The Chickasaws are a Native American people of the United States, originally from present-day Mississippi, now mostly living in Oklahoma. They are related to the Choctaws, who speak a language very similar to the Chickasaw language. The Chickasaws were one of the "Five Civilized Tribes" forcibly removed to the Indian Territory during the era of Indian Removal.
The origin of the Chickasaws is uncertain. When Europeans first encountered them, the Chickasaws were living in villages in what is now Mississippi and western Tennessee, with a smaller number in South Carolina. The Chickasaws may have been immigrants to the area, and perhaps were not descendants of Indians of the pre-historic Mississippian culture.
The Chickasaws had a reputation for being brave and fierce warriors; their warlike culture has been compared to that of the ancient Spartans. The first European contact with the Chickasaws was in 1540, when Spanish explorer Hernando De Soto encountered them. After various disagreements, the Chickasaws attacked the De Soto expedition, and the Spanish moved on.
The Chickasaws began to trade with the British after the colony of Carolina was founded in 1670. With British-supplied guns, the Chickasaws raided their enemies the Choctaws, capturing Choctaws and selling them into slavery, a practice that stopped once the Choctaws acquired guns from the French. The Chickasaws were often at war with the French and the Choctaws in the eighteenth century, such as in the Battle of Ackia on May 26, 1736, until France gave up her claims to the region after the Seven Years' War.
The majority of the tribe was deported to Indian Territory (now headquartered in Ada, Oklahoma) in the 1830s. Remnants of the South Carolina Chickasaws have reorganized tribal government, and are in process of gaining recognition from the state, having their tribal headquarters at Indiantown, South Carolina.
During the American Civil War, the Chickasaw Nation sided with the South. It was the last Confederate community to surrender in the U.S.
The Chickasaw Nation Capital (1855-1907) was Tishomingo, OK. The third capital building was used as the Johnston County Courthouse until recently, when it was reclaimed by the Chickasaw Nation. The present structure is built of red granite in the Victorian Gothic style.