This is the approved anglicized form of Chikasha, the Choctaw name for the tribe. The term is a mnemonic, chik'asha (chik'äshä), from the original phrase chikkih ashachi, meaning "they left as a tribe not a very great while ago," from the old Choctaw expression chikkih, "not a very great while ago," and ashachi, "to leave," used in the plural sense with reference to a group or tribe. Both legend and tradition point to the separation of the Chickasaw from the Choctaw some time before the discovery by De Soto in 1540. The name Chikasha or Chickasaw has also been said to signify "rebellion."
The Chickasaw are of the Muskhogean linguistic family and are one of the Five Civilized Tribes of Oklahoma. Their native written language is the same as that of the Choctaw; their speech is also identical except for some dialectal expressions. The two tribes are closely related and have been associated in their history, although with the coming of the European traders and colonists to the native habitation east of the Mississippi River during the eighteenth century, they were sometimes at war with each other.
The country of the Chickasaw is historic times was in northeastern Mississippi, their original land claims extending east into what is now Alabama and north through western Tennessee and western Kentucky to the Ohio River. On the frontiers of this region, they were confronted on the east, north, and west by Indian people of alien tribal cultures; on the east and southeast by the algonquian; on the north by the Southern Siouan; and on the west by the Caddoan. The Chickasaw were always comparatively small tribe but were courageous in the defense of their homes and territory. They became noted for their warlike disposition, which brought them into frequent conflict with neighboring tribes in the eighteenth century. The full-blood Chickasaw are generally of medium height, having small hands and feet and regular features. Some of the mixed-blood members of the tribe, both men and women have been noted for their beauty. As citizens of Oklahoma, they are successful in business, and many of them have been signally honored in profession life.
Present Location. Twelve counties and parts of counties east of the ninety-eighth meridian, lying between the Canadian and the Red rivers in southern Oklahoma, comprise the region included in the Chickasaw Nation from 1855 to 1907. Families of Chickasaw descent are living in this region, the largest full-blood settlements being found in Pontotoc, Johnston, and Love counties. Many of the Chickasaw make their homes in the large cities and towns in the state, including Oklahoma City, McAlester, Durant, Ardmore, and Pauls Valley.
Numbers. The United States Office of Indian Affairs reported 5,350 Chickasaw in Oklahoma (census of 1944), of whom approximately 700 were full-blood members of the tribe. These numbers represent persons identified with the Chickasaw tribal interest under the administration of the Five Civilized Tribes Agency at Muskogee, but do not include all persons of Chickasaw descent in Oklahoma, since many are not officially under agency administration.
When the Chickasaw rolls were closed on march 4, 1907, they showed 6,319 members of the tribe, of whom 1,538 were classed as full-blood, 4,146 as part blood, and 635 as intermarried white.
The census report of the United States Indian Office for 1890-91 gave a total of 6,400 Chickasaw. At the close of the Civil Ware in 1865, their numbers were reported at 4,500, showing a decrease of 400 since the beginning of the war, those who had gone north during the conflict not yet having returned and settled in their homes in the Indian Territory.
Frontier wars and epidemics, which decimated all Indian tribes during the eighteenth century, reduced the numbers of the Chickasaw, their estimated population of between 3,000 and 3,500 in 1700 decreasing to 2,290 in 1780.
History. Chickasaw legend and tradition tell of the ancient migration from the Far West and their settlement on the East Side of the Mississippi River. These myths, like those of the Choctaw relate the travels of the Chickasaw from a home in the West over a long period of time, following their leader, who carried a mystic pole that leaned toward the east until some time after crossing the Mississippi. The oldest location of the Chickasaw in what is now Mississippi was long known as "Chickasaw Old Fields," a beautiful prairie extending about ten or twelve miles from north to south and lying east of Tupelo, in Lee County.
In this region, near a river, probably the Tombigbee, the Spanish explorer De Soto and his men, who arrived there late in 1540, discovered the tribe. In the narratives of this expedition, the Chickasaw have the distinction of being one of the Five Civilized Tribes mentioned by the name that they still bear, the spelling given as Chicaca or Chicaza. During the winter of 1540-41, the Spaniards encamped near the Chickasaw villages, on one occasion Chief "Miculasa" visiting the encampment and bringing many presents of deerskins and other materials.
In his preparations to leave the country toward spring, De Soto demanded that the Chickasaw send him two hundred men to serve as burden carriers. Incensed by the order and by previous cruel acts on the part of the Spaniards, the brave Chickasaw warriors made a skillful attack on the encampment during the night of March 4, 1541. De Soto's men were put to rout, and most of their horses and their large herd of hogs were lost. In winning this battle, the Chickasaw made the greatest stroke for freedom in the early history of the Southeast and justified their later reputation as a fighting people.
