I see some people over here from last night. Pop quiz this morning, but I gave that [Music]. We have a little short session, a short session yesterday. We’ve got today. I can’t imagine a session like this lasting for 50 minutes, or at least someone calling for 50 minutes. So, what I’d like to do is to get through my script here and then open it up for questions and answers if we have time to do that.

During the talk, if you have a question that comes to your mind, you might want to ask it right then instead of saving it until the end, but you run the risk of running out of time. So, I always encourage people to ask questions when they occur to them. I don’t mind being interrupted or you holding up your hands to ask me questions.

I suppose that I was asked to talk about Chickasaw removal because Amanda Paige and Fuller Bumpers and I did that book a couple of years ago on Chickasaw removal. Much of the research for that was done a full decade ago. They decided that they wanted to have careers and went their way, and it took us that long to get the manuscript to the press. So, it was good for me to review some of this material again and see what I could learn about Chickasaw removal.

Let me start with some background on the Chickasaw removal. Chickasaw removal lasted from 1837 to 1850. The federal government officially ended removal early on, but the Chickasaw Nation did not stop its removal policy until 1850. It may have lasted longer than that. The last removal group that we know of came out in that period. About 8,000 Chickasaws and slaves moved during that time. Many slaves came with later groups, trying to stay in Mississippi to continue farming after Chickasaw removal.

Now, think about the timing here. The main removal of the Chickasaws happened between 1837 and 1839. Put that in the context of Creek removal and Cherokee removal: the Creeks were removed in 1836-1837, the Cherokees started moving seriously in 1837, but the main removal was 1838-1839. So, Chickasaw removal happened between Creek removal and Cherokee removal, but it wasn’t anything like the other two. When we finished the research on Chickasaw removal, Amanda and Fuller said, “What do you want to do with this research?” The last step in the process is dissemination. They said they wanted to write a book on Chickasaw removal and why it was different. It was their project, and I just assisted. That’s why my name is last on that book.

The Chickasaw move was different from the others for three major reasons: they were the first tribe to sign a removal treaty after the Indian Removal Act of 1830, they paid for their own removal, and they were remarkably unified as a tribe during the removal period. There was no internal division despite what some stories say.

Let’s talk about the treaty negotiations first. Andrew Jackson has been vilified by more than one writer, and some have tried to rehabilitate him. All agree he was basically a rat, but he inherited the removal issue, which began with Jefferson’s administration and the Compact of 1802 with Georgia. This compact stipulated that Georgia would give up its interest in Mississippi and Alabama if the federal government removed the tribes from within its boundaries.

Tension grew over this issue through successive administrations, reaching a peak with James Monroe, who asked for the Removal Act but did not get it. John Quincy Adams, less enthusiastic about Indian Removal, almost called out federal troops to put down Georgia’s insistence on states’ rights over Indian affairs. This tension reached Andrew Jackson, whose main platform included the removal of the tribes. By the time he took office, Georgia, Alabama, and Mississippi had passed laws extending their jurisdiction over the tribes within their boundaries.

Jackson had a lot of pressure from these southern states and his constituencies to push for a removal bill. The passage of the Indian Removal Act was a tight vote, indicating how divided the country and Congress were on this issue. Jackson wanted to protect the Union and avoid bringing the country to the brink of open warfare, as Adams had almost done.

This impacted Chickasaw removal significantly. All the tribes in the South had constant problems with American intruders on their land, despite treaty provisions promising removal of these intruders. When the Chickasaws asked for troops to remove the intruders, the federal government said no, fearing that Americans inside Chickasaw boundaries would fight the army.

Levi Colbert, a main leader in the Chickasaw Nation, understood the Chickasaws’ position on states’ rights. He wrote to Jackson, stating that the Chickasaws agreed to sell their land to “put down that bitter question of state sovereignty, to keep peace with the white family, to preserve the Union whose friendship and protection the Chickasaw wanted.”

Jackson saw the United States as vulnerable to foreign invasion, particularly from the Gulf area. He wanted to secure the Lower Mississippi Valley and populate the southern states along the Gulf with Americans, as he didn’t trust the Indians. This drove his push for Indian removal as much as anything else.

People often ask why Jackson didn’t just militarily round up the Indians and move them west. The moral high ground in the debate over Indian removal was held by the anti-removal people, who argued that moving the Indians would violate treaties with the United States. Jackson’s solution was to make more treaties to get the tribes to agree to remove. Jackson couldn’t have moved the Indians by force even if he wanted to; the US Army was weak at that time, causing problems throughout the removal process.

The most humane officials involved in removal were the Regular Army officers, not the state militia. The atrocities associated with Cherokee removal were carried out by state militia, not the Regular Army.

Jackson began negotiating treaties with the tribes, starting with the Chickasaws. His administration negotiated over 70 agreements and treaties with various tribes east of the Mississippi, including removal and land session provisions.

Jackson’s negotiators were instructed to promise everything and give nothing, playing to the avarice of tribal leaders. They thought they had their man in Levi Colbert, who had previously accepted generous land grants. However, during the negotiation of the Chickasaw removal treaties, Colbert refused these reservations.

The Chickasaws signed the Treaty of Pontotoc Creek in October 1832, which they considered their removal treaty. There were amendments in 1834, and by 1837, they signed the Treaty of Doaksville with the Choctaws, agreeing to move west and occupy the western district of the Choctaw Nation.

The Treaty of Pontotoc allowed the Chickasaws to delay removal for seven years. Unlike other tribes, the Chickasaws paid for their own removal. The government allotted land to each Chickasaw household, and when they sold the land, the money went into a Chickasaw fund held in trust by the government. However, it was difficult for Chickasaw individuals to get their money back once it was in government hands.

Despite problems with accessing their money, the fact that they paid for their own removal gave the Chickasaws certain powers. They did not want removal agents with disbursing authority and wanted everything handled by disbursing officers in Memphis and Little Rock. This arrangement led to issues, such as when an officer embezzled Chickasaw money to establish the State Bank of Arkansas.

Another reason Chickasaw removal was different was their unity. They did not have the internal factions seen in other tribes. They had no meddling missionaries, and their traditional government structures remained strong. They created a Chickasaw Commission in 1834 to negotiate with the federal government, which became the de facto government until 1845.

The Chickasaws paid $30 plus a per diem for each person to remove to the west, a policy that continued until 1850. This demonstrated their unity and love for their people. Chickasaw removal, though fraught with challenges, was marked by a high degree of independence and self-determination.

Thank you very much.

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Dr. Daniel Littlefield – Chickisaw Removal

I see some people over here from last night. Pop quiz this morning, but I gave that [Music]. We have a little short session, a short session yesterday. We’ve got today. I can’t imagine a session like this lasting for 50 minutes, or at least someone calling for 50 minutes.

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