The Chickasaw Tribe


Years ago, the United States was made up of many different nations—Apache, Sioux, Cherokee, Shoshone, and more. Native Americans inhabited much of North America. Some survived in the freezing temperatures of the Arctic, while others preferred the jungles of Peru. In the humid southeastern reaches of the United States--near today’s Kentucky, Missouri, Arkansas, Tennessee, Mississippi, and Alabama--the Chickasaw natives made their home.

The Chickasaw tribe was fearless; they were extremely brave and locally deemed as the “Unconquered”. This people group survived by teamwork; some villagers were farmers, while others were fishers or hunter-gatherers. Once settled in villages, these people mostly lived an agrarian lifestyle. 


Trade was important for the Chickasaw people. They had trading relationships with all of the Southeastern tribes. The Choctaws were their closest trading partner. Years before the Chickasaw people came into existence, these two groups were of the same tribe. 

For trade, travel was important. The Chickasaw lived near the Mississippi River, so water travel was a large part of their lifestyle. Dug-out canoes were made for river travel. For land travel, Dogs were used as pack animals.

The homes of the Chickasaw evolved over the years. At first, they created homes made of earth and grass. The Chickasaw lived somewhat nomadic lifestyles, so they built houses called Chickees along lowlands and riverbanks. These homes were built on stilts with covered thatched roofs and open walls. A platform was built somewhat off the ground for living space. As the people settled down, Wattle and Daub houses filled their villages. These were constructed with a frame made of river-cane, wood, and vines. The frame was then coated with plaster, and the roof was made of thatched grass or bark shingles. 

The Chickasaw people consumed an omnivorous diet. Women grew corn, beans, sunflowers, and squash as crops. Wild fruits, nuts, and herbs were also gathered. Men hunted deer, wild turkeys, small game, and fish. Dishes included cornbread, soups, and stews. Sassafras tea was a popular drink with the tribe. 

These natives were efficient with their clothing. Deer was a useful creature for the Chickasaw. Buckskin made up the majority of their clothing. Men wore breechcloths and high deerskin boots, while women wore long dresses. Well-known men had tattoos of their accomplishments.

The Chickasaw were known for their river-cane baskets. They also created fascinating woodcarvings, mulberry-bark textiles, and pottery. Later in time, the Chickasaw people became interested in Native American beading.

These Native Americans were tough, so they had plenty of weapons. They relied mostly on the bow and arrow, but other weapons made up their military.  These included knives, clubs, axes, and maces. Europeans later introduced muskets and rifles to the Chickasaw. Skilled and unexpected war tactics gave the Chickasaw people advantages in battles. 

The Chickasaw natives lived in their world of peace until Hernando De Soto encountered them for the first time in 1542. After that, the Chickasaw became entangled in affairs with settling Europeans. The Chickasaw fought with Britain against France in the Seven Years War, only to be relocated with The Indian Removal Act of 1830. The Chickasaw people sadly embarked on the Trail of Tears to resettle in Oklahoma, where many live today.