The Choctaw Nation was one of the Native American nations along with the

The choctaw nation was one of the native american

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and participation in the American Civil War by the Choctaw Nation is often overlooked. The Choctaw Nation was one of the Native American nations, along with the Cherokee, Chickasaw, Creek (Muskogee), and Seminole, called the “Five Civilized Tribes.” The five nations acquired this appellation because they had accepted so much of so-called western civilization: both virtues and flaws. Examples for the Choctaw included popularly elected representatives, a bicameral legislature, a written constitution, advanced agricultural growth, and public education. In this process of acculturation the civilized trait most often neglected that distinguished the “Five Civilized Tribes” from many other Indian nations was the holding of Africans and African Americans as slaves. The ratio of slaveholding among the Choctaws was significantly lower than that among whites in neighboring Arkansas and Texas. Consequently, slave holding by the Choctaws may have had less impact on the construction of the Choctaw Nation than on some states in the South. Nevertheless, the subject of slaveholding and its
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2 significance warrants investigation and interpretation. 1 The institution of slavery among Native Americans has received only cursory attention by historians of the Choctaws and virtually no attention by historians of slavery in the Americas. This fact is somewhat explicable in that source material for traditional studies of slavery is far less prominent among the Native Americans. However, ignoring an element as critical as slaveholding to the development of 19 th century “civilized tribes” adversely affects comprehension of the cultural evolution of Native Americans. Specifically with the Choctaws, historian Greg O’Brien recently referred to “the Choctaws adoption of racial slavery” and “intercultural relations in the South” as “neglected topics.” Currently, more books exist devoted solely to the sports and play of the Choctaws than to slaveholding practices. This is not universally the case with all Native American tribes as African slaveholding among the Cherokee has received reasonable attention from historians. 2 Examination of the scholarship on Indian slaveholding, as well as American slaveholding, is necessary in order to classify slaveholding among the Choctaws. Two differing studies on Cherokee slaveholding are Red over Black: Black Slavery among Cherokee Indians by Robert J. Halliburton, Jr. and Slavery and the Evolution of Cherokee Society 1540-1866 by Theda Perdue. Some mention of Choctaw slavery appears briefly in The Choctaws in Oklahoma: From Tribe to Nation, 1855-1970 by Clara Sue Kidwell, an article entitled “Negro Slaves among the Five Civilized Tribes” by Michael F. Duran in The Cultural Transformation of a Native American Family and its Tribe 1763-1995 by Joel Spring, and Living in the Land of 1 John D. W. Guice, Face to Face in Mississippi Territory, 1789-1817 . In The Choctaw before Removal, ed. Carolyn Keller Reeves (Jackson: University Press of Mississippi, 1985), 158; Randolph B. Campbell, An Empire For Slavery: The Peculiar Institution in Texas 1821-1865
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  • Spring '18
  • History, Slavery in the United States, Choctaw

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