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Choctaw Resurgence in Mississippi

Race, Class, and Nation Building in the Jim Crow South, 1830-1977

Katherine M. B. Osburn

Publication Year: 2014

When the Choctaws were removed from their Mississippi homeland to Indian Territory in 1830, several thousand remained behind, planning to take advantage of Article 14 in the removal treaty, which promised that any Choctaws who wished to remain in Mississippi could apply for allotments of land. When the remaining Choctaws applied for their allotments, however, the government reneged, and the Choctaws were left dispossessed and impoverished. Thus begins the history of the Mississippi Choctaws as a distinct people.


Despite overwhelming poverty and significant racial prejudice in the rural South, the Mississippi Choctaws managed, over the course of a century and a half, to maintain their ethnic identity, persuade the Office of Indian Affairs to provide them with services and lands, create a functioning tribal government, and establish a prosperous and stable reservation economy. The Choctaws’ struggle against segregation in the 1950s and 1960s is an overlooked story of the civil rights movement, and this study of white supremacist support for Choctaw tribalism considerably complicates our understanding of southern history. Choctaw Resurgence in Mississippi traces the Choctaw’s remarkable tribal rebirth, attributing it to their sustained political and social activism.



Published by: University of Nebraska Press


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Title Page, Copyright, Dedication

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pp. i-v


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p. vii

List of Illustrations

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p. viii

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Series Preface

Theda Perdue, Michael D. Green

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p. ix

At the beginning of the twenty-first century, we often use the word “miracle” to describe the Mississippi Choctaws. Examining their history before the “miracle,” Katherine M. B. Osburn reveals that the achievements of these people do not really constitute a miracle. Refusing to...

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pp. xi-xiv

My interest in the Mississippi Choctaws began about a decade ago when Theda Perdue asked me about my second book. I told her that I did not yet have a project and she suggested this one. “But Theda,” I replied, “I’ll have to learn the entire field of southern history in order...

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pp. 1-8

In the summer of 2004, my husband, Charlie, and I visited the reservation of the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians in Philadelphia, Mississippi, to meet with the director of research, Creda Stewart. Ms. Stewart graciously suggested several sources for research and then remembered...

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1. From the First Removal to the Second, 1830–1898

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pp. 9-35

In 1830 agents of the United States government convinced the Choctaw Nation to sign a removal treaty by inserting a provision, Article 14, allowing some Choctaws to stay behind on allotments of land as citizens of Mississippi. The federal government failed to follow through, however,...

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2. From the Second Removal to Recognition, 1898–1918

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pp. 36-56

Having only recently rebuilt their communities, the Mississippi Choctaws again faced removal in 1898 when the federal government moved to allot the Choctaw Nation in Indian Territory. Because of Article 14, Choctaws remaining in Mississippi were also entitled to land, but...

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3. Establishment of the Agency, 1918–1930

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pp. 57-75

Finally winning the 1918 appropriation was a triumph of political organizing, but it was only the first step toward tribal rebirth. Congress had recognized the Choctaws as Indians who deserved government land and services. Within two years, however, the U.S. Supreme Court proclaimed...

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4. The Choctaw Agency and the Patronage Economy, 1918–1930

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pp. 76-101

Evaluation of the role the Choctaw Agency played in rural Mississippi sheds light on the context in which the Choctaws negotiated their survival and reveals the multiple perspectives of class, race, and power Choctaws engaged as they sought autonomy. The Choctaw Agency was...

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5. The Depression and the Indian New Deal, 1929–1945

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pp. 102-130

The Great Depression and the New Deal brought significant challenges to the Choctaws. Economic collapse accentuated the importance of federal funds for all Mississippians. Yet discord over administration of those resources aggravated long- standing class conflicts in Neshoba...

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6. The Choctaw Tribal Council, 1945–1965

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pp. 131-158

The creation of the Tribal Council in 1945 marked the Mississippi Choctaws’ official political rebirth, but it did not create an autonomous government. Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) paternalism frustrated the council’s attempts to administer their shared resources in ways congruent...

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7. Termination, Segregation, and Choctaw NationBuilding, 1951–1964

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pp. 159-179

Paradoxically, the Mississippi Choctaws constructed a tribal government just as federal Indian policy had shifted toward a program called termination. World War II had drained funds from the Indian Service, and Cold War ideology condemned Indian reservations as enclaves...

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8. Relocation, Resistance, and Civil Rights, 1951–1964

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pp. 180-202

Termination went hand in hand with the relocation program, an effort of the Indian Service to move Indians from isolated reservations to urban areas where employment opportunities were allegedly greater.1 Government officials believed that relocation was the best solution...

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Epilogue and Conclusions. Choctaw Juridical Status and Self- Determination, 1964–1977

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pp. 203-213

Following the opening of the high school, the Mississippi Choctaws inaugurated a series of initiatives that ultimately brought about the Choctaw Miracle. Working within pan-Indian networks and with allies in the Mississippi congressional delegation, tribal leaders instituted...

List of Abbreviations

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p. 215


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pp. 217-285


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pp. 287-305


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pp. 307-322

Series Page

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pp. 323-325

E-ISBN-13: 9780803273887
E-ISBN-10: 0803273886
Print-ISBN-13: 9780803240445

Page Count: 336
Publication Year: 2014

OCLC Number: 880940130
MUSE Marc Record: Download for Choctaw Resurgence in Mississippi

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • Choctaw Indians -- Mississippi -- History.
  • Choctaw Indians -- Mississippi -- Goverment relations.
  • Choctaw Indians -- Civil rights -- Mississippi.
  • Self-determination, National -- Mississippi.
  • Mississippi -- Race relations.
  • Mississippi -- Politics and government.
  • Mississippi -- Social conditions.
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