Only scattered references to the tribe occur in the Spanish records for the next 150 years. In 1698, the English made their first contacts with Chickasaw leaders, and by 1700, English traders reached the Mississippi River, soon establishing their trading operations in the Chickasaw country, which served as the base for British trade and power. Henceforth, the Chickasaw was the loyal allies of the English until the American Revolution, when they became attached to the American colonies, some of their warriors and leaders serving with distinction in the Colonial armies.
Throughout the eighteenth century, they were often at war and won a number of decisive victories over the neighboring tribes: the Shawnee, in 1715 and 1745; the Yatasi (Caddoan) west of the Mississippi, in 1717; the Cherokee, in a battle fought at the Chickasaw Oil Fields, in 1768; and the Creek, who invaded the Chickasaw country, in 1795-95. The Chickasaw, in alliance with English traders, were blamed for the uprising of the Natchez in 1729, which brought the annihilation of the Natchez by the French two years later.
Rivalry between the English and the French from the trade and the control of the Mississippi region was the main cause of the Indian frontier wars in the eighteenth century. As allies of the English, the Choctaw and their neighbors who were aligned with the French harassed the Chickasaw. In the midst of this trouble, the Chickasaw inflicted two decisive defeats on the French and their Indian allies; the first, on D'Artaguett's army and bands of Illinois tribes; the second, on the French commander Bienville, with the Choctaw, in the famous Battle of Ackia on May 26, 1736. Powder and lead captured in the first engagement served the Chickasaw will in the second when they made their stand in their strong stockaded village of Ackia, over which it was reported the English flag was seen during the fighting. This battle was fought about five miles northwest of Tupelo, in Lee County, Mississippi, and was important historically in that it indicated the power of the English and foreshadowed their final defeat of the French in America.
The Chickasaw settlements centered in what is now Pontotoc County, Mississippi, in the eighteenth century, extending generally eastward toward the Chickasaw Oil Fields in Lee County, on the upper sources of the Tombigbee River. In 1720, there were four of these settlements situated like the sides of a square, some distance apart, each extending from four to ten miles in length. Toward the close of the century, the tribe had been greatly reduced in population, and nearly all the Chickasaw had settled in a rich tract about three miles in extent, which formed the northern angle of the Old Fields. Each settlement had consisted of several village or "towns," of which there were seven listed in a report in 1771, one called Hashuk Homma (Ashuck homma), "Red Grass," strongly fortified with a high surrounding stockade.
A number of houses in one locality made up a village, some winter houses and other summer houses, each with a "hot house" or "sweat house," corn cribs, potato house, and sometimes a chicken house near at hand. The winter house was circular in shape with an earthen floor about three feet below the surface of the ground, and was constructed of a heavy framework of pine timber covered with poles lashed together with split saplings, plastered with a thick coating of clay, and thatched on the outside with long dry grass. The summer house was rectangular in shape with a gable roof and was less compactly built than the winter house, the clay-plastered walls whitewashed inside and outside the dwelling. The peculiarity of the Chickasaw summerhouse was the central partition dividing it into two rooms, a plan, which is said to have been the origin of the double log cabin that became popular on the western frontier.
From about 1700, the Chickasaw engaged extensively in English trading operations in the Southwest. A Chickasaw representing the English interest was seen at the Tawakoni village on the Arkansas River in Oklahoma when the French office La Harpe first visited this region in 1719. Trading activities and ware expeditions were long the principal occupations in the tribe, little attention being given to agriculture other than the raising of vegetables and the cultivation of small fields, tended mostly by the women. Large supplies of corn were purchased from the Choctaw.
White traders and employees settled and married among the Chickasaw and were the progenitors of a number of mixed-blood families prominent in the history of Oklahoma. Among the names of white men in the Chickasaw country listed by the British Colonial Office at London in 1766-67 were James Calbert (Colbert?), James Adair, Alexander McIntosh, William Kemp, William James, Martin Cheadle, and Benjamin Sealy. Others identified with the Chickasaw about the time of the American Revolution included James Gunn, John McLish (or McCleish), Malcomb McGee, James Allen, E. (?) Pickens, John Bynum, Bernard McLaughlin and Thomas Love, some of whom were reported British Loyalist. The sons of Thomas Love-Henry, Benjamin, Isaac, Slone, William and Robert-were prominent in Chickasaw history. Much of James Adair's History of the American Indians, published in London in 1775, was devoted to descriptions of life and customs among the Chickasaw.The Colbert family has long been notable; William, George, Levi and James Colbert were all prominent tribal leaders in their day, the sons of a Scot who married a Chickasaw sometime before the Revolution.
