Living in the Land of Death

Living in the Land of Death

The Choctaw Nation, 1830-1860

Book - 2004
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Living in the Land of the Dead depicts the story of Choctaw survival, and the evolution of the Choctaw people in their new environment. Culturally, over time, their adaptation was one of homesteads and agriculture, eventually making them self-sufficient in the rich new lands of Indian Territory.


With the Indian Removal Act of 1830, the Choctaw people began their journey over the Trail of Tears from their homelands in Mississippi to the new lands of the Choctaw Nation. Suffering a death rate of nearly 20 percent due to exposure, disease, mismanagement, and fraud, they limped into Indian Territory, or, as they knew it, the Land of the Dead (the route taken by the souls of Choctaw people after death on their way to the Choctaw afterlife). Their first few years in the new nation affirmed their name for the land, as hundreds more died from whooping cough, floods, starvation, cholera, and smallpox.
Living in the Land of the Dead depicts the story of Choctaw survival, and the evolution of the Choctaw people in their new environment. Culturally, over time, their adaptation was one of homesteads and agriculture, eventually making them self-sufficient in the rich new lands of Indian Territory. Along the Red River and other major waterways several Choctaw families of mixed heritage built plantations, and imported large crews of slave labor to work cotton fields. They developed a sub-economy based on interaction with the world market. However, the vast majority of Choctaws continued with their traditional subsistence economy that was easily adapted to their new environment.
The immigrant Choctaws did not, however, move into land that was vacant. The U.S. government, through many questionable and some outright corrupt extralegal maneuvers, chose to believe it had gained title through negotiations with some of the peoples whose homelands and hunting grounds formed Indian Territory. Many of these indigenous peoples reacted furiously to the incursion of the Choctaws onto their rightful lands. They threatened and attacked the Choctaws and other immigrant Indian Nations for years. Intruding on others’ rightful homelands, the farming-based Choctaws, through occupation and economics, disrupted the traditional hunting economy practiced by the Southern Plains Indians, and contributed to the demise of the Plains ways of life.



Book News
In 30 years the Choctaw nation suffered much, and its survival in any form is remarkable. Marching from Mississippi to Indian Territory ("The Land of Death") cost one out of five Choctaws their lives; violence and disease in the Land of Death cost the nation many of its traditional elders and disrupted the largely matrilineal society. In time a subsistence economy developed, and some families became plantation owners and slave holders. However, as Akers (history, Purdue U.) explains, whether they barely survived or became rich, Choctaws had to contend with those who had been in the Land of Death before them. Years of enmity and violence marked the relations of the nations (rather than mutual resistance of the self-serving white minority that had thrown them together). Annotation ©2004 Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)

Publisher: East Lansing : Michigan State University Press, [2004]
Copyright Date: ©2004
ISBN: 9780870136849
0870136844
Branch Call Number: 970.3 Akers 2004
Characteristics: xxvii, 202 pages : illustrations, map ; 23 cm

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