The Choctaw relied a great deal upon corn, and also cultivated beans, squash, pumpkins and sunflowers. They gathered many wild plants, fruits and vegetables from the forests that surrounded their villages. They also relied upon hunting and fishing for subsistence.
Among the southeastern agriculturalists the Choctaw were perhaps the most skillful farmers, producing surplus crops to sell and trade. They planted corn (maize), beans, and pumpkins; fished; gathered nuts and wild fruits; and hunted deer and bear.
Deer, rabbits, squirrels, and game birds such as doves and turkeys are hunted. Most Choctaw hunters today use the same kind of weapons as their non-Indian counterparts, but this has not always been the case. Blowguns and rabbit sticks were once used.
For the most part, the Choctaw hunted white-tailed deer. These were the most common game in the area and, made up a large part of the diet of larger game. Most hunting for deer took place in the fall while the animals were in rut.
Through much of this period, the diet developed by our ancestors represented a balance of wild plant foods and animal products that were eaten according to the seasons. In the fall, women gathered acorns, while the men hunted the larger animals that the acorns attracted, their meat and hides prime for the coming cold.
Choctaw women did most of the farming, harvesting crops of corn, beans, squash, and sunflowers. Choctaw men did most of the hunting, shooting deer, wild turkeys, and small game. Men also caught fish in the rivers, lakes, and sea coasts. Choctaw recipes included cornbread, soups, and stews cooked on stone hearths.
The Choctaw were a tribe of Native American Indians who originated from modern Mexico and the American Southwest to settle in the Mississippi River Valley for about 1800 years. Known for their head-flattening and Green Corn Festival, these people built mounds and lived in a matriarchal society.
Today, Choctaw people are enrolled in three federally recognized tribes: the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma, Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians, and Jena Band of Choctaw Indians in Louisiana. Their mother mound is Nanih Waiya, a great earthwork platform mound located in central-east Mississippi.
Choctaws enjoyed the reputation of a peaceful, agricultural people. Their large numbers provided them with a measure of security from attack by their neighbors, and they are not known to have been disposed to seek military conquest. In fact, disputes among tribes in the region were sometimes settled by a game of ball.
The Choctaw observed many practices; one was called head flattening, which involved attaching a board to the heads of male infants in order to flatten them. This was a common custom among the southeast Indians.
Choctaw religion never worshiped idols, or any works of their own hands, as other Indian nations. They believed in the existence of a Great Spirit, and that He possessed super-natural power, and was omnipresent, but they did not deem that He expected or required any form of worship of them.
Social dance, stickball, basket making, traditional clothing, foodways, and other cultural traditions are places where the generations intersect, passing on wisdom along with recipes, advice about life as well as dance steps, and Choctaw words along with basket patterns, each generation teaching the next what it means
The Choctaw Nation territory has obvious assets in the Natural Resources Value Chain cluster. The presence of natural resources such as oil, natural gas, timber, water, coal, and stone position the region as a prime location for businesses adding value to raw products.
The weapons used by the Choctaw Native Indians included maces, war clubs, knives, bows and arrows and axes. The Europeans introduced muskets and then rifles. Their main enemies were the Chickasaw tribe.
Choctaw people adapted the plants of their new environment to their beliefs in herbal medicines. Through the process of removal, Indians had to adapt to both new environments and a new sense of their place in American society.