Among the first white men who came into the territory of the Choctaw and Chickasaw were Isaac Perry, Benjamin James, Louis Durant, the Folsom Brothers, Nathaniel, Edmund and Ebenezer, Louis and Michael Lefleau (Leflore), Charles Juzan, John Turnbull, Thomas Vaughan, John Pitchlynn, John Jean Cravatt, Samuel Mitchell, the Brashears brothers Zadoc, Turner, and Alexander, and James "Roscoe" Cole. They married into the tribe, and most remained among them until their deaths. Often these names will be seen as interpreters on treaties with the United States. Many of the women these men married were sisters and female relatives of the Chiefs of the districts or towns in which they resided. This allowed their offspring great influence in the tribal politics.
As they were among the first offered the opportunity for education at the missionary schools in the Choctaw Nation, and many of them or their descendants were students at the Choctaw Academy in Scott County, Kentucky.
Pushmataha and Moshulatubee were strong advocates of education for the Choctaw early on. Not much is written about Apuckanubbee's view, but missionary schools were placed in his district as well, and Robert Cole, his second in command, and presumed nephew, was distressed when one of his nephews couldn’t attend school. It can be presumed that the mixed blooded children had an advantage, as some were bilingual, even if they could barely read or write, and the importance of education in treaty negotiations with the government was always stressed. The objection that the leaders had was with the missionaries’ emphasis on religion that was included with the education of their tribe.
Pushmataha strongly supported the United States government, an act some of the full blood Choctaw who descend from those did not sign the Treaty of Dancing Rabbit Creek view as an act of a treason.
His reasoning may not ever be fully known, but it was a surpassingly well planned tactical move for his people. By always befriending the United States, and by educating the youth so that they were better prepared to deal with the government agents, the Choctaw when compared with other Indian nations fared pretty well. Although the government never did fulfill all of it's obligations to the Choctaw, they received the largest land settlement in the new territory, and until the Dawes commission, while financially in disrepair, had a reputation of being a well governed nation with less crime than some of it's neighbors. When compared, especially to the treatment of some of the Western and Plain tribes, the Choctaw did indeed get more from the government than most tribes ever did.
While the Trail of Tears brings to mind the plight of the Cherokee, the name was actually coined by one of the Choctaw Chiefs. (George Harkins or Nitakechi) A large percentage of the Choctaw who were moved by the government in three different trips died en route, mostly the elderly and the young. They had no or poor shelter, rations if present were scarce, and often spoiled, and in many ways the governments plan for removal was ill prepared and cost many lives. Unlike the Cherokee, there were no armed soldiers forcing them to march, but like the Cherokee, the trail killed many.
Many of the names on these pages are among the limited few that United States Indian Agent Ward allowed to register under article 14 of the Treaty of Dancing Rabbit Creek. While some remained on their lands for the rest of their lives, most sold, or in some cases, "lost" their land and immigrated to Oklahoma at a later date than the government migration, paying for their own passage for their families and slaves. This familial migration occurred from 1833 until as late as the latter 1880's.
Unfortunately, many of the Choctaw who remained in Mississippi, mostly full bloods, were unable to register under article 14 due to the manipulations of Agent Ward, and descendants of these families are continuing to this day to attempt to gain recognition by the government and claim the land promised, but never given. Different bands of Choctaws did migrate with encouragement from the government, and the missionaries over the years, but most remained in Mississippi and Alabama where their hereditary lands were. The few Choctaw who retained their reservations, and generous white citizens (generally a church or missionary); have allowed some of these families to live on their lands, where they have remained for the last one hundred and seventy years.
The government, while promising citizenship in the treaty to those who remained in Mississippi failed to legally recognized them, they were often omitted, enumerated as white, or mulatto on census documents, and in some cases, were unable to hold land, vote or attend schools. Some of the "Cajuns" attributed to the region are actually thought to be of Choctaw descent.
Once the mixed bloods arrived within the new territory, they settled in districts as they had before they left Mississippi, only it is evident by 1855 that politics was in play, as many families are living in different districts in the new territory than they did in the old. One of the major political disagreements, especially while Moshulatubee was alive, was the presence of the Missionaries within the nation. Families tended to live in the same Choctaw counties as their relatives, but some families, such as the Leflore's, lived in several. The council, which formed into a congress and a senate, with an election process similar to the United States Government, was made primarily up of the descendants of the mixed blood families. The relationships of these families between the relationships of blood and by marriage are complex, and confusing, as cousins married cousins, and a small number of families married into each other.
Apart from their leadership, it also seems apparent that nepotism took place in the allotment of rights for stations and toll bridges for the Butterfield Stage Coach, as most of the families were related at least by marriage, if not by blood. Many of the slaveholders of the Choctaw Nation were among the mixed blood contingent, whose degree of blood at this point had risen considerably from it's initial value of 1/8 to 1/2, to many being almost full blood by 1890. These slaveholders often had large lots of land and large homes, in some cases, such as Wilson N. Jones, they owned several. (He had three.) Most of the full blood contingents were small farmers who scratched out a living, much like the cracker farmers of the south. They may have owned a slave, but many were too poor. The missionary schools were present, and many of the Choctaw had converted to Christianity by the late 1840's and early 1850's.
Much has been written about the change in hereditary leadership to an electoral process in nearly all the books written on the Choctaw. This, while true, is misleading.
Although the position of Chief generally went to the nephew of the Chief through the sister of the former Chief, the council would chose the candidate also based on his merits as a warrior. H.B. Cushman uses this example in reference to Pushmataha. Presumably, the need for this was that their may be more than one nephew who was vying for leadership. Additionally, the first Chiefs most books referred to as "elected" were descendants of the same three bloodlines as the former Chiefs Moshulatubee (David Folsom and Robert Kincaid), Apuckshunnubbee (presumed relationship, Robert Cole, Greenwood Leflore, Thomas Leflore), and Pushmataha (Oklahomma, Tappenahoma, Nitakechi, and Pierre Juzan). The descendants of these families continued an active role in tribal government until the Dawes Commission act of 1896, many holding the office of Chief.
The Dawes Commission effectively broke up the Choctaw Nation, as it did the tribes of the Seminole, Creek, Cherokee, and Chickasaw. This had been the plan put in motion before the treaty of 1820, to "civilize" and main stream the native's into the culture. Sadly, although the tribe continues with its government, and promotes education in the language of Choctaw, and customs, many of the descendants of Choctaws on the Dawes are not tribal members, do not speak the language, or know for sure they are even Choctaw.
Maybe the Choctaw didn't do so well after all.
Kidwell, Clara Sue, Choctaws and Missionaries in Mississippi,
1818-1918, 1995, University of Oklahoma Press, Norman,
Foreman, Grant Indian Removal 1932, University of Oklahoma
Press, Norman, Oklahoma
Cushman, H. B., History of the Choctaw, Chickasaw and
Natchez Indians, 1999, 1932, 1899, University of Oklahoma
Press, Norman, Oklahoma
Matte, Jacqueline, They Say The Wind is Red,
Derosier, Arthur H. The Removal of the Choctaw Indians, 1976
Debo, Angie The Rise and Fall of the Choctaw Republic
Foreman, Grant The Five Civilized Tribes
American State Papers, Vol. 7
Oklahoma Historical Chronicles, (various articles)