Built on the collective ideas and creativity of Chickasaws from all walks of life, this cultural center incorporates nature, history, heritage and lifeways to tell the ongoing story of the Chickasaw people. We invite you to join us as we celebrate the vision, resilience and spirit of the men, women and children of the Chickasaw Nation.
Governor Bill Anoatubby
The Chickasaw Nation
With sophisticated towns, advanced agricultural skills and strong leadership, the Chickasaws thrived in our vast Homeland. While predominately living an agrarian lifestyle, we also traded with other First American tribes, the French and the English through a network that spanned the North and South American continents. Chickasaw warriors were regarded as the “Spartans of the Lower Mississippi Valley” by early historians for their skills and perseverance in defending our lands. One example is how the Chickasaw disrupted French interests in connecting New France in the north with New Orleans in the South. In fact, some historians say that the United States is an English-speaking country because of the Chickasaws’ victory over the French in the battle for the lower Mississippi during the 1730s.
We were removed from our historic Homeland in present-day northern Mississippi, northwestern Alabama, western Tennessee and southwestern Kentucky to new lands in Indian Territory on a route we refer to as Removal. Cherokee, Muscogee, Choctaw and Seminole nations were also removed during the same time period. The Treaty with the United States, Choctaw and Chickasaw of 1837 (also known as Treaty of Doaksville) outlined that the Chickasaws were to establish a district within the Choctaw Nation. In 1855, we separated from the Choctaws and the following year formed our own, separate government and constitution in our own territory.
At Tishomingo, Indian Territory, our tribal leaders created a constitution and instituted executive, legislative and judicial departments of the government. Political leaders for each department were selected according to votes from a popular election. Chickasaws thrived in their new Homeland, building some of the original schools, businesses and banks in Indian Territory, until the Civil War. The war brought devastating effects to Indian Territory and the tribe had to rebuild what had been destroyed in the conflict. However, the 1887 Dawes Act and the 1898 Curtis Act weakened tribal structure by eliminating tribal courts, shortening time tribal legislatures could meet and turning communally-owned land into individual allotments.
After Oklahoma statehood in 1907, Chickasaw tribal elections were suspended and the U.S. president appointed a Chickasaw Governor to handle any remaining tribal affairs. The first appointed Chickasaw Governor was Douglas H. Johnston. Faithful to his people, Governor Douglas H. Johnston worked diligently to preserve our rights to self-determination and to help the Chickasaw people.
Congress passed Public Law 91-495 in 1970 that allowed the Chickasaw, Cherokee, Muscogee, Choctaw and Seminole tribes to elect their own principal officers. Since then, the Chickasaw Nation has created the current constitution and continues to grow and prosper. In 1971, after Congress restored the inherent right of the Chickasaw people to elect their own leaders, Overton James was elected as governor of the Chickasaw Nation.
To learn more about the Chickasaw Nation and our history, visit Chickasaw.net.