Response: New Trees, New Medicines, New Wars: The Chickasaw Removal


  • Linda Hogan Chickasaw Nation Writer in Residence


The Five Major Tribes of the Southeastern United States were removed to Indian Territory, Oklahoma. Indian Territory was a location created to contain all tribal peoples of the U. S. inside it, and then to have walls built around it so none could escape. It was not considered a state. The tribes, in need of assistance promised and denied by the Americans, signed a treaty with the Confederate States of the South. Still, they were removed from their rich lands to the drought-ridden grasslands which became called Oklahoma, our word meaning “Red People”, in 1927. The migration of the people was made difficult as they invaded the land of tribal peoples already present. They needed to learn new trees, had fewer water sources, and lacked knowledge of new medicinal plants. This paper is an account of that migration, even changes created for wildlife and birds, the new knowledge of plants, trees, and especially how new medicines were traded and learned. The stories are spoken by people. A historical memory, and also the stories of continued displacement by government actions and punishments against those who didn’t want to participate in wars soon undertaken. The presenter is from this nation, works there, and hears the stories people continue to tell. From an early age, she also had a mentor in medicinal knowledge, which she doesn’t use except as occasional recommendations.