Thursday, August 3, 2017

Alfred Boisseau (Paris-born American painter, 1823–1901) paints a Choctaw Woman in Louisiana

From Europe to the Atlantic coast of America & on to the Pacific coast during the 17C-19C, settlers moved West encountering a variety of Indigenous Peoples who had lived on the land for centuries.
Alfred Boisseau (Paris-born American painter, 1823–1901) A Choctaw Woman in Louisiana.  The Choctaw are a Native American people native to Mississippi, Florida, Alabama, & Louisiana in the American South. Most Choctaw supported the United States during the American Revolutionary War, & the Choctaw never went to war with the USA. They were some of the first tribes to be moved west of the Mississippi River under the Indian Removal Act, & they were given some of the most favorable lands in the Indian Territory, while those in Mississippi were given US citizenship in 1831. The Choctaw supported the Confederate States of America during the American Civil War, & they would be part of the US Army's code-talkers during World War I. 

 Choctaw Indian Nation traces its ancestry to Mississippi & some sections of Alabama. Legends tell that the Choctaw people originated from "Nanih Waya," a sacred hill near what is now known as Noxapter, Mississippi. "Nanih Waiya" means "Productive Mound" and is often referred to as "The Mother Mound." Culturally, the Choctaws honored their women as the head of the family household. They were the care-takers of tribe children, elders, and the home.

The Choctaws were the 1st of the 5 southern tribes of the United States to be moved to Oklahoma by the Treaty of Dancing Rabbit Creek in 1830. Over 20,000 Choctaws moved on this long journey, with many of the Choctaw people not surviving this removal on what has come to be called "THE TRAIL OF TEARS."  The Choctaws adjusted quickly to their new homeland. Missionaries were sent to Oklahoma Territory including Southern Baptists, Congregationalists, & Presbyterians. These missionaries established good rapport with the Choctaws, & early impressed upon the Choctaws the importance & need for formal education, if they were to co-exist with the invading settlers.

At that time there were 3 districts in Oklahoma where the Choctaws resided; Pushmataha, Apukshunubbee and Mushulatubbee. Here, largely through the efforts of early missionaries, the Choctaws accepted an alien religion & code of morals; established a completely foreign educational system; adopted the constitution & legal system; & modified their agricultural & commercial practices to conform with the US economic system.

The Choctaw "public school" system was started in 1821, before removal to what became Oklahoma.  The Wheelock Academy was founded in 1831. One of the most prominent of the Choctaw schools was established in 1843, known as Armstrong Academy situated in the vicinity north of Bokchito, Bryan County, Oklahoma. When the Civil War broke out, the Choctaws moved their capitol to the Armstrong Academy, so that it would be removed from the war zone. By 1883, the Choctaw Capitol had moved to Tuskahoma, and Armstrong Academy was again used as a boarding school for orphaned Choctaw boys. By 1894, Calvin Institute, another school for Indian youths, was established in Durant, Bryan County, Oklahoma. By 1899, it had attracted an enrollment of 300. The school eventually became known as Oklahoma Presbyterian College, which closed in 1960.