In their tribal government, the Chickasaw ere ruled by a head chief ormi ko, which means "chief" but is usually found translated as "king" in the historical records concerning the Chickasaw, in accordance with the translation used by the early English traders and officers. The mi ko or "king" was selected from the highest-ranking clan in the tribe and was chosen by the tribal council to serve in the office for life. Originally, each clan was ruled by a sub-chief, descent in the clan being reckoned in the female line. Next to the Chickasaw "king" was the war chief or tishu mi ko, signifying and "assistant to the chief," an old title which also used in the Choctaw tribal government.
The last Chickasaw war chief was the noted Chief Tishomingo, who was awarded a pension for life from the national Chickasaw funds for "his long and valuable service" by the terms of the treaty of Pontotoc in 1832. He was reported to have died on the Trail of Tears and to have been buried near Little Rock, Arkansas, about 1838 at the age of 102 years. The old revered "queen" of the Chickasaw, name Pako li (Puc-cauna-la) also died about the same time on the journey west. She, too, was awarded a life pension by the treaty of Pontotoc and was undoubtedly of a high-ranking clam and accorded the title of "queen" in her own right, probably as the mother or aunt of the last Chickasaw "king," Ishtehotopa, in the old tribal government in Oklahoma. Ishtehotopa was chosen "king" in 1820 and died in Chickasaw District in the late eighteen forties.
Official relations between the tribe and the United States began in 1786, when the first Chickasaw treaty was signed at Hopewell on the Keowee River, South Carolina, by their representatives under the leadership of the noted chief Piamingo. This treaty established the Ohio River as the northern boundary of the Chickasaw country, stipulated that all trade in the tribe be regulated by Congress, and provided for the cession to the United States of a tract five miles square at the Muscle Shoals, on the Tennessee River, for a trading post. Up to 1902 there were a total of fourteen Chickasaw treaties and agreements with the United States, not including two special ones with the Choctaw -one, in 1837, providing for the settlement of the Chickasaw in the Choctaw nation; the other, in 1854, establishing the boundary line between the two nations. In 1818, all Chickasaw lands north of the southern boundary of Tennessee were ceded to the United States by treaty.
The plan for the removal of the tribe from Mississippi was first projected in the treaty of 1832, which was signed at the tribal council house on Pontotoc Creek, in present-day Pontotoc County, Mississippi, and provided for the cession to the United States of all Chickasaw lands east of the Mississippi River. These lands were to be surveyed and sold by the government, the net proceeds to be paid to the Chickasaw nation. Every Chickasaw family could select from one to five sections of their Mississippi lands, upon certain conditions, to be held as an allotment until a new county was found west of the river, the proceeds from the sale of all allotments to be placed in the national funds.
Dissatisfaction among the leaders and their people led to two supplemental treaties, on October 22, 1832, and May 24, 1834, which resulted in the granting of land allotments in fee simple, the proceeds from all sales to be placed in the national funds for the benefit of the individual allottees. Furthermore, a Chickasaw commission was created - composed of Ishtehotopa, Levi Colbert, George Colbert, Martin Colbert, Isaac Alberson, Henry Love, and Benjamin Love - to have supervisory control over the national funds, with the power of certifying the competency of the individual Chickasaw allottee in the management of his affairs and the money derived from the sale of his allotments. The Chickasaw treaty of 1834 marks the first use on record of the term "competent," with the implication of "incompetent" in regard to members of an Indian tribe.
No suitable country had been found for the settlement of the Chickasaw as late as 1836. The government's removal of the Indians was reaching a crisis, and there were insistent demands in the southeastern states that all the tribes be moved out from their boundaries.
At the urging of government agents, a meeting was arranged between representative of the Chickasaw and the Choctaw at Doaksville, where an agreement was finally signed on January 17, 1837, concerning the settlement of the Chickasaw in the Choctaw Nation, with all the rights and privileges of Choctaw citizens, a district to be set aside and organized as the Chickasaw District, the land within the boundaries to be held in common by the two nations. The people of the Chickasaw District were to have equal representation in the Choctaw General Council with the citizens of other districts organized under the Choctaw government. Each Choctaw and Chickasaw had the rights to choose a location and made a home in any district in the country. For the rights and privileges secured in the Doaksville treaty, the Chickasaw were to pay $530,000 out of their national funds to the Choctaw Nation. It was further stipulated that all financial affairs of the two nations should be kept entirely separate and under the control of their respective officers.
The Chickasaw, who were advanced in civilization, educated their children and generally lived in comfortable circumstances according to Mississippi frontier standards, although they still held to many of their old tribal customs and beliefs. Missionary efforts had been begun among the people in 1819 by the Reverend Robert Bell, under the auspices of Elk Presbytery of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church.
