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Pre-history preface by Pat Smith:
Pre history is speculative, and far from exact. Archaeologists and the scientific community now hold as conclusive that mankind first arrived in North America from Asia via Beringia, the Bering Strait Land Bridge, during the late Pleistocene Age, perhaps 50,000 BC. Generally, over many thousands of years, migration routes were influenced by receding glaciers of the Wisconsin Period, later driven by cultural expansion of dominant societies.
In the study if Native American Indians it is convenient to divide the Americas into geographical regions. Tribes within each region exhibit a significant number of cultural traits.
And so it is with the Mound Builders, the Adena and Hopewell cultures that lived 1,000 BC -700 AD, and ranged throughout the eastern woodlands of present day America and extended into the Great Plains. The Temple Mound Builders, or Mississippian culture, lived 700 AD-1500 AD and migrated to the vicinity of present day Mississippi, although one culture with numerous Mississippian traits, the Natchez Indians along the lower Mississippi River, lasted well into the 18th century. The Mississippian cultural influence ranged from the Gulf of Mexico to the Great Lakes to the Northern Great Plains to the foothills of the Rockies. The Temple Mound Builders were master farmers and had an elaborate trade network among themselves, and with other tribes. They had a complex social structure, and a rigid caste system. They built mounds not only for burial, like the Adenas and Hopewells, but also huge cerimonial, or temple mounds.
It is this Mississippian culture that migrated, under duress, to Oklahoma and Indian Territory in the 19th century. Spiro, in present day LeFlore county, was a center for the Mound Builder culture.
Ref: Atlas of the North American Indian, Carl Waldman/Molly Braun, 1985
Recent history as presented by the Choctaw Nation:
The Choctaw Indian Nation traces its ancestry to Mississippi and some sections of Alabama. Legends tell that the Choctaw People originated from "Ninah Waya", a sacred hill near Nozapter, Mississippi. The name "Ninah Waya" means "Productive Mountain" and is often referred to as "The Mother Mound". The "emergence myth" is a part of Choctaw history.
Culturally, the Choctaws have always honored their women as the head of every family household. They were, and still are today, considered the care-takers of our children, our elders, and the home.
In 1830, the Treaty of Dancing Rabbit Creek forcibly relocated the entire Choctaw nation from their homeland in Mississippi west to what is now known as Southeastern Oklahoma. Over twenty thousand Choctaws were moved on this long journey. Seven thousand survived this removal on what has come to be called "The Trail of Tears".
The Choctaw population has grown from the original seven thousand survivors to more than seventy thousand. The Choctaw People have overcome enormous obstacles in their quest for self-reliance in a changing and often hostile world.
During the 1970's, The elected Tribal Chief had the difficult task of re-establishing the sovereignty of the Choctaw Nation. Under the leadership of Chief Hollis Roberts and a progressive twelve elected Tribal Council Representatives, the Choctaw Nation has established a positive direction of Tribal Government to the benefit of the Choctaw People.
In 1975 the Chief wished to establish the Choctaw Nation administrative offices at the historic Presbyterian College building in Durant, Oklahoma. This building was originally established in 1894 as a school for Indian youths and was known as the Calvin Institute. Support for the school came from the Choctaw Nation and the Presbyterian Churches until it was closed in 1960 due to financial difficulties.
Reacquisition and renovation of the building allowed the centralization of the Choctaw Government which permits more effective Choctaw Government Administration. Guests are always welcome and tours are available by contacting the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma.
Chief Hollis Roberts and the Twelve Tribal Council Representatives meet at the historic Choctaw capitol Building located in Tuskahoma, Oklahoma. In September of 1884, construction of the Choctaw Nation's capitol was completed. The Choctaw capitol Building was the center of government for the Choctaw Nation until 1907. That year, the State of Oklahoma attempted to dissolve the Choctaw Nation Government and the Choctaw citizens were declared general citizens of the State of Oklahoma.
In 1977, a group of Choctaws petitioned the Federal court, asking that the 1860 Choctaw Constitution be legally declared the valid Constitution of the Choctaw Nation. the Choctaw people voted in 1979 for and adopted the document which would serve as a guide for the government and proposed constitution. In 1981 the Federal Courts did declare that the 1860 Choctaw Constitution was valid. The Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma operates under a written Constitutional form of Government ratified by the Choctaw people on July 9, 1983.
