Choctaw (chŏkˈtô) [key], Native North Americans whose language belongs to the Muskogean branch of the Hokan-Siouan linguistic stock (see Native American languages). They formerly occupied central and S Mississippi with some outlying groups in Alabama, Georgia, and Louisiana. Choctaw culture was similar to that of the Creek and Chickasaw, who were their enemies in repeated wars. The Choctaw economy was based on agriculture, and the Choctaw were perhaps the most competent farmers in the Southeast. Friendly toward the French colonists, the Choctaw were their allies in wars against other tribes. After being forced to cede their lands in Alabama and Mississippi, they moved (1832) to the Indian Territory in Oklahoma, where they became one of the Five Civilized Tribes. In 1990 there were over 85,000 Choctaw in the United States, with more than half living in Oklahoma.
See A. Debo, The Rise and Fall of the Choctaw Republic (3d ed. 1967); A. H. DeRosier, The Removal of the Choctaw Indians (1971); W. D. Baird, Peter Pitchlynn: Chief of the Choctaws (1972); C. K. Reeves, The Choctaw Before Removal (1985).