They were the wealthiest of any of the Indian nations or tribes when they emigrated from Mississippi in the winter of 1837-38. A large national fund from the sale of their lands (approximately 6,282, -804 acres) had been invested under government auspices to bring in an income to be paid out in annuities or for the benefit of all the Chickasaw. All families had disposed of their allotments to advantage and invested some of the proceeds in Negro slaves. Their influential mixed-blood families were wealthy in slaves and other property. Pitman Colbert, an enterprising trader, had six mules and a special wagon to haul his money (in gold loaded in kegs) from Mississippi to Doaksville, where he later operated a trader's store.
Although the Chickasaw traveled west to Indian Territory in comfort by comparison with other Indian tribes during the removal, they too, endured many hardships. They had been practically forced to leave their old homes and the country that their people had found for and cherished through many generations. They suffered deprivations and epidemics in the emigration, and some of their people died and were buried on the way.
The Chickasaw arrived in the Indian Territory at two points: at Fort Coffee near the Choctaw Agency by the way of steamboats up the Arkansas River, and at Doaksville near Fort Towson by the way of the military trail west from the Arkansas boundary and on beyond the Mountain Fork River. The people first made their homes in Choctaw districts that had already been organized for several years. Since the Chickasaw District had been recently organized, it lay west, extending to the western boundaries of the Choctaw Nation in the region where the Comanche and other Plains tribes had their village, the hostile bands sometimes raiding herds of stock as far east as the mouth of the Washita River and threatening trouble to any newcomer who might settle here. The United States established Fort Washita, in present Bryan County, in 1942, for the protection of the Chickasaw, but another decade passed before there was any extended permanent settlement in their district.
When the Chickasaw came to the Indian Territory in the winter of 1837-38, they were listed in four companies - Tishomingo's, McGilbery's, Isaac Alberson's, and Tom Sealy's -which had been organized for expediting tribal business and payment of annuities. These four companies continued the listing of those living in four districts that had been originally organized in 1815 under the supervision of the United States agent for the payment of annuities.
The power of Ishethotopa as "king" was nominal for many years, especially with the creation of the Chickasaw Commission in 1834, when that body virtually took over the rule of the nation. Soon after the treaty in 1834, the death of Levi Colbert, who had served with United States troops under General Jackson in the battle of New Orleans and had long been recognized as a councilor by his people, left the leadership in the hands of George Colbert, who was the recognized chief of the Chickasaw at the time of the removal until his death in 1839. George Colbert was buried at Fort Towson with honors for he was a veteran of the American Revolution, having served under General Washington and been commissioned a major in the army and awarded a sword. He had also served under General Wayne and under General Jackson, by whom he had been commissioned colonel in the Seminole wars. Colonel Colbert had been described as physically and mentally a great man, with an erect carriage even in his last years before his death at the age of ninety-five.
The Chickasaw were unreconciled to their new situation, their leaders complaining that they were outnumbered in the General Council and had little power in their government relations with the Choctaw. Moreover, they were fearful that the Choctaw would eventually control their finances. With the establishment of Fort Washita, tribal settlements increased along the Texas Road and were preparing in the vicinity of Perryville, Bobby Depot, Fort Washita, and on south to the Red River valley, where some of the Loves and the Colberts had large plantations. The disposition and control of their national funds led to feuds among the Chickasaw that in time resulted in lawlessness and, in some instances, murders in the neighborhood of Fort Washita.
Two factions arose. Isaac Alberson, who had been elected and was serving as chief of the Chickasaw District in 1844, advocated the settlement of all the people in the Chickasaw District with their own laws, officers, and schools. His opponents, led by Pitman Colbert, objected to the appropriation of money from the national funds for the establishment of schools and advocated the observance of the old tribal customs. When the time came for the annuity payments, Agency William Armstrong would not turn the funds over to the members of the
Chickasaw Commission but paid out the money direct to the individual members of the tribe.
Finally a meeting of the Chickasaw Council was held in 1845 at Boiling Spring, a short distance west of Fort Washita, where members and other leaders voiced their views of the tribal controversies before a throng of tribesmen and visitors. Pitman Colbert controlled the council proceedings and dominated the scene-an even long remembered-his son-in-law, Sampson Folsom, furnishing thirty-two beeves to feed the crowd.
While dissatisfaction and contentions continued over finances, tribal affairs took over a semblance of unity with the election of Edmund Pickens as the chief under the formal written constitution (their first) adopted by the Chickasaw in 1848. Provisions aimed at the settlement of the problem concerning the national funds were secured in a treaty made at Washington in 1842, signed by Edmund Pickens, Benjamin S. Love, and Sampson Folsom, the certified commissioners in behalf of the "Chickasaw tribe of Indians."
