The Choctaw Nation
|Anthem: (none) |
("Nahata Fichik Tohwikeli" used for some occasions)
|Established||September 27, 1830 (Treaty)|
|Incorporated into Oklahoma||November 16, 1907|
|• Body||Choctaw Nation Tribal Council|
|• Chief||Gary Batton|
|• Assistant Chief||Jack Austin, Jr.|
|• Total||28,140 km2 (10,864 sq mi)|
|223,279 total enrollment,|
84,670 enrolled in Oklahoma
|Regions with significant populations|
|United States (Oklahoma)|
|Related ethnic groups|
|other Choctaw tribes, Chickasaw|
The Choctaw Nation (Choctaw : Chahta Yakni) (officially referred to as the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma) is a Native American territory and federally recognized Indian Tribe with a tribal jurisdictional area and reservation comprising 10.5 counties in Southeastern Oklahoma. The Choctaw Nation maintains a special relationship with both the United States and Oklahoma governments.
The Choctaw language, traditionally spoken by the Native American Choctaw people of the southeastern United States, is a member of the Muskogean family. Chickasaw, Choctaw and Houma form the Western branch of the Muskogean language family. Although Chickasaw is sometimes listed as a dialect of Choctaw, more extensive documentation of Chickasaw has shown that Choctaw and Chickasaw are best treated as separate but closely related languages.
Native Americans, also known as American Indians, Indigenous Americans and other terms, are the indigenous peoples of the United States, except Hawaii. There are over 500 federally recognized tribes within the US, about half of which are associated with Indian reservations. The term "American Indian" excludes Native Hawaiians and some Alaska Natives, while Native Americans are American Indians, plus Alaska Natives of all ethnicities. Native Hawaiians are not counted as Native Americans by the US Census, instead being included in the Census grouping of "Native Hawaiian and other Pacific Islander".
The government of the U.S. State of Oklahoma, established by the Oklahoma Constitution, is a republican democracy modeled after the federal government of the United States. The state government has three branches: the executive, legislative, and judicial. Through a system of separation of powers or "checks and balances," each of these branches has some authority to act on its own, some authority to regulate the other two branches, and has some of its own authority, in turn, regulated by the other branches.
As of 2011, the tribe has 223,279 enrolled members, of which 84,670 live within the state of Oklahoma 10,864 square miles (28,140 km2). The tribe has jurisdiction over its own members.and 41,616 live within the Choctaw Nation's jurisdiction. A total of 233,126 people live within these boundaries. The tribal jurisdictional area is
Oklahoma is a state in the South Central region of the United States, bordered by Kansas on the north, Missouri on the northeast, Arkansas on the east, Texas on the south, New Mexico on the west, and Colorado on the northwest. It is the 20th-most extensive and the 28th-most populous of the fifty United States. The state's name is derived from the Choctaw words okla and humma, meaning "red people". It is also known informally by its nickname, "The Sooner State", in reference to the non-Native settlers who staked their claims on land before the official opening date of lands in the western Oklahoma Territory or before the Indian Appropriations Act of 1889, which dramatically increased European-American settlement in the eastern Indian Territory. Oklahoma Territory and Indian Territory were merged into the State of Oklahoma when it became the 46th state to enter the union on November 16, 1907. Its residents are known as Oklahomans, and its capital and largest city is Oklahoma City.
The chief of the Choctaw Nation is Gary Batton, who took office on April 29, 2014, after the resignation of Gregory E. Pyle.The Choctaw Nation Headquarters, which houses the office of the Chief, is located in Durant. The tribal legislature meets at the Council House, across the street from the historic Choctaw Capitol Building, in Tuskahoma. The Capitol Building is now the Choctaw Nation Museum..
Gary Dale Batton is the current and 47th Chief of the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma. Batton was appointed Chief on April 28, 2014 upon Chief Gregory E. Pyle's retirement, and was elected Chief on July 11, 2015 with 86.5% of the vote.
Gregory Eli Pyle was a long-term political leader of the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma. He was elected as Principal Chief in 1997 and re-elected since by wide margins. He resigned effective April 28, 2014. Prior to serving as Principal Chief, he had served as Assistant Chief for 13 years. He began to work for the Choctaw Nation in 1975 as personnel officer.
Durant is a city in Bryan County, Oklahoma, United States and serves as the headquarters of the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma. The population was 15,856 at the 2010 census. Durant is the principal city of the Durant Micropolitan Statistical Area, which had a population of 42,416 in 2010. Durant ranks as the second largest city within the Choctaw Nation, following McAlester, and ahead of Poteau. Durant is also part of the Dallas-Fort Worth Combined Statistical Area, anchoring the northern edge.
