The "Identified full-bloods" in Mississippi: Race and Choctaw Identity, 1898-1918

Katherine M.B. Osburn

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Federal Indian policy during the allotment era intersected with the segregated society of the Jim Crow South to create a market for Indian identity; the discourse of Indian blood was the currency of this realm. For the Mississippi Choctaws, heirs to the failed promises of allotments for Choctaws remaining in Mississippi granted by the 1830 Treaty of Dancing Rabbit Creek, a policy known as the "full-blood rule of evidence" legitimized their enrollment with the Choctaw Nation of Indian Territory following the Dawes Act. This paper analyzes how the Mississippi Choctaws negotiated ideologies of "Indian blood" during their campaign for inclusion on the Choctaw Nation rolls. Appropriating the racial language of "fullblood" as defined by the Dawes Commission, they claimed citizenship in the Choctaw Nation by virtue of their "unadulterated" ancestry, their ethnicity, their historic role as military allies of the United States, and their treaty rights. Moreover, as thousands of people clamored for enrollment, the Mississippi Choctaws asserted their status as full-bloods to distinguish themselves from those claimants whom they viewed as pretenders. The Choctaws' use of racial language thus reflected multifaceted meanings that obscured the boundaries between racial and cultural delineations of ethnic identity. It was strategic to the political moment and did not reflect significant changes in the Choctaws' cultural practices; moreover, it did not become the basis for future political divisions based on "blood." Rather, Choctaws' racial identity as full-blood Indians was a form of political capital in their drive for tribal resurgence in the early twentieth century.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)423-447
Number of pages25
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2009
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • History
  • Anthropology


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