The most important event in their history after their removal to the Indian Territory was the conclusion of the treaty of 1855 in Washington, signed by George W. Manypenny, commissioner for the United States; Peter P. Pitchlynn, Israel Folsom, Samuel Garland, and Dixon W. Lewis, commissioners for the Choctaw; and Edmund Pickens and Sampson Folsom, commissioners for the Chickasaw. This treaty defined the boundaries of a district wherein the Chickasaw were secured "the unrestricted right of self-government and full jurisdiction, over persons and property." This district comprised approximately 4,707,903 acres lying between the Canadian and the Red rivers as far west as the ninety-eighth meridian, the eastern boundary of the large tract beginning on Red River at the mouth of Island Bayou, thence running northwesterly to the source of the eastern prong of the bayou, and thence due north to the Canadian River. Furthermore, all lands under the Choctaw patent from the Arkansas boundary to the one-hundredth meridian were open to settlement anywhere by the Choctaw and the Chickasaw.
Since the Chickasaw numbered approximately one-fourth the population of the Choctaw, the sum of $800,000 paid by the government under the terms of the same treaty for the perpetual lease of the lands west of the ninety-eighth meridian was divided on the basis of one-fourth to the Chickasaw and three-fourths to the Choctaw. The government in the division and payment to the respective tribes of the income from royalties and sales of tribal property (coal, asphalt, timber has observed this ratio stone, etc.).
The new treaty was proclaimed at Washington on March 4, 1856, and the following August a mass convention of the Chickasaw was held at Good Spring on Pennington Creek. This place had been established as the tribal council grounds and a hewn-log council house erected here in 1853. Jackson Kemp served as president of the convention, a constitution drafted by Holmes Colbert and Sampson Folsom was adopted, and the new government of the Chickasaw Nation organized with legislative, executive, and judicial departments. Members of the bicameral legislature were elected by the people, the executive authority was vested in the "Governor of the Chickasaw Nation" elected by the people, and members of the Supreme Court were elected by the legislature. Cyrus Harris was elected the first governor, and Homes Colbert, national secretary. The capital of the nation was established at Good Spring and named "Tishomingo City," in honor of Chief Tishomingo.
Unfortunately, the manuscript of the constitution and laws was lost on the way to Texas to be printed. This was cause for alarm, for no one knew the new laws, and the tribal officials seemed unable to enforce the Choctaw laws which were to remain in effect until the new Chickasaw government was established by stipulation in the treaty of 1855. A special session of the council in August 1856, succeeded in establishing a new order with a redraft of the constitution and laws, which were published soon afterward at Tishomingo City. A brick capitol completed there the following year was the meeting place for the Chickasaw legislature until a handsome stone capitol was erected near the same location, through an appropriation of tribal funds in 1896. This stone building has served as the county courthouse at Tishomingo, the county seat of Johnston County.
The first written law of the Chickasaw in 1844 provided for an appropriation to establish a tribal academy. At a cost of nearly 412,000, a large stone building was completed about three miles southeast of Tishomingo, and the institution was opened in 1851 as the Chickasaw Manual Labor School for boys. The Reverent J. C. Robinson, missionary preacher of the Methodist Episcopal Church, served as superintendent. Four other boarding schools were subsequently opened. Wapanucka Institute for girls, 1852; Bloomfield Academy for girls, 1852, Collins Institute (later called Colbert Institute), 1854; Burney Institute for girls 1859.
At the outbreak of the Civil war, a treaty with the Confederate States was signed jointly by the Chickasaw and Choctaw. Nevertheless, a strong element among the Chickasaw remained loyal to the Union, including several prominent leaders; and nearly 250 members of the tribe went north to Kansas, where they remained as refugees until 1865. Chickasaw troops served in the Confederate Army and were the last Confederate forces in the Indian Territory when they surrendered under the order of Governor Winchester Colbert on July 14, 1865.
In 1866 a treaty with the United States signed jointly by the Chickasaw and the Choctaw re-established the governments of both nations. A new constitution was adopted for the Chickasaw Nation in a convention held at Camp Harris in 1869, Cyrus Harris having been chosen governor in the elections held the preceding year. The four counties that had been organized by a resolution of the Chickasaw Senate in 1859 were continued under their old names: Panola, Tishomingo, Pontotoc, and Pickens.
The most important task in the reorganization of the government was the re-opening of the schools in the nation, all having been closed since the beginning of the ware. The interest on the Chickasaw national fund and a special annuity for schools, payment of which had been suspended by the federal government during the war along with all other compensation, were re-established by the treaty of 1866, the total paid over to the Chickasaw treasury for the fiscal year of 1866-67 amounting to $65,735.98. From 1867 on, a large part of this income was used to maintain the public school system, twelve neighborhood schools being in operation by 1869. Because of insufficient funds, the old Chickasaw academies, all of them in a bad state of repair, were not reopened as national boarding schools until after 1876. From that time each was supervised by a superintendent under contract with the Chickasaw school trustees, thus divorced from the work and interest of any church - in contract to the plan followed before the war.