The Choctaw Nation is one of three federally recognized Choctaw tribes; the others are the Jena Band of Choctaw Indians and Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians. The latter two bands are descendants of Choctaw who resisted the forced relocation to Indian Territory. The Mississippi Choctaw preserved much of their culture in small communities and reorganized as a tribal government under new laws after the Indian Reorganization Act of 1934.
The Jena Band of Choctaw Indians are one of three federally recognized Choctaw groups in the United States. They are located in La Salle, Catahoula, and Grant parishes in the U.S. state of Louisiana.
The Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians is one of four federally recognized tribes of Choctaw Native Americans. On April 20, 1945, this band organized under the Indian Reorganization Act of 1934. Also in 1945 the Choctaw Indian Reservation was created from lands in Neshoba, Leake, Newton, Scott, Jones, Attala, Kemper, and Winston counties in Mississippi. The Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians is the only federally recognized Native American tribe in the state.
Indian removal was a forced migration in the 19th century whereby Native Americans were forced by the United States government to leave their ancestral homelands in the eastern United States to lands west of the Mississippi River, specifically to a designated Indian Territory. The Indian Removal Act was signed by Andrew Jackson, who took a hard line on Indian removal, but it was put into effect primarily under the Martin van Buren administration.
Those Choctaw who removed to the Indian Territory, a process that went on into the early 20th century, are federally recognized as the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma.The removals became known as the "Trail of Tears."
The Choctaw Trail of Tears was the relocation of the Choctaw Nation from their country referred to now as the Deep South to lands west of the Mississippi River in Indian Territory in the 1830s. A Choctaw miko (chief) was quoted by the Arkansas Gazette that the removal was a "trail of tears and death." After removal the Choctaws became three distinct groups, the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma, Jena Band of Choctaw Indians, and the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians.
The Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma's tribal jurisdictional area covers 10,864 square miles (28,140 km2), encompassing eight whole counties and parts of five counties in Southeastern Oklahoma:
The Tribal Headquarters are located in Durant. Opened in June 2018, the new headquarters is a 5-story, 500,000 square foot building located on an 80-acre campus in south Durant joining other tribal buildings such as the Regional Health Clinic, Wellness Center, Community Center, Child Development Center, and Food Distribution. Previously, headquarters was located in the former Oklahoma Presbyterian College, with more offices scattered around Durant. The current chief is Gary Batton and the assistant chief is Jack Austin, Jr. The Tribal Council meet monthly at Tvshka Homma.
The tribe is governed by the Choctaw Nation Constitution, which was ratified by the people on June 9, 1984. The constitution provides for an executive, a legislative and a judicial branch of government. The chief of the Choctaw Tribe, elected every four years, is not a voting member of the Tribal Council. They are also elected for four-year terms. The legislative authority of the tribe is vested in the Tribal Council, which consists of twelve members.
The General Fund Operating Budget, the Health Systems Operating Budget, and the Capital Projects Budget for the fiscal year beginning October 1, 2017 and ending September 30, 2018 was $516,318,568.
The supreme executive power of the Choctaw Nation is assigned to a chief magistrate, styled as the "Chief of the Choctaw Nation". The Assistant Chief is appointed by the Chief with the advice and consent of the Tribal Council, and can be removed at the discretion of the Chief.The current Chief of the Choctaw Nation is Gary Batton, and the current Assistant Chief is Jack Austin, Jr.
The Chief's birthday (December 15) is a tribal holiday.
Before Oklahoma was admitted as a state to the union in 1907, the Choctaw Nation was divided into three districts: Apukshunnubbee, Moshulatubbee, and Pushmataha. Each district had its own chief from 1834 to 1857; afterward, the three districts were put under the jurisdiction of one chief. The three districts were re-established in 1860, again each with their own chief, with a fourth chief to be Principal Chief of the tribe.These districts were abolished at the time of statehood, as tribal government was dissolved. The tribe later reorganized to re-establish its government.
|District [Chief bobs]||Term||District Chief||Term||District Chief||Term|
|John McKinney||1838-1842||James Fletcher||1838-1842||Pierre Juzan||1838-1841|
|Nathaniel Folsom||1842-1846||Thomas LeFlore||1842-1850||Isaac Folsom||1841-1846|
|Peter Folsom||1846-1850||Salas Fisher||1846-1850|
|Cornelius McCurtain||1850-1854||George W. Harkins||1850-1857||George Folsom||1850-1854|
|David McCoy||1854-1857||Nicholas Cochnauer||1854-1857|
|Districts abolished in 1857|
|Isaac Levi Garvin||1878-1880|
|Jackson F. McCurtain||1880-1884|
|Wilson N. Jones||1890-1894|
|Gilbert Wesley Dukes||1900-1902|
(Appointed by Roosevelt in 1906)
|Victor Locke, Jr.||1910-1918|
(Appointed by Taft)
|William F. Semple||1918-1922|
(Appointed by Wilson)
|William H. Harrison||1922-1929|
(Appointed by Harding)
(Appointed by Hoover)
|William A. Durant||1937-1948|
(Appointed by Roosevelt)
|Harry J. W. Belvin|
|C. David Gardner||1975-1978|
|Hollis E. Roberts||1978-1997|
|Gregory E. Pyle||1997-2014|
The legislative authority is vested in the Tribal Council. Members of the Tribal Council are elected by the Choctaw people, one for each of the twelve districts in the Choctaw Nation.
