Choctaws in a Revolutionary Age, 1750-1830

Choctaws in a Revolutionary Age, 1750-1830

Choctaws in a Revolutionary Age, 1750-1830

Choctaws in a Revolutionary Age, 1750-1830

Synopsis

This is the story of the Choctaws as told through the lives of two very different leaders, Taboca and Franchimastab¿, during a period a period of revolutionary change, 1750-1830. The careers of these leaders signal the receding of the traditional mystical world and the dawning of the market-oriented one.

Excerpt

In May 1820 a Choctaw man explained that “great changes had taken place among the Indians, even in his time.” He emphasized that the traditional Choctaw educational system had broken down. Formerly, children were “collected on the bank of the river” after ritual morning bathing “to learn the manners and customs of their ancestors, and hear the old men recite the traditions of their forefathers.” “They were assembled again, at sunset for the same purpose, ” he continued, “and were taught to regard as a sacred duty, the transmission to their posterity of the lessons thus acquired.” But now “this custom is…abandoned…except…where there is, here and there, an old ancient fellow, who upholds the old way.” Elite Choctaw families sent their children to the new Protestant missionary schools sprinkled throughout the Choctaw homeland. Traditional ideological beliefs—and the cultural mechanisms to support them—were disintegrating in the face of changing notions of economics, politics, and, most importantly, power.

This book analyzes that radical ideological transformation by focusing on elite Choctaws and their responses to a rapidly changing world during the late 1700s and early 1800s. This is a Choctaw story but it is also an American story. This most capitalist of all the world/s nations was not always that way, nor were its various peoples ever always in complete agreement about the development and adoption of capitalism—the transformation to a capitalist construction of the world is the story both of the Choctaws and America itself between 1750 and 1830. We owe it to ourselves as historians and citizens of twenty-first-century capitalist America to understand how that change occurred and what it means.

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