With the opening of the neighborhood schools, sessions were held in the available buildings at the five academies and in log building erected for that purpose in the various communities. Teachers, some of them natives who had attended the national academies before the war, were paid three dollars a month for each pupil in attendance, the child to be furnished books and school supplies out of this sum, although a separate amount was allowed for fuel to heat the buildings. Children living over two and one-half miles from a school were each allowed $7.50 a month for boarding in the vicinity, a plan that soon developed into the novel system of payment of this sum direct to parts of every child of school age.
The care of the large number of orphans after the war was another problem, and some years later many of them were provided a home at old Burney Institute, henceforth known as the Chickasaw Orphan School, near the village of Lebanon in present Marshall County.
A special section devoted to "public education" in the constitution adopted in 1867 created the office of Superintendent of Public Instruction, the superintendent to be elected every four years by members of the legislature. The superintendent and the school trustees, one appointed for each school in the nation, were paid annual salaries commensurate with their duties. School expenses increased annually, the Chickasaw government disbursing large sums through the years in the maintenance of the educational system, with practically every Chickasaw personally interested and the best-paying teaching positions distributed through political patronage and favoritism.
After the end of the war, the Chickasaw was the first nation in Indian Territory to promote "the manufacture, refinement, and exporting of petroleum" in their county, under an act of their legislature in November, 1865, granting to the Petroleum and Railroad Company a charter which gave the directors or agents of the corporation the "rant to grant, convey and lease real estate." Since the Choctaw were the joint owners of the tribal domain, this clause made the act invalid, especially since the act itself had been passed before the treaty of 1866 was signed. In 1872, the Chickasaw Oil Company, by granting a franchise to a Missouri company for the development of petroleum, became the first Oil Company organized within the present state of Oklahoma. Since the franchise involved the leasing of tribal lands-rights to which were not clarified and approved by the Secretary of the Interior for many years-no development was undertaken by this first company. A half-century later, however, the lands named in this franchise were a part of the Fitts oil field near Ada, Oklahoma. Oil springs in the Chickasaw district west of Good Spring, later Tishomingo, had attracted attention before 1854.
Travel to Texas through the Indian Territory called for the building of bridges across the larger streams by a number of enterprising Chickasaw, who secured the privilege of operating them as toll bridges from their legislature. With the growth of ranching in the Indian Territory and Texas, cattle raising became the leading industry among the Chickasaw, many prominent mixed-blood families establishing ranch headquarters in the western part of the nation, where their herds fed on the open range on the prairies and in the valleys of the Washita and the Canadian rivers.
The thirty-eighty article of the treaty of 1866 established white persons who married among the Chickasaw as full citizens of the nation, with all rights and privileges and protection under the Chickasaw laws. Since extraordinary opportunities were apparent in this country, many white men married and settled among the Chickasaw, for after the construction of the Missouri, Kansas and Texas Railway (M.K. and T.) through eastern Indian Territory in 1872, the white population increased from year to year in the towns and the adjacent countryside. In the struggle for political supremacy, the conservative Chickasaw, mostly full floods with a few mixed-blood leaders, made up the National party, the member of which viewed conditions with misgivings and were opposed to any innovation in their land holdings and to any more railroad building through the nation. Most of the mixed blood of the old well-to-do families, some enterprising full bloods, and the intermarried whites made up the Progressive Party, whose membership steadily increased.
When railroad building was begun again following the Congressional act of 1886, the matter of granting a charter to the Gulf, Colorado and Santa Fe Railway for a right-of-way and contracts for timer and stone for construction purposes in the western part of the Chickasaw Nation gave rise to bitter political strife. The legislature refused to make any provisions in railroad matters, thus handicapping Governor William M. Guy in his official duties, even though it had chosen him governor at the beginning of the session. He had been the Progressive candidate in the campaign for that office in 1886, but, when none of the three candidates in the field received a majority of votes cast, the selection of the governor had devolved upon the legislature. Upon the order of the Secretary of the Interior, Governor Guy personally made contracts with the Santa Fe for necessary construction materials in building its road. When the company paid for these materials, the legislature refused to accept the money in behalf of the nation.
The campaign in 1888 was the most bitter in Chickasaw history, partisan feeling running high on the rights of citizens by blood and on the collection of a high cattle tax that was unfavorable to the white people (non-citizens) who had poured into the country along the new Santa Fe railroad. Governor Guy was re-elected to his position as the Progressive candidate, but the legislature threw out some of the votes in the Guy precincts and declared William l. Byrd, the National party candidate, the new governor. When armed conflict threatened under the leadership of Senator Sam Paul, there was a recount of the votes, and the Speaker of the House declared Governor Guy re-elected. But the Governor failed in his attempt to convene the legislature, for there was not a quorum present. Shortly after, Byrd quietly called his supporters together in a legislative session and carried on the government. He was later sustained in this step by the Secretary of the Interior.