|Current Tribal Council|
|District||Portrait||Councilman||First elected||Term ends|
|District 1||Thomas Williston||November 29, 2010||September 2, 2019|
|District 2||Johnathan Ward||September 7, 2015||September 2, 2019|
|District 3||Kenneth Bryant||September 6, 1999||September 2, 2019|
|District 4||Delton Cox||September 3, 2001||September 5, 2021|
|District 5||Ronald Perry||September 5, 2011||September 2, 2019|
|District 6||Jennifer Woods||September 4, 2017||September 5, 2021|
|District 7||Jack Austin||September 3, 2001||September 5, 2021|
|District 8||Perry Thompson||September 1, 1987||September 2, 2019|
|District 9||James Dry||September 4, 2017||September 5, 2021|
|District 10||Anthony Dillard||September 5, 2005||September 5, 2021|
|District 11||Bob Pate||September 1, 1997||September 2, 2019|
|District 12||James Frazier||September 3, 1990||September 5, 2021|
In order to be elected as council members, candidates must have resided in their respective districts for at least one year immediately preceding the election. "Candidates for the Tribal Council must be at least one-fourth (1/4) Choctaw Indian by blood and must be twenty-one (21) years of age or older at the time they file for election."Once elected, a council member must remain a resident of the district from which he or she was elected during the term in office. This policy ensures the involvement and interaction of successful candidates with their constituency.
Once in office, the Tribal Council members have regularly scheduled county council meetings. The presence of these tribal leaders in the Indian community creates a sense of understanding of their community and its needs. The Tribal Council is responsible for adopting rules and regulations which govern the Choctaw Nation, for approving all budgets, making decisions concerning the management of tribal property, and all other legislative matters. The Tribal Council Members are the voice and representation of the Choctaw people in the tribal government.
The Tribal Councils assist the community to implement an economic development strategy and to plan, organize, and direct Tribal resources to achieve self-sufficiency. The Tribal Council is working to strengthen the Nation's economy, with efforts being focused on the creation of additional job opportunities through promotion and development. By planning and implementing its own programs and building a strong economic base, the Choctaw Nation applies its own fiscal, natural, and human resources to develop self-sufficiency.
The judicial authority of the Choctaw Nation is assigned to the Constitutional Court and the Court of General Jurisdiction. The former consists of a three-member court whom are appointed by the Chief. At least one member, the presiding judge (Chief Justice), must be a lawyer licensed to practice before the Supreme Court of Oklahoma. The current[ when? ] members of the Constitutional Court are Chief Justice David Burrage, Judge Mitch Mullen, and Judge Frederick Bobb.[ citation needed ]
The Choctaw Nation's annual tribal economic impact in 2010 was over $822,280,105.The tribe employs nearly 8,500 people worldwide; 2,000 of those work in Bryan County, Oklahoma. The Choctaw Nation is also the largest single employer in Durant. The nation's payroll is about $260 million per year, with total revenues from tribal businesses and governmental entities topping $1 billion.
The nation has contributed to raising Bryan County's per capita income to about $24,000. The Choctaw Nation has helped build water systems and towers, roads and other infrastructure, and has contributed to additional fire stations, EMS units and law enforcement needs that have accompanied economic growth.
The Choctaw Nation operates several types of businesses. It has seven casinos, 14 tribal smoke shops, 13 truck stops, and two Chili's franchises in Atoka and Poteau.It also owns a printing operation, a corporate drug testing service, hospice care, a metal fabrication and manufacturing business, a document backup and archiving business, and a management services company that provides staffing at military bases, embassies and other sites, among other enterprises.
The Choctaw Nation is the first indigenous tribe in the United States to build its own hospital with its own funding. 145,000-square-foot (13,500 m2) health facility with 37 hospital beds for inpatient care and 52 exam rooms. The $22 million hospital is complete with $6 million worth of state-of-the-art[ clarification needed ] equipment and furnishing. It serves 150,000–210,000 outpatient visits annually. The hospital also houses the Choctaw Nation Health Services Authority, the hub of the tribal health care services of Southeastern Oklahoma.The Choctaw Nation Health Care Center, located in Talihina, is a
The tribe also operates eight Indian clinics, one each in Atoka, Broken Bow, Durant, Hugo, Idabel, McAlester, Poteau, and Stigler.
