les Chickasaw

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Chickasaw

 

The Chickasaw are an indigenous people of the Southeastern Woodlands. Their traditional territory was in the Southeastern United States of Mississippi, Alabama, and Tennessee. They are of the Muskogean language family and are federally recognized as the Chickasaw Nation.

Sometime prior to the first European contact, the Chickasaw migrated from western regions and moved east of the Mississippi River, where they settled mostly in present-day northeast Mississippi. That is where they encountered European explorers and traders, having relationships with French, English and Spanish during the colonial years. The Chickasaw were considered by the United States (US) as one of the Five Civilized Tribes, as they adopted numerous practices of European Americans. Resisting European-American settlers encroaching on their territory, the Chickasaw were forced by the US to sell their country in 1832 and move to Indian Territory (Oklahoma) during the era of Indian Removal in the 1830s.

Most Chickasaw now live in Oklahoma. The Chickasaw Nation in Oklahoma is the 13th largest federally recognized tribe in the United States. Its members are related to the Choctaw and share a common history with them. The Chickasaw are divided in two groups (moieties): the Impsaktea and the Intcutwalipa. They traditionally had a matrilineal system, in which children were considered to be part of the mother's clan, where they gained their status. Some property was controlled by women, and also hereditary leadership among the tribe passed through the maternal line.

 

Etymology

The name Chickasaw, as noted by anthropologist John Swanton, belonged to a Chickasaw leader.  Chickasaw is the English spelling of Chikashsha (IPA: [tʃikaʃːa]), meaning "rebel" or "comes from Chicsa".

History

The origin of the Chickasaw is uncertain. Twentieth-century scholars, such as the archeologist Patricia Galloway, theorize that the Chickasaw and Choctaw coalesced as distinct peoples in the 17th century from the remains of Plaquemine culture and other groups whose ancestors had lived in the Lower Mississippi Valley for thousands of years.[3] When Europeans first encountered them, the Chickasaw were living in villages in what is now northeastern Mississippi; and some occupied areas of present-day South Carolina.

The Chickasaw may have been migrants to the area. Their oral history supports this, indicating they moved along with the Choctaw from west of the Mississippi River into present-day Mississippi in prehistoric times. This may be an extremely ancient account. The Mississippian culture and earlier moundbuilding cultures of the Woodland era had territory that ranged from the west side of the river in Arkansas to sites in present-day Louisiana and Mississippi, so both accounts may be reconciled. For instance, earlier Native American cultures built monumental mound complexes in northern Louisiana as early as 3500 BCE. The Mississippian culture was building earthwork constructions by 950 CE in complex, dense villages supporting a stratified society, with centers throughout the Mississippi and Ohio valleys and their tributaries.

Another version of the Chickasaw creation story is that they arose at Nanih Waiya, a great earthwork mound built about 300 CE by Woodland peoples. It is also sacred to the Choctaw, who have a similar story about it. The mound was built about 1400 years before the coalescence of each of these peoples as ethnic groups.

 
The second leg of the de Soto Expedition, from Apalachee to the Chicaza

The first European contact with the Chickasaw ancestors was in 1540 when the Spanish explorer Hernando De Soto encountered them and stayed in one of their towns, most likely near present-day Tupelo, Mississippi. After various disagreements, the American Indians attacked the De Soto expedition in a nighttime raid, nearly destroying it. The Spanish moved on quickly.

The Chickasaw began to trade with the British after the colony of Carolina was founded in 1670.With British-supplied guns, the Chickasaw raided their neighbors and enemies the Choctaw, capturing some members and selling them into Indian slavery to the British. When the Choctaw acquired guns from the French, power between the tribes became more equalized and the slave raids stopped.

Allied with the British, the Chickasaw were often at war with the French and the Choctaw in the 18th century, such as in the Battle of Ackia on May 26, 1736. Skirmishes continued until France ceded its claims to the region east of the Mississippi River after being defeated by the British in the Seven Years' War (called the French and Indian War in North America).

Following the American Revolutionary War, in 1793-94, Chickasaw fought as allies of the new United States under General Anthony Wayne against the Indians of the old Northwest Territory. The Shawnee and other Northwest Indians were defeated in the Battle of Fallen Timbers on August 20, 1794.

The noted 19th-century historian Horatio Cushman thought the Chickasaw, along with the Choctaw, may have had origins in present-day Mexico and migrated north.[4] That theory does not have consensus; archeological research, as noted above, has revealed the peoples had long histories in the Mississippi area and independently developed complex cultures.

Tribal Lands

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

United States relations

Sculpture of a stylized 18th-century Chickasaw warrior by Enoch Kelly Haney, at the Chickasaw Cultural Center in Oklahoma
 

George Washington (first U.S. President) and Henry Knox (first U.S. Secretary of War) proposed the cultural transformation of Native Americans. Washington believed that Native Americans were equals, but that their society was inferior. He formulated a policy to encourage the "civilizing" process, and Thomas Jefferson continued it. The historian Robert Remini wrote, "They presumed that once the Indians adopted the practice of private property, built homes, farmed, educated their children, and embraced Christianity, these Native Americans would win acceptance from white Americans." Washington's six-point plan included impartial justice toward Indians; regulated buying of Indian lands; promotion of commerce; promotion of experiments to civilize or improve Indian society; presidential authority to give presents; and punishing those who violated Indian rights. The government appointed Indian agents, such as Benjamin Hawkins, who became Superintendent of Indian Affairs for all the territory south of the Ohio River. He and other agents lived among the Indians to teach them, through example and instruction, how to live like whites. Hawkins married a Muscogee Creek woman and lived with her people for decades. In the 19th century, the Chickasaw increasingly adopted European-American practices, as they established schools, adopted yeoman farming practices, converted to Christianity, and built homes in styles like their European-American neighbors.

