- The largest tribe belonging to the southern branch of the Muskhogean
family they were farming Indians, formerly of the middle and southern
sections of what is now Mississippi. Their name is said to have come
from the Spanish word chato, which means "flat," because of their
custom of flattening their heads.
The earliest historical record of these
Indians is when they were found by De Soto in 1540. They were friendly
to the French when the latter settled the Louisiana Territory, and were
always at peace with the United States Government. The Choctaw began
to migrate to the Indian Territory in 1835 when they ceded most of their
lands to the government.
They had a strange custom in burying their
dead. They first cleaned the bones before putting then in boxes
and baskets in their bone houses. This work was done by "old gentlemen
with very long nails," They allowed their fingernails to grow long
just for this purpose. Another unusual custom among the Choctaw was
that of the men wearing their hair long, and for this reason some of their
neighbors gave them the name of "Long Hairs."
A jargon of the Choctaw language was called
the Mobile trade language, also known as the Chickasaw trade language.
The Chickasaw and Choctaw languages were similar. There were reports
that during World War I the Choctaw language was used as a code language
by intelligence officers. A Choctaw would be placed at each end of
a field telephone and would transmit messages in his own tongue.
A similar report came out of World War II.
The Choctaw joined with the Cherokee and
others as a member of the Five Civilized Tribes. The tribe has furnished
the name for counties in Alabama, mississippi, and Oklahoma, and settlements
in the same states, as well as in Arkansas.
within this Site
Civilized Tribes ][ Mobile ]
Builders ][ Trading Languages ]