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In July 2008, the United States Department of Defense announced the 2008 Secretary of Defense Employer Support Freedom Award recipients. They are awarded the highest recognition given by the U.S. Government to employers for their outstanding support of employees who serve in the National Guard and Reserve.
The Choctaw Nation was one of 15 recipients of that year's Freedom Award, selected from 2,199 nominations. Its representatives received the award September 18, 2008 in Washington, D.C. The Choctaw Nation is the first Native American tribe to receive this award.
At Andrew Jackson's request, the United States Congress opened a fierce debate on an Indian Removal Bill.In the end, the bill passed, but the vote was very close: The Senate passed the measure, 28 to 19, while in the House it passed, 102 to 97. Jackson signed the legislation into law June 30, 1830, and turned his focus onto the Choctaw in Mississippi Territory.
On August 25, 1830, the Choctaws were supposed to meet with Jackson in Franklin, Tennessee, but Greenwood Leflore, a district Choctaw chief, informed Secretary of War John H. Eaton that the warriors were fiercely opposed to attending. [ citation needed ]Jackson was angered. Journalist Len Green writes "although angered by the Choctaw refusal to meet him in Tennessee, Jackson felt from LeFlore's words that he might have a foot in the door and dispatched Secretary of War Eaton and John Coffee to meet with the Choctaws in their nation." Jackson appointed Eaton and General John Coffee as commissioners to represent him to meet the Choctaws at the Dancing Rabbit Creek near present-day Noxubee County, Mississippi.
Say to them as friends and brothers to listen [to] the voice of their father, & friend. Where [they] now are, they and my white children are too near each other to live in harmony & peace.... It is their white brothers and my wishes for them to remove beyond the Mississippi, it [contains] the [best] advice to both the Choctaws and Chickasaws, whose happiness... will certainly be promoted by removing.... There... their children can live upon [it as] long as grass grows or water runs.... It shall be theirs forever... and all who wish to remain as citizens [shall have] reservations laid out to cover [their improv]ements; and the justice due [from a] father to his red children will [be awarded to] them. [Again I] beg you, tell them to listen. [The plan proposed] is the only one by which [they can be] perpetuated as a nation.... I am very respectfully your friend, & the friend of my Choctaw and Chickasaw brethren. Andrew Jackson. -Andrew Jackson to the Choctaw & Chickasaw Nations, 1829.
The commissioners met with the chiefs and headmen on September 15, 1830, at Dancing Rabbit Creek. [ citation needed ]In carnival-like atmosphere, the policy of removal was explained to an audience of 6,000 men, women, and children. The Choctaws would now face migration or submit to US law as citizens. The treaty would sign away the remaining traditional homeland to the US; however, a provision in the treaty made removal more acceptable:
ART. XIV. Each Choctaw head of a family being desirous to remain and become a citizen of the States, shall be permitted to do so, by signifying his intention to the Agent within six months from the ratification of this Treaty, and he or she shall thereupon be entitled to a reservation of one section of six hundred and forty acres of land.... -Treaty of Dancing Rabbit Creek, 1830
On September 27, 1830, the Treaty of Dancing Rabbit Creek was signed. It represented one of the largest transfers of land that was signed between the US government and Native Americans without being instigated by warfare. By the treaty, the Choctaws signed away their remaining traditional homelands, opening them up for European-American settlement. The Choctaw were the first to walk the Trail of Tears. Article XIV allowed for nearly 1300 Choctaws to remain in the state of Mississippi and to become the first major non-European ethnic group to become US citizens.Article 22 sought to put a Choctaw representative in the U.S. House of Representatives. The Choctaw at this crucial time split into two distinct groups: the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma and the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians. The nation retained its autonomy, but the tribe in Mississippi submitted to state and federal laws.
To the voters of Mississippi. Fellow Citizens:-I have fought for you, I have been by your own act, made a citizen of your state; ... According to your laws I am an American citizen, ... I have always battled on the side of this republic ... I have been told by my white brethren, that the pen of history is impartial, and that in after years, our forlorn kindred will have justice and "mercy too" ... I wish you would elect me a member to the next Congress of the [United] States.-Mushulatubba, Christian Mirror and N.H. Observer, July 1830.
Midway through the Great Irish Famine (1845–1849), a group of Choctaws collected $710 ($19,000 in current dollar terms) (although many articles say the original amount was $170 ($5,000 after a misprint in Angie Debo's The Rise and Fall of the Choctaw Republic) and sent it to help starving Irish men, women and children. "It had been just 16 years since the Choctaw people had experienced the Trail of Tears, and they had faced starvation… It was an amazing gesture. By today's standards, it might be a million dollars," according to Judy Allen, editor of the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma's newspaper, Bishinik. The paper is based at the Oklahoma Choctaw tribal headquarters in Durant, Okla. To mark the 150th anniversary, eight Irish people retraced the Trail of Tears.
