Although nearly every chief and elite Choctaw family pursued this basic outline of economic reform in the early nineteenth century, it did not mean they agreed with one another on other important issues. Factionalism ran rampant among Choctaw leaders as some of them sought to enhance their own position and power at the expense of more traditionally minded chiefs like Mushulatubbee.
Even though Mushulatubbee realized the deerskin trade was nearing its end, he remained devoted to a traditional political arrangement. Tradition required that leadership positions be inherited through the female line, that each of the three divisions retain autonomy, and that chiefs distributed goods and favors to their family and friends.
His opponents, such as David Folsom and his family, claimed the right to lead even though they had never demonstrated their mastery of spiritual powers through war exploits or other traditional means. Folsom was a son of deerskin trader Nathaniel Folsom and his Choctaw wife, and a distant cousin of Mushulatubbee.
His wife, Rhoda Nail, was also the offspring of a European trader and Choctaw mother.
Mushulatubbee's opponents' claim to power rested wholly within the material realm. These aspiring rulers sought a constitutional government that established a council of chiefs over the entire nation, supported private property ownership, initiated a new police force, and promoted inheritance through the male line. As both sides sought to gain their peoples' confidence, Mushulatubbee ended up supporting removal and land cessions as a tactic to bolster his notion of leadership.
Beginning with the treaty click on image 2 between the Choctaws and the United States, Mushulatubbee was a signatory to land cessions that brought him gifts from the Americans. He then doled out these gifts to his supporters in the eastern division and to similarly minded folks in the western division. Traditionally, chiefs used such offerings to build up good will and reciprocal obligations. In Mushulatubbee supported the Treaty of Doak's Stand click on image 3 that provided the Choctaws with land west of the Mississippi River present-day Arkansas in exchange for another cession of land in Mississippi and Alabama to the United States.
Because few Choctaws emigrated to the new territory and since Americans had illegally claimed much of that land, Mushulatubbee and other leaders journeyed to Washington, D. Meanwhile, the Folsoms and other opponents of Mushulatubbee set themselves up as defenders of Choctaw lands and rights by publicly deriding him for this cession. The tactic worked in the short run.
Mushulatubbee was deposed from power and replaced by his nemesis David Folsom. In the five years leading up to the Treaty of Dancing Rabbit Creek click on image 4 , Mushulatubbee let it be known to the Americans that he would support removal if they would, in turn, recognize him as the legitimate leader of the eastern division. Conversely, he also began to condemn the Christian missionaries and leaders like Folsom for abandoning traditional Choctaw ideology in favor of the cultural and moral traits of Americans. Although he supported removal, Mushulatubbee appealed to the majority of Choctaw people as a champion of traditional rights.
Thus, when the new western division leader Greenwood LeFlore, with the support of his allies the Folsoms, named himself head of the entire Choctaw nation in early , Mushulatubbee condemned him so vociferously that the two sides nearly fought a pitched battle before LeFlore backed down. Leaders such as LeFlore and Folsom promoted American-style education for their children and participated eagerly in the developing plantation economy of early Mississippi.
Their attempts to replace traditional Choctaw notions of inheritance, government, and culture brought them into conflict with other chiefs like Mushulatubbee who, although also participating in the new market economy, espoused traditional notions of culture and authority. Indeed, Mushulatubbee embodied contradiction. He supported removal and traditional prerogatives at the same time. Even though he signed the Treaty of Dancing Rabbit Creek and migrated with his people to the west, Mushulatubbee blamed men like Folsom and LeFlore for the event.
He also steadfastly refused to allow missionaries among his eastern division people in the west. He died of smallpox in Once Choctaw chiefs became enmeshed in the American market system, they found their options severely limited as Americans tightened their grip on Choctaw lands. Greg O'Brien, Ph. Arthur H. DeRosier, Jr. States Statutes at Large Larger view. Indian Removal Act The Mississippi Legislature passed a resolution that went into effect in January extending its jurisdiction over Choctaw and Chickasaw territories within the state. Chief Mushulatubbee Any attempt to understand Indian removal must include the role of Indian leaders such as Choctaw Chief Mushulatubbee.
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A Market Economy Until the late s, Choctaws and their chiefs acquired European manufactured items, such as essential guns and wool cloth, by trading deerskins and other items to fur traders. Power Struggles Although nearly every chief and elite Choctaw family pursued this basic outline of economic reform in the early nineteenth century, it did not mean they agreed with one another on other important issues.
Treaty of Doak's Stand As both sides sought to gain their peoples' confidence, Mushulatubbee ended up supporting removal and land cessions as a tactic to bolster his notion of leadership.
Published June 1st by University Press of Mississippi. More Details Original Title.
Choctaw (tribe) | The Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History and Culture
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