Trading paths: Chickasaw diplomacy in the greater southeast, 1690s--1790s

Date of Completion

January 2004


Anthropology, Cultural|History, United States|Sociology, Ethnic and Racial Studies




Using the Chickasaws' deerskin maps of 1723 and 1737 as guides, this dissertation argues that the Chickasaws' Indian alliances improved their diplomatic leverage, strengthened their military force, and helped them to preserve their independence in the face of numerous Indian and European enemies. Emphasizing the supposed “warlike” nature of Chickasaw society, scholars have overlooked peace-making as one of the tribe's responses to European expansion. As the Chickasaws' maps demonstrate, they configured their alliances around trading paths to the British on the east coast and extended pathways of exchange to Indians the south in order to reconcile the Choctaws, their most lethal enemy, and to recruit military assistance from the Natchez and Yazoos against French Louisiana. It is because the Chickasaws were so small and their fate so precarious that they are important to study, for their case starkly illustrates colonia Europeans' reliance upon Indian allies—not just large tribes like the Cherokees, but also small, strategically located Indians like the Chickasaws. ^