Today, the Choctaw Nation provides many services for the Choctaw people. Some of those services include:
The Historic Choctaw Capitol Building houses the Choctaw nation's National Museum and Judicial Department Court System. The Choctaw national Museum has a wide assortment of historic and cultural exhibits which include information and displays on the Choctaw Light Horsemen and the original Choctaw Code Talkers from World War I and World War II. I November 1989, France presented the highest honor that country can bestow, "knight of the National Order of Merit of France" to the Choctaw Code Talkers for their efforts in World War I.
The Light Horsemen were the Law Enforcement arm of the historic Choctaw Nation. Artifacts and history of these colorful Choctaw Lawmen is also displayed at the museum. Legends tell that on occasions, the spirit of the Light Horsemen may been seen riding across the Council Grounds and in their guard quarters in the Choctaw Capitol Building at Tuskahoma.
The Choctaw Capitol Building is one of the outstanding Historical markers for the Choctaw Nation and hosts the annual Choctaw Nation Labor Day Festival. One of the largest and most attractive events in Oklahoma today is the Annual Choctaw Labor Day Celebration. This event has become a continuing tradition among the Choctaw People, hosting thousands of visitors at the Historic Council House grounds. Traditional Cultural Activities, Annual Choctaw Princess Pageant, Traditional Foods, Arts and Crafts, Sporting games, camping, fishing, and musical entertainment are a few of the activities at the celebration. The festival includes many family reunions and features many celebrities, entertainers, Tribal leaders, Choctaw Tribal Council Representatives, and Chief Hollis Roberts who meets with the Choctaw people and greets the many welcome visitors from all over the world. One of the highlights of the event is Chief Hollis Roberts annual "State of the Nation Address" to the Choctaw people.
In December 1987, the Choctaw Nation opened the doors of their 28,000 square foot Choctaw Bingo Palace and became the first America Indian bingo hall to have a one million dollar winner. Profits from the Choctaw Bingo benefit the Choctaw people and have helped start many projects and services in the Choctaw Nation.
The Choctaw Travel Plaza opened in August 1989, and is located three miles south of Durant on Highway 69-75. It offers tourist, travelers and truckers fuel, food, gifts and customary Choctaw hospitality.
Arrowhead Lodge and Resort, located on beautiful Lake Eufaula, was purchased from the State of Oklahoma in march 1986. The Choctaw nation has renovated and remodeled Arrowhead Resort. it now boasts of continued growth, and a 2,000 seat convention center is presently under construction. Choctaw management has made Arrowhead Resort one of the more beautiful tourist attractions in Oklahoma. It is a favorite meeting place for numerous conventions and pow wows throughout the year. The resort offers spacious rooms, swimming, lake recreations, and has the tallest free standing fireplace in the world.
Historic Jones Academy was originally founded by the Choctaw Nation as a boarding school for boys. Located in Hartshorne, Oklahoma, it is under the direct supervision of the Choctaw Nation and has been the residential care center for school age Indian children since the 1800's. The Choctaw boarding school hosts an annual all Indian rodeo. Students and staff keep busy with programs and activities including the training and caring for registered Quarter Horses, youth athletics, arts and crafts, and cultural events throughout the year. Jones Academy students have been named finalists from over 350 contestants in the "National Take Pride in America Contest".
Traditionally, the Choctaw people have always had a sincere concern for all people. Visitors are always welcomed at any of the Choctaw Nation events and locations. Chief Hollis Roberts led "The Great Famine Walk in Ireland" for 1990. the walk commemorated the tragic death of some 600 starving men, women and children who perished in a single day and night of horror while crossing the Mayo Mountains in Ireland in search of food in 1847. Chief Roberts was asked to lead the first walk of the 90's in recognition of the generosity that the Choctaw Nation Tribe showed to the Irish during their darkest hour. In 1847, the Choctaw Nation sent those starving people of Ireland 710 American dollars to assist them. The money was donated by Tribal Council Representatives at the National Choctaw Council Meeting. When they heard of the deaths, they identified the tragedy with the Choctaw's own "Trail of Tears".
Choctaw Culture, Choctaw history, Choctaw traditions, Choctaw family recreations.....nothing better illustrates Indian friendship with the land better than the Choctaw lifestyles and cultures in Southeastern Oklahoma. As we look to the future, we are grateful to our forefathers for their endurance, pride and commitment they displayed in their struggles to preserve the Choctaw Culture, identity and existence. The modern Choctaw Nation is growing and expanding to socially and economically reach out on a national and international level. The changes have been many for the Choctaw People and the evolution of the Choctaw Nation has not been easy. But the Choctaw heritage, culture and traditions live on.
This page was last updated on 02/02/11
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