The Choctaw Indians are a group of Native Americans who originally lived in what is now Mississippi, Louisiana, and Alabama. As they came into contact with whites, they became known for their willingness to adapt to more modern lifestyles. One important aspect of their traditional culture was the game of stickball, which the Choctaw invented. It was originally a very rough and physical sport. Indian tribes often used it as a method of settling disputes with neighbors rather than going to war.
The most famous Choctaw was a chief named Pushmataha. During his lifetime, he was influential by encouraging peace between his people and the whites. He was well-liked by both groups. A talented negotiator, Pushmataha helped form many of the treaties for the Choctaw with the U.S. Government. He also fought on the American side in the War of 1812. Pushmataha died in 1824.
In 1830, the Choctaws signed the Treaty of Dancing Rabbit Creek. This essentially gave the United States 11 million acres of Choctaw land in Mississippi in exchange for 15 million acres in Oklahoma. At the time, Oklahoma was considered Indian Territory and was not a state. The Choctaw people had the choice of moving to the new land or remaining where they were and becoming U.S. Citizens. Removal of the Choctaw Indians from their homeland took place over the next few years. They were the first group of Native Americans to be moved on the Trail of Tears. Those who remained in Mississippi were harassed by both settlers and law enforcement for many decades.
During the World Wars, the military employed a number of Choctaw men as radio operators or "code talkers". They were able to transmit secure messages this way. Enemies didn't know their language and couldn't decipher it. Although Native Americans had been treated poorly by the government in many instances, Choctaws tended to be supportive of the war efforts and eager to help.