The Choctaw were descendants of the Mississippian culture and Hopewellian people, who lived throughout the east of the Mississippi River valley and its tributaries. The early Spanish explorers of the 16th century encountered their ancestors. In the 19th century, the Choctaw were known as one of the "Five Civilized Tribes" because they adopted and integrated numerous cultural and technological practices of their European American colonial neighbors. The Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma and the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians are the two primary Choctaw associations today, although smaller Choctaw groups are located in Alabama, Louisiana, and Texas.
During the American Revolution, most Choctaw supported the Thirteen Colonies' bid for independence from the British Crown. The Choctaw and the United States agreed to nine treaties. The last three treaties (Treaty of Doak's Stand, Washington City, and Dancing Rabbit) were designed to deracinate most Choctaw west of the Mississippi River.
U.S. President Andrew Jackson made the Choctaw exile a model of Indian removal making them the first Native Americans to travel on the Trail of Tears. The Choctaw were exiled (to the area now called Oklahoma) because the U.S. desired to expand territory available for settlement to European Americans, wanted to save them from extinction, and wanted to acquire their natural resources.
With ratification in 1831 of the Treaty of Dancing Rabbit Creek, those Choctaws who chose to stay in the newly formed state of Mississippi were the first major non-European ethnic group to become U.S. citizens. Article 22 sought to put a Choctaw representative in the U.S. House of Representatives. The Choctaw began to seek political representation in the Congress of the United States in 1830. During the Great Irish Famine (1845 - 1849) nearly twenty years prior to the founding of the Red Cross, the Choctaw were noted for their generosity in providing humanitarian relief for the people of Ireland. During the American Civil War, the Choctaw in both Oklahoma and Mississippi mostly sided with the Confederate States of America.
After the Civil War, the Mississippi Choctaw fell into obscurity. The Choctaw in Oklahoma struggled to maintain a nation. In World War I, they served in the U.S. military as the first Native American codetalkers, using the Choctaw language as a natural code.