"MISSISSIPPI" – the name itself is Choctaw and means "Father of Waters", referring to the largest river in North America, form Mississippi's western border. What many may not be aware of is just how many native peoples made their home here throughout Mississippi's history – and pre-history.
Up until and into the 1700s – when recordkeeping began – such tribes included the Acolapissa, Biloxi and Pascagoula tribes on the Gulf Coast; the Bayougoula, Houma and Natchez tribes on the lower Mississippi and the Chakchiuma, Ibitoupa, Koroa, Ofogoula, Taposa, Tiou, Tunica and Yazoo tribes on the Yazoo River in the Mississippi Delta. The Choctaw inhabited the east central part of the state, which the Chickasaw dwelled in the north and northeast. The Choctaw were the most populous by far and remain so to this day. The Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians, descendants of the Choctaws who refused to leave their homeland after the Treaty of Dancing Rabbit Creek, still live near Philadelphia, Mississippi. Choctaw is still the first language they learn in their home and while maintaining such proud tradition the Mississippi Choctaws stepped into the future with their own tribally-owned industries.
While these Indians, so named by Columbus who thought he had arrived in India rather than a "New World", depended upon agriculture for staple food like corn, beans and squash, they also grew pumpkins, watermelons and tobacco for ceremonial purposes. Some of their food was still secured by hunting and fishing.
After the coming of the white man, the Native American tribes were unfortunately destroyed or forcibly removed from their homelands. The Natchez tribe was nearly exterminated by the French in retaliation for the Natchez rebellion at Fort Rosalie in 1729. The smaller Yazoo tribe was also nearly annihilated by the French and their Indian allies, the Choctaw, for their part in the 1729 rebellion. Other tribes were less negatively affected by the colonial powers.
The Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians is Mississippi's premier source for information about Mississippi's deep cultural history. Their website features a wealth of information about a great many events and attractions, www.choctaw.org.