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Chickasaw Nation
Seal of the Chickasaw Nation
Seal of the Chickasaw nation
Total population
Regions with significant populations
United States United States (Oklahoma Oklahoma)
English, Chickasaw language
Traditional tribal religion, Protestantism (Baptist, Methodist)
Related ethnic groups

The Chickasaw Nation is a federally recognized Native American nation, located in Oklahoma. They are one of the members of the Five Civilized Tribes. The Chickasaw Nation was created after the Chickasaw people were peacefully removed by the US federal government to Indian Territory in the 1830s. Their removal was part of a larger effort by the federal government to relocate Native American peoples from the eastern side of the Mississippi River; in the Southeast, these were the Cherokee, Muscogee (Creek), Seminole, Chickasaw, and Choctaw nations. The removals became known as the "Trail of Tears".

Economic development

The tribe owns two off-track wagering facilities, 18 casinos, two bingo halls, 18 tribal smoke shops, seven motor fuel outlets, and two truck stops. They also own and operate Bedré Fine Chocolate in Davis, Lazer Zone Family Fun Center in Ada; WinStar Inn and Suites and Golf Course in Thackerville; Solara Healthcare in Westlake, Texas; Chickasaw Nation Industries in Norman, Oklahoma; Global Gaming Solutions, LLC; KADA (AM), KADA-FM, KCNP, KTLS, KXFC, and KYKC radio stations in Ada; and Treasure Valley Inn and Suites in Davis. Their estimated annual tribal economic impact is over $13.9 billion. In addition, the Chickasaw Nation operates historical sites and museums including the Chickasaw Cultural Center, Chickasaw Nation Capitols, and Kullihoma Grounds.

Their casinos include Ada Gaming Center, Chisholm Trail Casino, Gold Mountain Casino, Newcastle Casino, Riverwind Casino, Treasure Valley Casino, SaltCreek Casino, and WinStar World Casino. They also own Lone Star Park in Grand Prairie, Texas and Remington Park Casino in Oklahoma City.


Hernando de Soto is credited as being the first European to contact the Chickasaw, during his travels of 1540. He discovered them to have an agrarian society with a sophisticated governmental system, complete with their own laws and religion. They lived in towns.

In 1797, a general appraisal of the tribe and its territorial bounds was made by Abraham Bishop of New Haven, who wrote:

The Chickasaws are a nation of Indians who inhabit the country on the east side of the Mississippi, on the head branches of the Tombeckbe (sic), Mobille (sic) and Yazoo rivers. Their country is an extensive plain, tolerably well watered from springs, and a pretty good soil. They have seven towns, and their number of fighting men is estimated at 575.

The Chickasaw remained in their homelands of western Tennessee and northern Mississippi until the 1830s. After decades of increasing pressure to cede their land from the Federal and state governments, the Chickasaw finally agreed to cede their remaining Mississippi Homeland in the Treaty of Pontotoc Creek and relocate west to Indian Territory.

Chickasaw Nation map
Map of Chickasaw Nation, 1891

During Indian removal of the 1830s, the United States government first assigned the Chickasaw to a part of Indian Territory west of the Mississippi River controlled by the Choctaw Nation; their area in the western area of the nation was called the Chickasaw District. It consisted of Panola, Wichita, Caddo, and Perry counties.

Although originally the western boundary of the Choctaw Nation extended to the 100th meridian, virtually no Chickasaw lived west of the Cross Timbers, due to continual raiding by the Plains Indians of the southern region. The United States eventually leased the area between the 100th and 98th meridians for the use of the Plains tribes. The area was referred to as the "Leased District".".

The division of the Choctaw Nation was ratified by the Choctaw–Chickasaw Treaty of 1854. The Chickasaw constitution establishing the nation as separate from the Choctaws, was signed August 30, 1856, in the new capitol of Tishomingo (now Tishomingo, Oklahoma). The first Chickasaw governor was Cyrus Harris. The nation consisted of five divisions; Tishomingo County, Pontotoc County, Pickens County, and Ponola County. Law enforcement was by the Chickasaw Lighthorsemen, although non-Indians fell under the jurisdiction of the Federal court at Fort Smith.

Following the Civil War, the United States forced the Chickasaw into new peace treaties because of the support of many of the Five Civilized Tribes for the Confederacy. Under the new treaty, the Chickasaw (and Choctaw) ceded the "Leased District" to the United States. In 1868, the Chickasaw Montford T. Johnson, with Jesse Chisholm's help, secured an agreement with the Plains tribes to establish a ranch on the new western edge of the Nation. His ranch was never raided, although often threatened. He and his family remained the only permanent residents of the area until the settlement of Oklahoma after it was admitted as a state.

Under the Dawes Act, the Chickasaw nation was dissolved, with government functions transferred to the federal government before statehood, by agreement negotiated with the Dawes Commission. Following the breakup of the nation, the Chickasaw became citizens of the United States. The US allotted the communal land in plots for individual households of registered members. Land left over was declared "surplus" and made available for sale to non-Indians, so they lost much of their tribal lands.

In the second half of the 20th century, the Chickasaw reorganized their tribal government. They adopted a new constitution on August 27, 1983 to manage their business affairs.

Notable Chickasaw Nation citizens

  • Bill Anoatubby, Governor of the Chickasaw Nation since 1987
  • Jack Brisco and Gerry Brisco, pro-wrestling tag team
  • Jeff Carpenter, Recording artist and co-founder of the native american music group Injunuity
  • Edwin Carewe (1883–1940), movie actor and director
  • Charles David Carter, Democratic U. S. Congressman from Oklahoma
  • Travis Childers, U.S. Congressman from Mississippi
  • Tom Cole, Republican US Congressman from Oklahoma
  • Hiawatha Estes, architect
  • Cyrus Harris, first Governor of the Chickasaw nation
  • John Herrington, astronaut; first enrolled Native American to travel in space
  • Linda Hogan, author, writer-in-residence of the Chickasaw Nation
  • Overton James, Governor of the Chickasaw Nation (1963-1987)
  • Douglas H. Johnston, Governor of Chickasaw Nation 1898-1902 and 1904-1939
  • Neal McCaleb, civil engineer and politician
  • Bryce Petty, quarterback for the New York Jets.
  • Eula Pearl Carter Scott, at one time the youngest pilot in the United States; later one of the Chickasaw Nation’s first community health representatives and later elected to the Chickasaw legislature where she served three terms
  • Jerod Impichchaachaaha' Tate, composer and pianist
  • Mary Frances Thompson, also known as Te Ata Fisher, storyteller and actress
  • Fred Waite (1853 - 1895), politician representative, senator, Speaker of the House and Attorney General of Chickasaw Nation
  • Estelle Chisholm Ward, first woman to represent tribal interests to Washington, D.C.
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