Ferguson states, "1903 MISS: Three-hundred Mississippi Choctaws were persuaded to remove to the Nation in Oklahoma."
In 2015 a sculpture known as 'Kindred Spirits ' was erected in the town of Midleton, County Cork, Ireland to commemorate the Choctaw Nation's donation. A delegation of 20 members of the Choctaw Nation attended the opening ceremony along with the County Mayor of Cork.
See:Choctaw in the American Civil War
By the early twentieth century, the United States government had passed laws which depleted much of the Choctaw's sovereignty and tribal rights in preparation for the Indian Territory becoming the State of Oklahoma. In violation of earlier treaties, the Dawes Commission registered tribal members in official rolls, and forced individual land allotments upon the Tribe's members allowing the "surplus" land to be ceded for white settlement. Many of the allotments were given "guardianship" to third parties while the owners were underage. During the oil boom of the early 20th century, the guardianships became very lucrative; there was widespread abuse and financial exploitation of Choctaw individuals. Charles Haskell, the future governor of Oklahoma, among other elites, took advantage of the situation.An Act of 1906 spelled out the final tribal dissolution agreements for all of the five civilized tribes and dissolved the Choctaw government. The Act also set aside a timber reserve, which might be sold at a later time and specifically excluded from allotment coal and asphalt lands. After the 1907 statehood of Oklahoma, tribal chiefs were appointed by the Secretary of the Interior.
During World War I the American army fighting in France became stymied by the Germans' ability to intercept its communications. Even worse, after intercepting them the Germans were also able to decrypt the codes, reading the Americans' secrets and knowing in advance their every move.
Several Choctaw Indians serving in the 142nd Infantry suggested using their native tongue, the Choctaw language, to transmit army secrets. Their gambit proved very successful, and almost immediately contributed to a turn-around on the Meuse-Argonne front. Captured German officers said they were baffled by the Choctaw words, which they were completely unable to translate. According to historian Joseph Greenspan, the Choctaw language did not have words for many military ideas, so the code-talkers had to invent other terms from their language. Examples are "'big gun' for artillery, 'little gun shoot fast' for machine gun, 'stone' for grenade and 'scalps' for casualties."Historians credit these soldiers with helping bring World War I to a faster conclusion.
There were fourteen Choctaw Code Talkers. The Army repeated the use of Native Americans as code talkers during World War II, working with soldiers from a variety of American Indian tribes. Collectively these Indians are known as code talkers.
Because the terms of the Burke Act of 1906, imposed full citizenship on the tribe 25 years after the law was passed, tribal leaders organized in 1928 by calling a convention of Choctaw and Chickasaw tribe members from throughout Oklahoma. The meeting was held in Ardmore with the purpose of discussing the burdens being placed upon the tribes due to passage and implementation of the Indian Citizenship Act and the Burke Act. Since their tribal governments had been abolished, the tribes were concerned about the inability to secure funds that were due them for their coal and asphalt lands to provide for their tribe members. Czarina Conlan was selected as chair of the convention. They appointed a committee composed of Henry J. Bond, Conlan, Peter J. Hudson, T.W. Hunter and Dr. E. N Wright, for the Choctaw and Ruford Bond, Franklin Bourland, George W. Burris, Walter Colbert and Estelle Ward, for the Chickasaw to determine how to address their concerns.The committee met to prepare the recommendations and broke with precedent, sending Conlan and Estelle Chisholm Ward to Washington, D.C. to argue in favor of passage of a bill proposed by U.S. House Representative Wilburn Cartwright for sale of the coal and asphalt holdings, as well as continuing the restrictions of selling Indian lands. It was the first time that women had been sent to Washington as representatives of their tribes.
As part of the Indian termination policy pursued by the US government from the 1940s through the 1960s, a series of laws was passed to enable the government to end its trust relationships with native tribes. One of the first of these laws passed on 13 August 1946—the Indian Claims Commission Act of 1946, Pub. L. No. 79-726, ch. 959. Its purpose was to settle for all time any outstanding grievances or claims the tribes might have against the U.S. for treaty breaches, unauthorized taking of land, dishonorable or unfair dealings, or inadequate compensation. Claims had to be filed within a five-year period, and most of the 370 complaints that were submitted were filed at the approach of the 5-year deadline in August, 1951In 1946, the government had appropriated funds for the tribal sale of coal and asphalt resources. Though they won their case, they were charged almost 10% of the $8.5 million award in administrative fees. In 1951, the tribe took advantage of the new law and filed a claim for over $750,000 to recover those fees.
