End of the Loess Hills Indians

After 1776, when the United States came into existence, a small number of Chickasaw Indians managed to survive in our northern Loess Hills. When Kentucky was admitted into the Union in 1792, Tennessee in 1796, and Mississippi in 1817, it became clear that the Chickasaw could not hold out for long, for such a semi-independent, self-governing Indian nation comprised a state within other states. Questions of jurisdiction, taxation, land titles, and legal existence were not likely to be settled in favor of Indians.

Despite gross injustices committed against the Chickasaws, the Indians displayed astonishing loyalty to the United States. During the war of 1812 they generally disregarded Tecumseh's appeal to join in an Indian uprising against the United States. Chickasaw braves even served in General Andrew Jackson's army against the British, often as scouts and messengers.

By 1818, land cession treaties had stripped the Chickasaws of all land in the loess zone; they retained only small parcels in northeastern Mississippi and northwestern Alabama.

In the National Archives there is a report by a federal agent (the report is called Allen to Eaton) dated February 7, 1830, describing the Chickasaws' current condition. The buffalo and bear were gone, and not enough deer remained for the Indians to depend on. "... They have large herds of cattle, swine, sheep and goats, and poultry of every description... Cotton, beef and pork are the principle articles for exportation."

From the proceeds of farm produce and livestock, the Chickasaws purchased "necessaries and luxuries of life" as well as slaves, sugar, coffee and "dry goods to render them comfortable and ornament their persons. The time has come when they no longer depend upon the rifle for support, but it is used more for their recreation and amusement than for the means of sustenance. Every family cultivates the earth more or less as his thirst for gain, or his imaginary or real wants increase... For the last eight years, the practice of the men requiring the women to perform all the labor in the field is much changed -- the men now (with few exceptions) cultivate the earth themselves, while the female part of the family is engaged in their household affairs. They spin, weave and make their own clothing."

In 1831 the Treaty of Pontotoc forced the Chickasaw Nation to evacuate what was left of its original homeland whenever suitable land was found in the area known as Indian Territory in the frontier west. For several years Chickasaw leaders went looking for a new homeland. Once land was found, the removal of the remaining Chickasaws took several years.

The removal took place in small groups of from fifty to 150 Indians. Scattered Chickasaw families were still moving from Mississippi to Indian Territory as late as 1850.

There's some fascinating reading of old documents at the Chickasaw Historical Research Page.

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