Governor Byrd's administration succeeded in securing legislation in 1889, which disfranchised the intermarried white citizens in the nation. The primary purpose of this legislation was to protect the citizens by blood in their land and property rights; hits effect was the annihilation of the Progressive Party. In the campaign of 1890, only the votes of citizens by blood were counted, and Governor Byrd was re-elected by an overwhelming vote, over the Progressive candidate, Sam Paul. Partisan feeling during these years led to personal feuds that resulted in more than one murder in the Chickasaw Nation. In the early eighteen nineties, the troubled among the Chickasaw were cited in relating the need of laws to protect the non-citizens in the nation, and undoubtedly strengthened the demand of the thousands of white people who had some to live in the towns along the Santa Fe for Congressional action to disband the Chickasaw government along with other Indian governments in the Indian Territory. After the Dawes Commission began its work with that end in view, Chickasaw affairs were closely identified with those of the Choctaw, and their tribal interests usually lined up on the conservative side in the steps that culminated in the organization of Oklahoma in 1907.
In proportion to their numbers among the Five Civilized Tribes, the Chickasaw have probably more influence and prominence in their home communities and in Oklahoma than any other of these tribes. They included the late Charles D. Carter who served for twenty years as congressman from the Third District of Oklahoma; Earl Welch, justice of Oklahoma Supreme Court, Reford Bond, member of the Corporation Commission, and the late Homer Paul, state senator from Pauls Valley. A descent of the love family in the Chickasaw Nation, Mrs. Jessie R. Moore, has served as clerk of the Oklahoma Supreme Court (1928-32), the only Oklahoma woman honored with statewide election of this office (1928-32). The late Alice Hearrell Murray, the wife of former Governor William H. Murray, was proud of her Chickasaw lineage. The governor of Oklahoma elected in 1950 was Johnston Murray, son of former Governor and Mrs. Murray. Among young women of Chickasaw descent nationally known in the entertainment dramatic field are Te Ata (Mary Thompson) of New York, Ataloa (Mary Stone of Los Angeles, Laurie Douglas (Douglas Johnston Smith) of New York and Hollywood, and Mobley Lushanys (opera star) of Chicago.
Government and Organization.The offices of governor and national attorney to represent the interests of the Chickasaw in property held jointly with the Choctaw have been continued under provisions of the congressional act of April 26, 1906. The governor of the Chickasaw in 1951 was Floyd E. Maytubby, o Oklahoma City, who was appointed to the position by President Franklin D. Roosevelt in October 1939. The Chickasaw Tribal Protective Association, organized at the old capitol building at Tishomingo on November 11, 1929, has continued to meet at irregular intervals upon call of the governor or the association secretary, serving in lieu of an advisory council and giving the Chickasaw assembled an opportunity to express their desires in matters of tribal interest that remain under the supervision of the Five Civilized Tribes Agency at Muskogee.
When the governments of the Five Tribes were dissolved in 1906, the incumbent governor of the Chickasaw, Douglas H. Johnston, continued in this office. Governor Johnston held the same position until his death, with the distinction of serving longer than any executive of an Indian nation serves in the history of Oklahoma.
The constitution of the Chickasaw Nation provided that the governor should be elected every two years to hold office until his successor was qualified, but not to hold the same office "for more than four years in any term of six years." The governors of the Chickasaw Nation and their terms of office were Cyrus Harris, 1856-58; Dougherty (or Winchester) Colbert, 1858-60; Cyrus Harris, 1860-62; Dougherty Colbert, 1862-66; (Horace Pratt, acing governor 1864, and Jackson Kemp, governor pro tem, 1866); Cyrus Harris, 1866-70; W. P. Brown, 1870-71; Thomas J. Parker, 1871-72; Cyrus Harris, 1872-74; B. F. Overton, 1874-78; B. C. Burney, 1878-80-; B. F. Overton 188-84; Hickeyubbee, acting governor, 1881); Jonas Wolf, 1884-86; William M. Guy, 1886-88; William L. Byrd, 1888-92; Jonas Wolf, 1892-94 (T. A. McClure, acting governor, June to October 1894); Palmer S. Moseley, 1894-96; Robert M. Harris, 1896-98; Douglas H. Johnston, 1898-1902; Palmer S. Mosley, 1902-1904; DouglasH. Johnston, 1904-1906. In the last tribal election in 1906, Peter Maytubby, well-known leader and legislator, was elected governor, through he did not serve in this position, for Congress, on April 26, 1906, provided for the continuance of the "present tribal governments" and Governor Douglas H. Johnston continued in office.