When Harry J. W. Belvin was appointed chief in 1948 by the Secretary of the Interior, he realized that only federally recognized tribes were allowed to file a claim with the Commission. If he wanted to get that money back, his tribe needed to reorganize. He created a democratically elected tribal council and a constitution to re-establish a government, but his efforts were opposed by the Area Director of the Bureau of Indian Affairs. Ultimately, the tribe was able to file a claim with the Commission on a technicality in 1951. The suit was classified as a renewal of the 1944 case against the US Court of Claims, but that did not stop the antagonism between Belvin and the area BIA officialsThe BIA had had management issues for decades. Poorly trained personnel, inefficiency, corruption, and lack of consistent policy plagued the organization almost from its founding. For Belvin, relief from BIA oversight of policies and funds seemed as if it might pave the way for the Choctaw to maintain their own traditional ways of operating and reform their own governing council.
After eleven years as Choctaw chief, Belvin persuaded Representative Carl Albert of Oklahoma to introduce federal legislation to begin terminating the Choctaw tribe.On 23 April 1959, the BIA confirmed that H.R. 2722 had been submitted to Congress at the request of the tribe, and would sell all remaining tribal assets, but would not affect any individual Choctaw earnings. It also provided for retention of half of all mineral rights which could be managed by a tribal corporation.
On 25 August 1959, Congress passed a billto terminate the tribe, which was later called Belvin's law as he was the main advocate behind it. Belvin created overwhelming support for termination among tribespeople through his promotion of the bill, describing the process and expected outcomes. Tribal members later interviewed said that Belvin never used the word termination for what he was describing, and many people were unaware he was proposing termination. In actuality, the provisions of the bill were intended to be a final disposition of all trust obligations and a final "dissolution of the tribal governments."
The original act was to have expired in 1962, but was amended twice to allow more time to sell the tribal assets. As time wore on, Belvin realized that the bill severed the tribe members' access to government loans and other services, including the tribal tax exemption. By 1967, he had asked Oklahoma Congressman Ed Edmondson to try to repeal the termination act.Public sentiment was changing as well. The Choctaw people had seen what termination could do to tribes, since they witnessed the process with four other tribes in Oklahoma: the Wyandotte Nation, Peoria Tribe of Indians of Oklahoma, Ottawa Tribe of Oklahoma, and Modoc Tribe of Oklahoma. In 1969, ten years after passage of the Choctaw termination bill and one year before the Choctaws were to be terminated, word spread throughout the tribe that Belvin's law was a termination bill. Outrage over the bill generated a feeling of betrayal, and tribal activists formed resistance groups opposing termination. Groups such as the Choctaw Youth Movement in the late 1960s fought politically against the termination law. They helped create a new sense of tribal pride, especially among younger generations. Their protest delayed termination; Congress repealed the law on 24 August 1970.
The 1970s were a crucial and defining decade for the Choctaw. To a large degree, the Choctaw repudiated the more extreme Indian activism. They sought a local grassroots solution to reclaim their cultural identity and sovereignty as a nation.
On August 24, 1970, just hours before it would become law, Richard Nixon signed a bill repealing the Termination Act of 1959.[ clarification needed ] This close call prompted some Oklahoma Choctaw to spearhead a grassroots movement to change the direction of the tribal government. In 1971, the Choctaw held their first popular election of a chief since Oklahoma entered the Union in 1907.
A group calling themselves the Oklahoma City Council of Choctaws endorsed thirty-one-year-old David Gardner for chief, in opposition to the current chief, seventy-year-old Harry Belvin. Gardner campaigned on a platform of greater financial accountability, increased educational benefits, the creation of a tribal newspaper, and increased economic opportunities for the Choctaw people. Amid charges of fraud and rule changes concerning age, Gardner was declared ineligible to run as he did not meet the new minimum age requirement of thirty-five. Belvin was re-elected to a four-year term as chief.
In 1975, thirty-five-year-old David Gardner defeated Belvin to become the Choctaw Nation's second popularly elected chief. 1975 also marked the year that the United States Congress passed the landmark Indian Self-Determination and Education Assistance Act. This law revolutionized the relationship between Indian Nations and the federal government.[ citation needed ]
Native American tribes such as the Choctaw were granted the power to negotiate and contract directly for services, as well as to determine what services were in the best interest of their people. During Gardner's term as chief, a tribal newspaper, Hello Choctaw, was established. Along with the Creek and Cherokee, the Choctaw successfully sued the federal and state government over riverbed rights to the Arkansas River.
Discussions began on the issue of drafting and adopting a new constitution for the Choctaw people. A movement began to officially enroll more Choctaws, increase voter participation, and preserve the Choctaw language. In early 1978, David Gardner died of cancer at the age of thirty-seven. Hollis Roberts was elected chief in a special election, serving from 1978 to 1997.
A new publication, the Bishinik, replaced Hello Choctaw in June 1978. Spirited debates over a proposed constitution divided the people. In May 1979, they adopted a new constitution for the Choctaw nation.[ citation needed ]
Faced with termination as a sovereign nation in 1970, the Choctaws emerged a decade later as a tribal government with a constitution, a popularly elected chief, a newspaper, and the prospects of an emerging economy and infrastructure that would serve as the basis for further empowerment and growth.
