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English, Choctaw

Protestantism, traditional beliefs

Chickasaw, Muscogee (Creek), and later Seminole

The Choctaw (alternatively spelt as Chahta, Chactas, Chato, Tchakta, Chocktaw, and Chactaw) are a Native American people originally from the Southeastern United States (Mississippi, Florida, Alabama, and Louisiana). The Choctaw language belongs to the Muskogean linguistic group. Noted 20th century anthropologist John Swanton suggested that the name was derived from a Choctaw leader.[2] Henry Halbert, a historian, suggests that their name is derived from the Choctaw phrase Hacha hatak (river people).[3]

The Choctaw were descendants of the Mississippian culture and Hopewellian people, who lived throughout the east of the Mississippi River valley and its tributaries. The early Spanish explorers of the 16th century encountered their ancestors.[4] In the 19th century, the Choctaw were known as one of the "Five Civilized Tribes" because they adopted and integrated numerous cultural and technological practices of their European American colonial neighbors. The Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma and the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians are the two primary Choctaw associations today, although smaller Choctaw groups are located in Alabama, Louisiana, and Texas.

During the American Revolution, most Choctaw supported the Thirteen Colonies' bid for independence from the British Crown. The Choctaw and the United States agreed to nine treaties. The last three treaties (Treaty of Doak's Stand, Washington City, and Dancing Rabbit) were designed to deracinate most Choctaw west of the Mississippi River.

U.S. President Andrew Jackson made the Choctaw exile a model of Indian removal making them the first Native Americans to travel on the Trail of Tears. The Choctaw were exiled (to the area now called Oklahoma) because the U.S. desired to expand territory available for settlement to European Americans,[5] wanted to save them from extinction,[6] and wanted to acquire their natural resources.[7]

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