For hundreds of years before Europeans came to the United States, the Choctaw Nation was a tribe of farmers who lived in what is now the southeastern U.S. until the federal government forcibly removed most tribal members in 1830 to Southeastern Oklahoma in what became known as the “Trail of Tears.” Tribal members have overcome adversity to grow to nearly 200,000 strong, the country’s third largest tribe. The tribe’s growing business enterprises have allowed it to work to improve the lives of tribal members who have a rich tradition of serving in the military (see Code Talkers) serving their community and the State of Oklahoma.
The last 30 years has seen a resurgence in efforts to preserve and strengthen the Choctaw Nation’s culture and heritage. Language programs to learn Choctaw are provided from elementary school through college as well as on-line programs for adults. Historical games like stickball and traditional native dances are taught to the young. A registry of Choctaw artists who have preserved traditional skills like beadwork, making baskets, gourds and pipes and wood sculptures, to list a few, is maintained by the tribe.