The Choctaws in Oklahoma: From Tribe to Nation, 1855-1970 (American Indian Law and Policy)

The road from dispossessed people to successful nation was a long one, but for the Choctaws it has been worth the journey. This book examines how one tribe moved beyond setbacks to establish a powerful modern tribal government. …

The road from dispossessed people to successful nation was a long one, but for the Choctaws it has been worth the journey. This book examines how one tribe moved beyond setbacks to establish a powerful modern tribal government.

The Choctaws in Oklahoma begins with the Choctaws’ removal from Mississippi to Indian Territory in the 1830s and then traces the history of the tribe’s subsequent efforts to retain and expand its rights and to reassert tribal sovereignty in the late twentieth century. As Kidwell explains, Choctaws adapted to the very structures imposed on them by their colonizers : courts and laws. Tribal politicians quickly learned to use the rhetoric of dependency on the government, but they also demanded justice in the form of fulfillment of their treaty rights, and the Choctaw Nation confronted the government as a legal adversary to achieve its own ends. The Choctaws have adroitly negotiated with the United States and created the Choctaw Nation that exists today.

The Choctaws’ story illuminates a key point in contemporary scholarship on the history of American Indians : that they were not passive victims of colonization and did not assimilate quietly into American society. The Choctaws in Oklahoma illustrates one tribe’s remarkable success in asserting its sovereignty and establishing a national identity in the face of seemingly insurmountable legal obstacles.

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