Treaty of Hopewell (1786)

 
A sketch of a Chickasaw by Bernard Romans, 1775
 

The Chickasaw signed the Treaty of Hopewell in 1786. Article 11 of that treaty states: "The hatchet shall be forever buried, and the peace given by the United States of America, and friendship re-established between the said States on the one part, and the Chickasaw nation on the other part, shall be universal, and the contracting parties shall use their utmost endeavors to maintain the peace given as aforesaid, and friendship re-established." Benjamin Hawkins attended this signing.

Treaty of 1818

In 1818, leaders of the Chickasaw signed a treaty ceding all claims to land north of the southern border of Tennessee. The Chickasaw were allowed to retain a four-square-mile reservation, but were required to lease the land to European immigrants.

Colbert legacy (19th century)

In the mid-18th century, a Scots trader by the name of James Logan Colbert settled in Chickasaw country and lived there for the next 40 years, where he married three high-ranking Chickasaw women in succession. Chickasaw chiefs and high-status women found such marriages of strategic benefit to the tribe, as it gave them advantages with traders over other groups. Colbert and his wives had numerous children, including seven sons: William, Jonathan, George, Levi, Samuel, Joseph, and Pittman (or James). Six survived to adulthood (Jonathan died young.)

The Chickasaw had a matrilineal system, in which children were considered born into the mother's clan; and they gained their status in the tribe from her family. Property and hereditary leadership passed through the maternal line, and the mother's eldest brother was the main male mentor of the children, especially of boys. Because of the status of their mothers, for nearly a century, the Colbert-Chickasaw sons and their descendants provided critical leadership during the tribe's greatest challenges. They had the advantage of growing up bilingual.

Of these six sons, William Colbert served with General Andrew Jackson during the Creek Wars of 1813-14. His brothers Levi and George Colbert also had military service in support of the United States. In addition, the two each served as interpreters and negotiators for chiefs of the tribe during the period of removal. Levi Colbert served as principal chief, which may have been a designation by the Americans, who did not understand the decentralized nature of the chiefs' council, based on the tribe reaching broad consensus for major decisions. An example is that more than 40 chiefs from the Chickasaw Council, representing clans and villages, signed a letter in November 1832 by Levi Colbert to President Andrew Jackson, complaining about treaty negotiations with his appointee General John Coffee. After Levi's death in 1834, his brother George Colbert succeeded him as chief and principal negotiator, because he also spoke English.

Removal era (1837)

 
Historic Marker in Marion, Arkansas for the Trail of Tears

Unlike other tribes who received land grants in exchange for ceding territory, the Chickasaw held out for financial compensation: they were to receive $3 million U.S. dollars from the United States for their lands east of the Mississippi River. In 1836 after a bitter five-year debate within the tribe, the Chickasaw had reached an agreement to purchase land in Indian Territory from the previously removed Choctaw. They paid the Choctaw $530,000 for the westernmost part of their land. The first group of Chickasaw moved in 1837. For nearly 30 years, the US did not pay the Chickasaw the $3 million it owed them for their historic territory in the Southeast.

The Chickasaw gathered at Memphis, Tennessee, on July 4, 1837, with all of their portable assets: belongings, livestock, and enslaved African Americans. Three thousand and one Chickasaw crossed the Mississippi River, following routes established by the Choctaw and Creek. During the journey, often called the Trail of Tears by all the Southeast tribes that had to make it, more than 500 Chickasaw died of dysentery and smallpox.

 
In the 1850s Holmes Colbert (Chickasaw) helped write the constitution of the nation in Indian Territory.
 

When the Chickasaw reached Indian Territory, the United States began to administer to them through the Choctaw Nation, and later merged them for administrative reasons. The Chickasaw wrote their own constitution in the 1850s, an effort contributed to by Holmes Colbert.

After several decades of mistrust between the two peoples, in the twentieth century, the Chickasaw re-established their independent government. They are federally recognized as the Chickasaw Nation. The government is headquartered in Ada, Oklahoma.

American Civil War (1861)

The Chickasaw Nation was the first of the Five Civilized Tribes to become allies of the Confederate States of America. In addition, they resented the United States government, which had forced them off their lands and failed to protect them against the Plains tribes in the West. In 1861, as tensions rose related to the sectional conflict, the US Army abandoned Fort Washita, leaving the Chickasaw Nation defenseless against the Plains tribes. Confederate officials recruited the American Indian tribes with suggestions of an Indian state if they were victorious in the Civil War.

The Chickasaw passed a resolution allying with the Confederacy, which was signed by Governor Cyrus Harris on May 25, 1861.

At the beginning of the American Civil War, Albert Pike was appointed as Confederate envoy to Native Americans. In this capacity he negotiated several treaties, including the Treaty with Choctaws and Chickasaws in July 1861. The treaty covered sixty-four terms, covering many subjects such as Choctaw and Chickasaw nation sovereignty, Confederate States of America citizenship possibilities, and an entitled delegate in the House of Representatives of the Confederate States of America.Because the Chickasaw sided with the Confederate States of America during the American Civil War, they had to forfeit some of their land afterward. In addition, the US renegotiated their treaty, insisting on their emancipation of slaves and offering citizenship to those who wanted to stay in the Chickasaw Nation. If they returned to the United States, they would have US citizenship

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Date de dernière mise à jour : 14/07/2014