Foundational tenets of Chickasaw history support the common good

The history of the Chickasaw Nation stretches back millennia. The times of pre-history are not recorded, but our time here in our modern Chickasaw Nation has been a relatively short period of less than 200 years.

That sounds like a long time, but in terms of history it is only the blink of an eye!

The story of our tribe’s homelands in the southeastern geography of North America is relatively well known. We were a tribe of community builders, of commercial traders, and of warriors. Our ancestors’ skills allowed our tribe to dominate our area and we were known as “Spartans of the Mississippi.”

The maturation of the European entry into what would become the United States, and the conduct of the American Revolutionary War, changed our future forever. By the 1830s, the Chickasaw Nation became a part of the mass removal of Indian nations from their Southeastern homelands.

At this time, less than 200 years ago in America, there were no real highways or what we would think of as conveniences. There were only trails through the vast wilderness areas, with the occasional small community scattered few and far between.

It was into this unknown our ancestors traveled. Yes, our Chickasaw leadership at that time did its best to negotiate a good deal for its people. But the fact that this would be an incredibly challenging trip and a time of wrenching change was clear.

A time like Removal strips away all veneers. There was no room for incidentals or distractions. There was only the common goal of survival, and of making it to the new lands.

The Removal experience and our ancestors settling successfully in our “new” Chickasaw Nation set the foundation for who we are today as Chickasaws. There were terrible trials and pain along the way. However, the people shared the spirit of the common good. They worked together to complete the journey, and then to establish new and vital communities in our new territory. The mission was hard, and the Chickasaw people proved up to the challenge.

This was not an overnight transformation, but rather a process that took decades and encountered plenty of obstacles along the way.

When we look at who and what we are as the Chickasaw Nation today, it is easy to recognize our ties to those experiences now almost 200 years ago. The experience did not cause us to splinter and fade away. We joined together as a crew pulls in unison to power its craft. Our ancestors innately understood that sticking together in this common cause was the only real choice.

Today, the Chickasaw Nation is built on those fundamental tenets that were important to our forebears. Our traditions as community builders and commercial traders are evident. And there can be no doubt regarding our robust Chickasaw warrior ethos. In this modern era, we offer excellence in education, health care, business and community service. With that long-held virtue of perseverance, coupled with hard work and commitment to our mission, the Chickasaw Nation is a leader among our many tribal nations.

It is good to remember our history, and imperative we realize the consistent themes that have defined our success.

Removal is far behind us now, but the lessons learned have remained fresh. We understand we did not arrive in our current good place by luck or chance. Reaching our goals and serving the common good for all Chickasaws has its roots in those days of challenge in the wilderness.

There is much more for us to achieve together, and those good things will happen. Wherever we choose to expend our common energies together, our work will be a reflection of our unique and revered history.