Choctaw Nation: 3rd Largest Native American Tribe in US - Essay Sample

Paper Type:  Essay
Pages:  8
Wordcount:  1962 Words
Date:  2023-03-25


The Choctaw Nation is officially referred to as the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma in the modern days. It is sort of an organization that has been recognized by the government of the United States as a native American tribe having been assigned a tribal jurisdiction and a reservation for the people to stay in over eight counties of the counties in Southeastern Oklahoma. The tribal jurisdiction is also comprised of twelve tribal districts.

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The tribe is the third largest recognized in the United States, with a well-developed relationship between the federal government of the United States and the local government of Oklahoma. The tribe was born out of the Choctaw Republic just before the existence of the Oklahoma statehood in the Indian Territory. A good number of people from the tribe live in the state of Oklahoma and others in the Choctaw nation jurisdiction.

The tribe is ruled by a chief. The headquarters of the tribe, which at the same time house the office of the head, are in Durant. The judicial department of the tribe is also found in Durant. The Choctaw Nation is among the three recognized Choctaw tribes by the national government (Akers, 2004). the other two are Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians and the Jena Band of the Choctaw Indians that are located in Louisiana.

The other two other tribes have been established to have also been the descendants of Choctaw, but they had ended up to resist being relocated to the Indian Territory. For instance, the Mississippi Choctaw has been known to have stored their culture in much smaller communities where they later reorganized themselves as a tribal government in the 1940s with new laws.

The Choctaw Nation traces its ancestry to Mississippi, a small part of Alabama. According to the tribe's archives, it has been established that the people of Choctaw came from the sacred hill of Noxapter in Mississippi in a place known as Nanih Waya, which means the "productive mound."

Among the five great tribes of the South that were removed from the Indian Territory (Oklahoma) in 1830, the Choctaw was the first one to move out. It is estimated that over twenty thousand people from the tribe embarked on a very long trek, which was known by the name "The Trail of Tears," with the majority of the individuals failing to survive during the horrific ordeal.

On reaching their current place, the Choctaw had to adjust quickly to the environment, which was composed of three Oklahoma districts. However, the early missionaries paid a significant role in influencing their moral codes and behavior during their settlement (Kilpinen, 2004). As such, the Nation also adopted a religion that was foreign together with its doctrines. A completely new system was also established in the community.

The tribe also adopted a new constitution and a legal system that did not take into account the racial experiences. Agricultural and commercial practices that were believed to conform to the complex economic system were also brought to the community. As such, it took a short period for the Choctaws to come up with their related systems, such as education and government system, to run for their own.

Economic Lifestyle of the Choctaw Nation

Agricultural Practices

There have been significant changes that have economically occurred to the tribe over time as much as they have been slow in coming. Initially, most of the Choctaws supported themselves through farming. However, there are a few members that worked for the Bureau of Indian Affairs. Besides, they also engaged in hunting and gathering in the forests to support their livelihood. In the 19th and 20th centuries, men, women, and children used to do agricultural practices, which was mainly planting crops on the river floodplains on which they lived (Spring, 2012). It was mostly for domestic consumption, with a few swampy crops being grown.

The Choctaw used to hold the whole land in common as a community. However, there reached a time when an individual could claim a part of the same as long as they were fully responsible for cultivating it without causing any interference with the parts that had already been claimed by other members of the community. When a piece of land that had been acquired by a single person was abandoned, the control of the same part could be reverted to the management of the tribe.

Hunting and Gathering

The Choctaws used to hunt animals in the forests. The hunting was reserved for the men and young boys, while a gathering of fruits and vegetables was the role for the women and young ladies. The men used to hunt for the bears and deer. They also killed birds like turkeys that they never kept as a domestic animal, which they do now for meat. They also used to go fishing, where they caught trout and shrimps. The fish, along with the bear, used to ear them raw and fresh, or at times they could dry them for preservation and future use.

For the boys and young men, hunting was done using a blowgun or an uski thompa. It was a hollow piece of swamp cane through which sharp darts are blown through. Animals are then killed instantly. Some men and boys used rabbit sticks. The hunting was usually composed of a group of individuals of eight to ten people. Together they could flush out the rabbits after which they could beat them on their heads.

In gathering, the Choctaw people gathered berries and wild edible fruits. The fruits could be eaten fresh and raw. However, grapes and crabapples were dried and preserved for future consumption. In the 19th and part of the 20th century, the primary crops for the community were squash and corn. They were also accomplished farmers of maize and beans. Corn was preferred because it could be preserved for an extended period. Corn was also used in their most common dishes. Choctaws also harvested acorns. These were brown nuts that had been shelled immediately. They began falling from trees. Sweet acorns that were collected from oaks could be eaten raw.

