation began efforts to reestablish itself. For
the next two decades they worked hard to attract and develop new
businesses and fight legislation to eliminate
American rights of sovereignty. The
Choctaw Nation of
was scheduled for termination when Congress repealed the law in 1970,
citing the policy’s documented failure in helping
The repeal set the
Choctaw in a new direction and in 1971, the nation held its first popular
election of a chief since Oklahoma
achieved statehood in 1907. They also established a tribal newspaper,
began to enroll more members, and launched a movement to preserve the
Choctaw language. Before long, a new Constitution was ratified which provided
for an executive, legislative and judicial branch of the government.
The population of the tribe when it first came into relations with the
French, about the year 1700, was estimated from 15,000 to 20,000. Their
number in 1894 was 18,981 citizens of the Choctaw
Nation, 1,639 Mississippi Choctaw, and 5,994 Freedmen. Today, they number nearly 200,000 strong. They
operate business ventures, both in Mississippi and
in Gaming, Electronics, and Hospitality industries, while continuing to
practice their language and cultural traditions.
The Choctaw Nation of
and the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians
are the two primary Choctaw associations today, although smaller
groups are also located in Alabama, Louisiana, and