Floridian Nature

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Florida Tribes: Choctaw Indians
The Choctaws are original people of the American southeast, particularly Mississippi, Alabama, Louisiana, and Florida. Most Choctaws were forced to move to Oklahoma in the 1800's along the Trail of Tears. The Choctaw Indians' origin Myth is a fascinating one:  The tribe had been travelling through rough terrain and dense forest for  months, carrying the numerous bones of their dead; this task had taken its toll on the living, who grew more fatigued with each passing day of their seemingly unending journey. It is then that they came upon a creek, which the Chief decided they would use as their encampment for the winter. When the warmer climes came, the tribe was healthy from rest and an abundance of food from the surrounding area, so they decided to make the creek their permanent home. Overlooking the creek was a steep hill with an indent in one side, which the Choctaw named "Nunih Waya", meaning: "Productive Mound".  Nunih Waya is also often referred to as "The Mother Mound"; from this, the Choctaw encampment got the name "Nanih Waya". The Choctaw were a Matriarchal society, which explains why they liken abundance from nature to a mother's care. 

Choctaw men were hunters and sometimes went to war to protect their families. Choctaw women were farmers and also did most of the child care and cooking. Both genders took part in storytelling, artwork and music, and traditional medicine. Choctaw men wore breechcloths. Choctaw women wore wraparound skirts made of deerskin or woven fiber. Shirts were not necessary in Choctaw culture, but men and women both wore poncho-style capes in cool weather. The Choctaws also wore moccasins on their feet. The Choctaws didn't wear long head dresses like the Sioux. Choctaw men and women both wore their hair long, but some men cut their hair in the Mohawk style, decorating the fringe with feathers. Choctaws often painted their faces and bodies bright colors during battles, lacrosse games, and festivals. Some Choctaw men also wore tribal tattoos on their arms and legs.

The Choctaw, along with five other southern tribes were moved to Oklahoma following the treaty of Dancing Rabbit Creek in 1830.   Many Choctaw died from disease, famine and attacks from white men and hostile Indians including the Comanche, during this transition, which came to be known as the "Trail of Tears". Those who adjusted to the relocation were soon assimilated by religious missionaries sent to Oklahoma in an effort to "civilize" the Natives.  The missionaries stressed the importance of education in the goal of establishing a better rapport with the white man. The Choctaw sided with the Confederates during the Civil war of 1860, an alliance which prompted the Choctaw to become the first US Indian tribe to adopt a flag of their own; the flag, carried by the Choctaw Confederate Soldiers, features a circle surrounding a calumet, and a bow with three arrows symbolizing the three Choctaw Sub-Nations.

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