In 2014, the Choctaw Nation was criticized by many of its own members when it announced that Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin would be participating in the tribe's annual Labor Day Festival and unveiling a statue meant to honor strong Native women. The reaction was fast and sharp, with comments such as that of Summer Wesley: "Mary Fallin has demonstrated to not be an ally to Native tribes, yet has been chosen to not only appear at Choctaw Fest, but to unveil a statue in honor of our women," Wesley said. "As a Choctaw woman, I am appalled that she is being given a platform for her insincere pandering and her participation in the unveiling causes the statue to lose all honor to me. Further, I think this sends the wrong message to Indian Country regarding the Choctaw Nation's priorities and loyalties. Fallin's participation implies that our Nation condones her anti-Native policies."
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As general terms, Indian Territory, the Indian Territories, or Indian country describe an evolving land area set aside by the United States Government for the relocation of Native Americans who held aboriginal title to their land. In general, the tribes ceded land they occupied in exchange for land grants in 1803. The concept of an Indian Territory was an outcome of the 18th- and 19th-century policy of Indian removal. After the Civil War (1861–1865), the policy of the government was one of assimilation.
The Trail of Tears was a series of forced relocations of Native Americans in the United States from their ancestral homelands in the Southeastern United States, to areas to the west that had been designated as Indian Territory. The forced relocations were carried out by government authorities following the passage of the Indian Removal Act in 1830. The relocated peoples suffered from exposure, disease, and starvation while en route to their new designated reserve, and many died before reaching their destinations. The forced removals included members of the Cherokee, Muscogee (Creek), Seminole, Chickasaw, Choctaw, and Ponca nations, as well as their African slaves. The phrase "Trail of Tears" originates from a description of the removal of many Native American tribes, including the infamous Cherokee Nation relocation in 1838.
The Chickasaw are an indigenous people of the Southeastern Woodlands. Their traditional territory was in the Southeastern United States of Mississippi, Alabama and Tennessee. They are of the Muskogean language family and are federally recognized as the Chickasaw Nation.
The term "Five Civilized Tribes" derives from the colonial and early federal period in the history of the United States. It refers to five Native American nations—the Cherokee, Chickasaw, Choctaw, Creek (Muscogee), and Seminole. These are the first five tribes that Anglo-European settlers generally considered to be "civilized". Examples of colonial attributes adopted by these five tribes include Christianity, centralized governments, literacy, market participation, written constitutions, intermarriage with white Americans, and plantation slavery practices. The Five Civilized Tribes tended to maintain stable political relations with the Europeans.
The Treaty of Dancing Rabbit Creek was a treaty signed on September 27, 1830, and proclaimed on February 24, 1831, between the Choctaw American Indian tribe and the United States Government. This was the first removal treaty carried into effect under the Indian Removal Act. The treaty ceded about 11 million acres (45,000 km2) of the Choctaw Nation in what is now Mississippi in exchange for about 15 million acres (61,000 km2) in the Indian territory, now the state of Oklahoma. The principal Choctaw negotiators were Chief Greenwood LeFlore, Musholatubbee, and Nittucachee; the U.S. negotiators were Colonel John Coffee and Secretary of War John Eaton.
The State of Sequoyah was a proposed state to be established from the Indian Territory in the eastern part of present-day Oklahoma. In 1905, with the end of tribal governments looming, Native Americans of the Five Civilized Tribes—the Cherokee, Choctaw, Chickasaw, Creek (Muscogee), and Seminole—in Indian Territory proposed to create a state as a means to retain control of their lands. Their intention was to have a state under Native American constitution and governance. The proposed state was to be named in honor of Sequoyah, the Cherokee who created a writing system in 1825 for the Cherokee language.
The Chickasaw Nation is a federally recognized Native American nation, located in Oklahoma. They are one of the members of the Five Civilized Tribes. The Chickasaw Nation traces its origins to its homeland of modern day Mississippi, Tennessee, Alabama and Kentucky.
The Treaty with Choctaws and Chickasaws was a treaty signed on July 12, 1861 between the Choctaw and Chickasaw and the Confederate States of America. At the beginning of the American Civil War, Albert Pike was appointed as Confederate envoy to Native Americans. In this capacity he negotiated several treaties, one of the most important being with Cherokee chief John Ross, which was concluded in 1861. The treaty was ratified and was proclaimed on December 20, 1861 by the Confederacy. The Choctaw and Chickasaw also duly ratified the treaty.
The Choctaw code talkers were a group of Choctaw Indians from Oklahoma who pioneered the use of Native American languages as military code. Their exploits took place during the waning days of World War I. The government of the Choctaw Nation maintains that the men were the first American native code talkers ever to serve in the US military.
