Over the course of our blog posts, you may have noticed the phrase ‘Choctaw’ pop up every now and then: Choctaw County, the Choctaw neighborhood in the eastern suburbs of Oklahoma City, and of course the Choctaw Casinos. But what is ‘Choctaw’ and how does it fit in to the area’s history?
You may have guessed it already: Choctaw is the name of the Native American tribe of peoples who populated this area before modern settlement. In fact, the area that makes up Broken Bow was branch of the Choctaw tribe’s homeland.
The tribe originated in the southeastern states of Mississippi, Alabama, Louisiana and Florida. Descendants of the Hopewell and Mississippian cultures, the tribe actually became known as one of the five “Civilized Tribes” because they adopted the practices of neighboring U.S. areas. However the tribe, like so many others, were forced out of their lands due to settlement expansion by Europeans. This is when one branch of the tribe migrated to southeast Oklahoma while the other stayed in Mississippi.
Over the decades, the Choctaw more than did their part to help with America’s protection and growth. In fact it was the Choctaw who acted as some of the first codetalkers in World War I, preceeding the commonly-known Navajo codetalkers often portrayed in movies. These men helped to quickly put American forces in a winning position during the MauseArgonne Campaign in France, forcing a hasty German retreat. The Choctaw codetalkers were again used during World War II.
Despite so many acts of valor during wartime, the Choctaw faced a difficult existence after the second World War. Between poverty, bigotry, and attempted tribal termination by the U.S. Government, it’s a wonder that the tribe survived. But survive they did.
Finally, between the mid 1960’s and the early 1980’s, the Choctaw Nation gained strength and momentum. The Oklahoma Choctaw began turning to their roots for strength, even while their brothers and sisters in Mississippi began building businesses. When the Indian Self-Determination and Education Assistance Act came into play in 1975, the tribe was able to bring additional business and industry into their midst, providing their people with jobs, income and collective prosperity.
Of course you can witness the most obvious development by the Choctaw people in the eight area Choctaw Casinos, including one in nearby Grant (just south of Hugo), Idabel, and a slot-machine casino right here in Broken Bow, to name a few.
Currently, Oklahoma boasts the largest Choctaw populations by far with three times as many residents as the next most populous state of Texas, according to the 2010 Census. The internal community support effort for the Choctaw Nation is vast and includes healthcare, scholarships, housing, loans, family support and more.
When you enjoy a cabin getaway with Beavers Bend Creative Escapes and take a trip to any of the many Choctaw entertainment locations in the area, be sure to think of this noble tribe and everything they’ve given and paid during the history of our country.