Theses and Dissertations

Issuing Body

Mississippi State University


Marshall, Anne

Committee Member

Marcus, Alan I.

Committee Member

Peacock, Evan

Committee Member

Phillips, Jason K.

Committee Member

Messer, Peter C.

Date of Degree


Document Type

Dissertation - Open Access


History (Native America)

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


College of Arts and Sciences


Department of History


Acculturation has become an integral part of scholarship about Native Americans in the Southeast. Recent studies have focused on trade the eighteenth century and Choctaw entry into the American market economy during the beginning of the nineteenth century. This study analyzes acculturation from 1801 to 1861, carrying the story about cultural change and persistence through the Removal era and to the American Civil War. It argues that while Choctaws acculturated to survive, prosper, and protect autonomy in a changing world, they continuously battled communal dissolution, which threatened to destroy their nation. Some individuals attempted to promote new methods of subsistence, worshiping, and dealing with the United States, and others feared that a loss of traditions would disrupt the bonds that bound together Choctaws as a people. Most Choctaws attempted to change certain elements of culture while maintaining others. New ideologies about behavior, political and social organization, and economic transformation highlighted the divisions between individuals and among social orders and classes. The threat of factionalism then determined how Choctaws, both elites and commoners, reacted to major nineteenth-century crises, which included the destruction of game, entrance into the American market economy, establishment and continuation of missionary education, Removal, the evolution of a national constitution, and decisions about Choctaw entry into the Civil War. By understanding the relationships between communal dissolution and acculturation in this way, this study portrays how Choctaws fought to balance cultural change and persistence while creating new bonds that held their society in tact through multiple tribulations throughout the nineteenth century.