An Organic Act is a generic name for a statute used by the United States Congress to describe a territory, in anticipation of being admitted to the Union as a state. Because of Oklahoma's unique history,, an explanation of the Oklahoma Organic Act needs a historic perspective. In general, the Oklahoma Organic Act may be viewed as one of a series of legislative acts, from the time of Reconstruction, enacted by Congress in preparation for the creation of a unified State of Oklahoma. The Organic Act created Oklahoma Territory, and Indian Territory that were Organized incorporated territories of the United States out of the old "unorganized" Indian Territory. The Oklahoma Organic Act was one of several acts whose intent was the assimilation of the tribes in Oklahoma and Indian Territories through the elimination of tribal reservations and the elimination of the tribes' communal ownership of property.
On the eve of the American Civil War in 1861, a significant number of Indigenous peoples of the Americas had been relocated from the Southeastern United States to Indian Territory, west of the Mississippi. The inhabitants of the eastern part of the Indian Territory, the Five Civilized Tribes, were suzerain nations with established tribal governments, well established cultures, and legal systems that allowed for slavery. Before European Contact these tribes were generally matriarchial societies, with agriculture being the primary economic pursuit. The bulk of the tribes lived in towns with planned streets, residential and public areas. The people were ruled by complex hereditary chiefdoms of varying size and complexity with high levels of military organization.
As the 1960s emerged, a growing sensitivity to minority rights was born, spurred by Supreme Court decisions such as Brown v. Board of Education, Gideon v. Wainwright, Loving v. Virginia and legislation including the Voting Rights Act of 1957, the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Voting Rights Act of 1965 and the Fair Housing Act if 1968. Into this turbulent time, a pan-Indian movement developed predominantly with the goals of having the US government return native lands, right social ills, and provide funds for cultural education. The Red Power Movement and American Indian Movement were both born out of this pan-Indian awakening, which was, at least in the beginning, an urban phenomenon, an awareness of ones "Indian-ness" and the similarities of tribal customs. In cities, cut off from the tribe, one still experienced things that bound them to other native people because of an innate oneness of tribal behavior and kinship of tradition. After years of being told that relocation to cities would help them assimilate into the greater society, Native American experience was non-acceptance, isolation, and paternalism, which led them to each other for a sense of connection. In just such an environment, young Choctaw activists began awakening in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.
Harry James Watson "Jimmy" Belvin was an educator and served as an Oklahoma State Representative and Senator. He was the first elected principal chief of any of the Five Civilized Tribes in the 20th century, and the longest serving principal chief of the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma. He saw his tribe through termination, restoration, and a rebirth of Native Pride. He was a polarizing leader, seen by some as a semi-dictator who held onto the office of principal chief and used his power to advocate for complete assimilation into the dominant society, suppressing Choctaw traditions, language and ceremonial practices as undesirable remnants of an unrefined history. To others, he was a well-liked, populist leader, who went door-to-door talking with tribe members, informing them on issues, and trying to develop the means the alleviate the poverty and unemployment they faced.
Czarina Conlan (1871-1958) was a Choctaw-Chickasaw archivist, who curated at the Oklahoma Historical Society museum for 24 years. She founded the first woman's club in Indian Territory and served as the chair of the Oklahoma Indian Welfare Committee of the Oklahoma State Federation of Women's Clubs for 12 years. She was the first woman elected to serve on a school board in the state and though the Attorney General of Oklahoma ruled she could not serve, she defied the order and completed a two-year term on the Lindsay School Board. In 1928, she was appointed by an assembly of 400-500 Choctaw and Chickasaw tribe members from throughout Oklahoma to chair their convention and then to represent their interests in Washington, D.C. on the pending coal and asphalt resources bill. It was the first time a woman had been sent from either tribe as a representative for their tribe in Washington. She was inducted into the Oklahoma Hall of Fame in 1935.
The Treaty of Pontotoc Creek was a treaty signed on October 20, 1832 by representatives of the United States and the Chiefs of the Chickasaw Nation assembled at the National Council House on Pontotoc Creek, Mississippi. The treaty ceded the 6,283,804 million acres of the remaining Chickasaw homeland in Mississippi in return for Chickasaw relocation on an equal amount of land west of the Mississippi River.
The Mount Tabor Indian Community is a state-recognized tribe made up of primarily Cherokees as well as Choctaw, Chickasaw and Muscogee-Creek Indians located in Rusk County, Texas. They are descended from Cherokee who migrated to Texas prior to the Cherokee War of 1839 under Duwa'li or The Bowl. They sought refuge in Monclova, Mexico after 1840, when the Republic of Texas was trying to expel Indians from East Texas. Led by Chicken Trotter, also known as Devereaux Jarrett Bell, the group fought a guerilla campaign against the Republic of Texas from Mexico throughout 1840 to 1842.