Electronic Theses and Dissertations

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

M.A. in Anthropology


Sociology and Anthropology

First Advisor

Robbie Ethridge

Second Advisor

Mikaela Adams

Third Advisor

Jay K. Johnson

Relational Format



This is an examination of the changing leadership patterns of the Chickasaw Nation during the early nineteenth century, and combines the internal function of Chickasaw government with the leaders' responses to overwhelming external factors. This thesis begins in 1800, a time that hinges on the remnant Chickasaw political leadership offices of previous centuries, such as the Minko and Tisho Minko, combined with the formation of newer offices such as district chiefs. It ends in 1845 after the Chickasaws were forced to remove from their Mississippi homelands into the Indian Territory. After removal, the Chickasaws began a more centralized form of government by holding elections to determine their leaders, and leadership power increased. Previous studies on Chickasaw leadership during this time is focused on members of the Colbert family and their influence and role within the Chickasaw Nation. At times, this focus has overshadothe important contributions made by other prominent leaders, such as Tishomingo and Ishtehotopa. This study will follow many active leaders of the early nineteenth century in order to more accurately discuss the changes in political organization, changes in leadership duties, the degree of importance each office held, and the transformation of political organization into a more centralized government. This thesis also tackles the anthropological use of binary categories, in this case "traditional" and "progressive." Categories are a useful analytic tool that contributes to the study of a culture and changes within cultural institutions such as government. The terms "traditional" and "progressive" are often applied to Indians after contact with Europeans to measure the degree of change one has accepted. These categories are not clearly defined by a scholar before it is applied, often falsely assume a leaders acceptance of a new culture, and overlook the individual and his contributions to cultural change.



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