The origins of the Choctaw tribe are not specifically known. Some say the tribe descends from the Mississippian mound-builders. Others say that they came from somewhere in the west. What is known is that in the stories that have been passed down through generations, and combined with archeological evidence, the Choctaws descend from people who hunted prehistoric animals such as the mastodon, bison, caribou and mammoths.
When the British began settling along the east coast, they began making slaves of the Native Americans. This endeared the tribes to deal more with the French, who had begun explorations and settlements along the central parts of the country. The first documented contact between the French and the Choctaws was in 1699, although it is likely that contact between them occurred earlier. The Choctaws formed a relationship with New France.
During the American Revolution, the tribe was divided. Some chose to side with the British. Chief Franchimastabé led a group of warriors to Natchez to fight the American rebels. When he and his men arrived, the Americans had already left, but the Choctaw remained and saw that those in the area remained loyal to the British. However, other companies of Choctaw warriors joined Washington and fought with the Colonies. Many were assigned as scouts under Washington, Morgan, Wayne and Sullivan.
Over a thousand warriors fought for the British, primarily in their campaigns against Spain. However, many also fought against the British with Spain.
After the American Revolution, the Choctaws never raised their weapons against the United States. Individual warriors joined Tecumseh and the hostile Creek tribes but the leadership of the Choctaw tribes kept out of hostilities with the United States. Over the next few years, some of the Choctaw warriors served as scouts for the United States in assorted Indian Wars in the midwest.
President George Washington and Secretary of State Henry Knox implemented a policy based upon the tribal members being equal, but their society being inferior. Their 6-point policy included impartial justice toward Native Americans; regulated buying tribal lands; promoting commerce; civilizing tribal society; presidential authority to give presents; and punishing those who violated Indian rights. Agents were appointed to teach assorted tribes how to live like white settlers. The Choctaw embraced these practices, establishing schools, yeoman farming, converting to Christianity and building houses like their Colonial neighbors.
The Choctaw made treaties with the United States for trade. Then settlers began moving west. The Choctaw made several treaties selling their lands to the government in exchange for other lands in Indian Territory. The Treaty of Dancing Rabbit, in 1830, separated the Choctaw into two separate entities, The Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma and the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians. The Mississippi Band became United States citizens, subject to state and federal laws. The Nation retained its autonomy.
After the Treaty of Dancing Rabbit, the Mississippi Band was plagued with poverty and discrimination. In many instances, the Choctaw were treated lower than the slaves. In 1945, the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians had it's Constitution and By-Laws approved by the Department of the Interior. The Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma had four more treaties to settle differences between them and the Chickasaw tribe which had also relocated to Indian Territory. The Choctaw Nation's Constitution was ratified in 1984. Their present location is in 10 1/2 counties in southeastern Oklahoma.