The Chickasaw had no written laws before their settlement in the Indian Territory. A form of written constitution was reported to have been adopted by them in 1846, but the document has not been discovered in the historical records. The first formal constitution, titled "Constitution of the Chickasaws," which is in manuscript, was adopted at Boiling Springs in 1848, and another was adopted in 1851 "by the Chickasaw people at Post Oak Grove" (present Emet in Johnston County). The Chickasaw Council, serving as a legislative body, met annually, its members elected by the people. The chief and a Supreme Court judge were elected by the council every two years.
Though Ishtehotopa was the "king" of the Chickasaw until his death in the late eighteen forties, the treaty of Doaksville was signed by the Chickasaw chief, George Colbert, who served as such until his death in 1939. Under provisions of this treaty, Chickasaw district chiefs were elected, but were not always in regular attendance at the annual sessions of the Choctaw General Council. The following men served as Chickasaw chief from 1844 to the establishment of their nation under a separate government: Isaac Alberson, 1844-46; James McLaughlin, 1846-48; Edmund Pickens, 1848-50; Doughterty Colbert, 1850-56, who signed his name over the title "financial chief" after about 1852. Cyrus Harris served as acting chief in 1851, and Jackson Frazier served as Chickasaw district chief in 1855.
Contemporary Life and Culture. The Chickasaw have exerted marked influence on and have achieved recognition in the development of Oklahoma. Many of them are successful in the professions and business, and are serving in positions of trust in state and county administrations. Since the latter part of the eighteenth century, the majority of the members of the tribe have been a mixed white and Indian descent. The highest percentage of inter-marriage with other Indian tribes has been with the Choctaw. In reporting Indian tribal census records in 1919, the Office of Indian Affairs gave 5,659 Chickasaw by blood, 645 intermarried whites, and 4,652 Chickasaw freedmen (former Negro slaves and their descendants). Although there were a large number of former slaves in their midst after the Civil War, the Chickasaw never granted the Negroes rights of citizenship in the nation.
While Christian church denominations had the loyal support of many Chickasaw members, the work and influence of mission churches and schools were never predominant in the nation, especially after the Civil Ware. However, all the Chickasaw are Christianized and the majority are church members today. Their children attend the public schools. Underprivileged children from families with a high percentage of Chickasaw blood attend Indian schools, including Carter Seminary at Ardmore, Jones Academy for boys in Pittsburg County and Goodland Indian Orphanage in Choctaw County. Carter Seminary is the former Bloomfield Academy, which was opened in 1852 near Achille in present Bryan County.
The ancient Chickasaw clans and social organization in general were broken up with the removal to the Indian Territory, and few families know their clan relationship today. The tribe was formerly divided into three associations. The highest or first was a dual division, called the Koi and the ishpanee, the "kings being chosen from the latter, each division having different interest and religious ceremonials. The two were subdivided into a number of totemic groups or clans having animal names, Wildcat, Deer, and so on. The third association consisted of a great number of local family or "house" groups, having "house names," such as Inchuka chaha ("tall house"), Inchuka ahli ('his own house"). Marriage was outside the clan, and descent was reckoned through the female line.
Ceremonials and Public Dances. Old tribal ceremonials and dances are only a matter of historical interest among the Chickasaw today. The Pishofa ceremony was a special tribal institution or practice in the cure of the sick. The family of the sick person called in the "doctor," who performed certain rights four times for three successive days, during which a fire was kept burning in the clean-swept yard a short distance in front of the door of the house, which nearly always faced the east. Special objects, usually wands painted different colors and decorated with ribbons or feathers at the top, were placed between the door and the fire and were said to be a great assistance to the "doctor" in effecting a cure. He also administered herbs from where he stood behind the patient, who was placed inside the house facing the door. Only the patient's kinfolk (house group) were allowed to attend the ceremonials, during which the men and women danced at night near the fire-the corn dance, the snake dance, the bean dance, and the bison dance. In the afternoon of the third day, all feasted on pishofa (boiled hominy and port), as they sat in two lines from the door of the house to the ceremonial fire, the men in one line facing the women in the other. To this day, pishofa is the national dish of the Chickasaw often served at "big" meetings, although the last Pishofa ceremony with its "doctor," ceremonial fire, and dances was held seventy-five years ago.
The Chickasaw are usually, represented in the pageantry of the American Indian Exposition at Anadarko by a "princess" selected from the Chickasaw girls.
This is from the book "A Guide to the Indian Tribes of Oklahoma. Arthur: Muriel H.Wright in 1951 and published by the University of Oklahoma Press.
Muriel H. Wright was the granddaughter of Allen Wright, principal chief of the Choctaw from 1866 to 1870, who gave the state of Oklahoma its name. Educated in various Indian mission schools, with special study at Wheaton Seminary and Barnard College, she was eminently qualified to present this guide to Indians of Oklahoma.