Native Americans for Kids
The Chickasaw Indians originally lived in the Southeast in areas of Mississippi, Alabama, Tennessee, and Kentucky. In 1832 they migrated to Oklahoma after being forced to sell their land to the United States government. The Chickasaw were known as some of the fiercest warriors in all of the Americas and earned the nickname as the "Spartans of the Lower Mississippi Valley."
According to the Chickasaw migration story, the Chickasaw and the Choctaw were once a single tribe. They were led by two brothers, Chickasaw and Choctaw. The group set out to find a new home and fresh hunting grounds. At one point in their journey they split up. Part of the group wanted to stay with Choctaw, they became the Choctaw tribe. The rest of the group continued traveling with Chickasaw. They settled in northern Mississippi and became the Chickasaw tribe.
What kind of homes did the Chickasaw live in?
The original Chickasaw Indians lived in small villages. Their homes were one room wattle and daub homes made with a wood frame covered with a plaster of mud and straw. Typically the homes would be laid out in an oval with the center of village being the main meeting place. They also enjoyed a form of the game lacrosse called stickball and most villages had a stickball field.
What language did they speak?
The Chickasaw spoke their own language. It is very similar to the language of the Choctaw and is part of the Muskogean group of languages.
What was their clothing like?
The clothing of the Chickasaw people was made by the women. They used animal skins and hides to make deerskin breechcloths and shirts for the men. The women wore skirts and dresses.
The men generally shaved most of their hair, but left a long lock of hair at the very top of their head called a scalp lock. The women wore their hair up on their head using strings of beads.
What type of food did they eat?
The Chickasaw were both farmers and hunters. They farmed the three main crops grown by many Native Americans including corn, beans, and squash. They also hunted game like deer and fished in the lakes and rivers.
Government and Chief
The Chickasaw had a fairly democratic government. They called their chief the minko. Each clan was led by a minko and a council of elders. The minko then reported into the high minko that led the entire Chickasaw nation. The second in command was the war chief.
Trail of Tears
When the United States passed the Indian Removal Act of 1830, the Chickasaw were forced to relocate to Indian Territory in Oklahoma. Other Indian nations from the southeast were also required to relocate including the Cherokee, Creek, Seminole, and Choctaw. The path they traveled has become known as the Trail of Tears.
Interesting Facts about the Chickasaw Tribe
- The Chickasaw were considered one of the Five Civilized Tribes along with the Cherokee, Choctaw, Creek, and Seminole.
- They joined the French and Indian war on the side of the British and the Civil War on the side of the Confederacy.
- The first European to meet the Chickasaw Indians was Hernando de Soto in 1540.
- The last great war chief of the Chickasaw was Tishomingo. He died on the Trail from Tears of smallpox.
- The name Oklahoma comes from the Chickasaw and Choctaw phrase "okla humma" which means "red people."
- The first Native American in space was astronaut John Herrington of the Chickasaw Nation.
Take a ten question quiz at the Chickasaw Tribe questions page.
For more Native American history:
Native Americans for Kids