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Chickasaw Facts

Chickasaw Indian Facts

These Native Americans are a relatively small Indian tribe who settled in the Southeast U.S. after migrating from the west. This area included river banks and waterways throughout the states of Alabama, Mississippi, Tennessee, Missouri and Kentucky. The facts below will give you information and insight into who the Chickasaw are, what they are known for, where they lived, and how their daily lives were structured.

General Chickasaw Indian Facts

  • When translated, the word Chickasaw means rebel or rebellion. It's a fitting term as these Indians had many enemies. They were known for their warlike tendencies and constant fighting with both surrounding tribes and the French.
  • In 1830 during the presidency of President Andrew Jackson the Indian Removal Act became law. This resulted in the forced relocation of the Chickasaw to Oklahoma.
  • They ate a diet of vegetables consisting mainly of beans, corn and squash. They also enjoyed a variety of nuts, fruits, and herbs. Tribal men hunted deer, bear, turkey, and other wildlife. They often made food such as porridge and hominy and drinks such as sassafras tea.
  • Today, English is spoken by most Chickasaw people, however preservation of the language is very important to the Chickasaw and there are about 1000 people that still speak Chickasaw today, most of them elders. The language is described as easy on the ear and even musical sounding.
  • The tribe was known to use very specific and extreme forms of punishment such as execution, public whipping, beatings, hair cropping for women who participated in adultery, and even the use of dried snake teeth raked against the skin.
  • The Chickasaw tribe was named as one of the Five Civilized Tribes by white settlers. The Chickasaw, Choctaw, Cherokee, Creek and Seminole all most likely garnered this distinction because of their conversion to Christianity and their relatively advanced form of government. There tribes were not an alliance.
  • The Chickasaws were known for their beautifully colored baskets and containers. They would use natural resources such as sassafras root and sumac to make beautiful colored dyes for baskets and other arts and crafts. Also popular were woodcarvings and pottery, known for its dark clay color. When materials for these items became scarce after the move to Oklahoma, beadwork and bead jewelry gained in popularity.

Facts about Chickasaw Tribe Houses

  • The Chickasaw were a semi-nomadic tribe. Families lived in villages comprised of mini-complexes with more than one house per family and sometimes up to 200 families.
  • The winter house was the largest shelter and built to protect against the cold winters. The summer house was sectioned into two rooms with plenty of ventilation and raised beds to maximize space.
  • There was also a ball field, a council house, a fortified stockade for shelter against attacks, a corn or grain storage building and a ceremonial building.

Facts about Chickasaw Roles of Men and Women

  • Although Chickasaw society was matrilineal and women controlled their own land and raised crops, they also held traditional roles in the Chickasaw tribe. They tended to domestic life by cooking, cleaning and looking after children. Women also looked after slaves which were often obtained through war with other tribes. Young girls had the option of spending their day as they wished but often chose to help their mothers.
  • The men were fierce hunters and warriors favoring the use of bows and arrows. They would often travel great distances to hunt. Boys began training for warfare and hunting at a very young age.
  • Storytelling was an important way to pass down traditions and legends from one generation to the next and both sexes participated.
  • Both men and women enjoyed music, arts, and crafts.

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