Despite the above, the arrival of the Europeans greatly influenced their economic activities in the sense that they introduced new vegetables, cattle, horses, and cotton. Hunting was also intensified where there was a high demand for skins, particularly those of deer. As such, hunting tremendously expanded, accompanied by trade. When the deer population began to decline, agricultural activities were increased.

In the 19th and 20th centuries, the rural Choctaw had substantially adopted subsistence farming where hunting, gathering, and agricultural activities could only satisfy the domestic demand. However, with the adoption of western civilization, they began planting cotton as a cash crop from which they sold to European companies. Agriculture was also sharecropped with cotton and also supplemented with forestry.

In the late 20th century, the Choctaws that live in the neighborhood of the Mississippi were able to establish tribal industries that were mostly based on construction companies and electronics (Burrage & Burrage, 2013). In respect to the population of the community, the Choctaws lacked the land to establish economic enterprises where they resolved to venture in employment, especially in forestry, in seasonal wage work, and to some extent, they receive assistance from the government.

Industrial Arts

Just like any other community in the 19th century, the Choctaws were involved in making of pots and associated pottery products, the carving of wood, stones, making of baskets, and textile weaving. From the above arts, basket making has been perpetuated up to recent times; however, with a declining number of craftspeople that are skilled and knowledgeable. It has been as a result of constantly reducing markets. When it comes to textiles, art has also remained important where unique clothes are made for special events in the community.


Choctaw people practiced barter trade like any other tribe before civilization was brought in by the Europeans from the west. Since most of them were farmers, they used to exchange goods. There was then the competition for the trade of deerskins and guns in the 19th century. Consequently, after the abolition of the slave trade in most of the countries in the world and a reduction in deer, there was a need for a more decent trade. Therefore, there was the expansion of a more peaceful business that was centered on agricultural products and cattle.

When the Europeans came in, the Choctaws used to sell their artifacts such as the pots and baskets to make some money. The tribe has a complex that is made up of a fishing plant, a shopping center, an operational health center, and a traveling agency. Additionally, the tribe has a newspaper that it produces on behalf of its people. All the above under the control of its tribal government, it makes it the largest employer of its people more than any other organization in the region.

In comparison to the 20th century, the beginning of the 21st century saw an improvement in the tribe's economy courtesy of the efforts that had been channeled by its management. Initially, the Mississippi Choctaw had been living in extreme poverty courtesy of the poor economic activities that they practiced. Some of them, despite the increasing population and technology, they had to old economic activities of earning them income and improving their living standards.

However, when the tribe intensified its economic activities in the early 21st century, the tribe and some of its individuals ended up to own a lot of businesses, and they were even ranked among the top ten most significant employers in Oklahoma state. Not only did they operate the casinos and bingo games, but they also embraced the establishment of manufacturing industries in the region.

The businesses and industries operated on reservations, which meant that they did not pay taxes. As such, the tribe continued to invest more in businesses. The above, coupled with increased creation of employment, the income of families rose in comparison to the previous years, coupled with a reduction in the unemployment rate.


When the Europeans came, the Choctaw lost most of their land that they had acquired from the government. Many of the people went to work in the timber and mining industries that had been started by the Europeans. The above was, however, counteracted by the government in the 1950s. It set up various vocational training programs and centers in Mississippi, an area that was mostly occupied by the community to aid in preparing them for the tasks in the mainstream job market of the continually growing industries courtesy of the European settlers. There was the development of companies like the Chata Development Company that was established by the Choctaw council to aid in the creation of jobs for the Choctaw people that lived in Mississippi.


For the Choctaw that lives in Oklahoma, they have also incorporated and adjusted to the system in the sense that they have opened bingo parlors in places like Arrowhead, Pocola, Idabel, and Durant. The gaming business has proven to be successful with the fact that it has played a significant role, especially of attracting tourists in the place. In addition to the above, the tribe has ventured into a hotel and restaurant business that has even spread to Canada.

Fishing industries have also been set the tribe owns that. The profits and the revenues that are collected from the businesses are channeled to the programs for Choctaw assistance. As such, tourism and the gaming industries in the community have been established to be significant contributors to the revenues collected, especially in the late 20th century and the 21st century (Cornell, 2001).

The most significant economic gains have been witnessed to be among the greatest economic contributors to the Choctaw tribes in high stakes that are placed on bingo ga...

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Choctaw Nation: 3rd Largest Native American Tribe in US - Essay Sample. (2023, Mar 25). Retrieved from

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