How’s everybody doing today? I’m good.

I didn’t spray them, but how about the Chickasaw Nation? Today, I want to talk to you about the interactions between the British and the Americans and their impacts on the Chickasaw, leading up to treaties and removal. So let’s get started.

The forces that led to Indian Removal in the nineteenth century can be said to have started with the arrival of Europeans in North America. Federal and Indian policy began in earnest with Thomas Jefferson after the Louisiana Purchase in 1803. Between then and 1820, the push for the removal of southeastern tribes, including the Chickasaw, gained momentum. This momentum continued with the Indian Removal Act, followed by the forced relocation of the Cherokee, Creek, Seminole, Choctaw, and finally the Chickasaw.

Today, I’ll speak about aspects of English and American contact and the impacts leading up to and during removal. Prior to the Revolutionary War, the Chickasaw enjoyed unusually peaceful times, thanks to the removal of the French, who had instigated continuous warfare for over 60 years. Peace was made with the Choctaw and northern Indians during the French and Indian War, and the Chickasaw strongly supported the English.

The Chickasaw allied with other southern tribes to support the British as barriers against the American Revolution. This map shows the four major settlements of the Chickasaw: Big Town in the north, Long Town in the central part, Little Canoe to the south, and Yaneka further south. James Colbert, the father of the famous mixed-blood chiefs William, George, and Levi Colbert, instigated significant Chickasaw participation in the war by raising parties along the Mississippi, Tennessee, and Ohio rivers. They intercepted vessels and fired upon boats descending from Illinois and trading with Pensacola.

In 1781, following the surrender of General Cornwallis to George Washington at the Battle of Yorktown, the Chickasaw found themselves negotiating with the Spanish, who had taken over New Orleans from the French, and the Americans for protection and trade. This division among the tribe was between those who wanted to trade with the Spanish and those who preferred to work with the Americans.

Piomingo, also known as Mountain Leader, understood early on that European powers other than the English would not hold much for the tribe. He leaned towards the Americans as settlers began encroaching on tribal land. By 1780, Piomingo vigorously opposed any land cession.

In the fall of 1785, the American government wished to negotiate with the southeastern tribes on land values and trade. The conference was held at the Hopewell plantation by Andrew Pickens, a Revolutionary War hero, and lasted from late 1785 to January 10, 1786, resulting in the Treaty of Hopewell. The treaty included Chickasaw boundaries with the Americans and the Choctaw, and gave the Americans exclusive rights to regulate trade within the nation. However, the Chickasaw were still trading with the Spanish, creating internal conflict.

The Treaty of Hopewell marked the beginning of peaceful relations with the United States, aiming to preserve these relations. Despite disagreements and backlash from other tribes, it was seen as a step toward integrating with the Americans.

Chickasaw settlement patterns began to change in the 1790s with American interests in ending the village lifestyle and civilizing the Indians. This was supported by the establishment of the Indian Agency in 1801 near the Natchez Trace. The Americans aimed to move the tribe toward farming and livestock, away from their traditional subsistence methods.

Major John Doughty noted in 1797 that the Chickasaw had become more sedentary, with less hunting and more farming, owning horses, slaves, cattle, and plantations. This shift led to the establishment of new communities and plantations, such as Colbert’s Ferry on the Natchez Trace.

In March 1799, the Chickasaw and Choctaw agent Samuel Mitchell reported that the Mississippi Territory governor advised the Indians to settle separately or in small villages and turn their minds to agriculture. Prominent figures like George Colbert promoted this transition, which eventually led to more substantial farms and plantations.

By the early 1800s, American encroachment increased, leading to disputes over land. The Chickasaw owed significant debts to trading houses and individual traders, amounting to over $50,000. This financial strain led to treaties like the one in 1805, where the Chickasaw ceded large tracts of land north of the Tennessee River for $20,000, which barely covered their debts.

Settlers continued to encroach on Chickasaw lands, leading to violent crimes and conflicts. By 1816, the Chickasaw were adamant about removing intruders, but American authorities took no steps to assist, leading to further tensions.

In September 1816, the Chickasaw entered into another treaty, relinquishing more land in Tennessee and Alabama for $12,000 per year for 12 years. Despite these treaties, the Chickasaw continued to face pressure to cede more land.

In 1818, a conference held at George Colbert’s home resulted in the Jackson Purchase, where the Chickasaw ceded all remaining land in Tennessee and Kentucky for $20,000 annually for 15 years. This treaty also attempted to regulate non-Indian traders, but enforcement was minimal.

Despite multiple treaties, the Chickasaw retained most of West Tennessee and a small section of Kentucky until 1832. The Chickasaw maintained a significant population and established new farms and plantations, generating substantial profit.

Missionaries entered the Chickasaw Nation in the early 1800s, with varying degrees of success. Education efforts were often limited, with few children attending schools. However, some leaders, like James Robertson, established schools without government permission.

The Indian Removal Act of 1830 and subsequent pressure led to the final negotiations for the Chickasaw to cede their remaining homeland. The Treaty of Pontotoc in 1832 was controversial, with many objections and issues, leading to a supplemental treaty in 1834. By 1834, the U.S. land offices had surveyed all Chickasaw lands, and the Chickasaw Commission oversaw land sales and payments.

In 1837, the Chickasaw entered into an agreement with the Choctaw to move to lands west of the Mississippi River, retaining their autonomy but living within the Choctaw Nation. This agreement included a $530,000 payment to the Choctaw.

The Chickasaw removal began in 1837, with groups traveling by steamboat and overland routes. The journey was fraught with difficulties, including scarce resources, disease, and theft. Despite these challenges, the Chickasaw managed to retain some control over their removal process.

By 1838, most of the Chickasaw had left their ancestral lands for Indian Territory, with removal continuing sporadically until 1850. The Chickasaw maintained their identity and independence, establishing a strong tribal government in their new home.

Despite the hardships of removal, the Chickasaw persevered and adapted, becoming a unified and resilient community in Indian Territory. Their cooperative strategy and strong leadership helped them navigate the challenges of displacement and build a new future.

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Brady Davis – 2013 TOTA Conference

How’s everybody doing today? I’m good. I didn’t spray them, but how about the Chickasaw Nation? Today, I want to talk to you about the interactions between the British and the Americans and their impacts on the Chickasaw, leading up to treaties and removal. So let’s get started. The forces

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