” A practice common among southeastern tribes, the high minko did not speak in councils, but delegated this to his advisor and delegated speaker, the Tishu Minko.
Socially, the Chickasaw had 7 to 15 totemic, matrilineal, exogamic clans meaning that clan membership was determined by the mother and you had to marry outside your clan.
Adultery, especially for women, was a serious offense among the Chickasaw, and a young woman having a child out of wedlock was a disgrace to her family.
A widow was expected to remain single for four years after her husband’s death, but there does not appear to have been a similar restriction for men.
Other southeastern characteristics were the “black drink,” a purgative to induce vomiting and purify the body, and the “ball game,” a brutal contact sport played each summer with the all-day games involving entire towns and hundreds of players.
Horses were used primarily to transport deerskins east to the British at Charleston, but the Chickasaw soon developed a superior riding breed, the Chickasaw Horse, known for its long stride and endurance.
Otherwise, their method of warfare was a small (30 to 50 men) war party which could travel quietly and surprise an enemy.
The “unexpected” was so typical of the Chickasaw warfare that one would think that their enemies would have anticipated it, and since the Chickasaw believed that a dead warrior’s ghost would haunt his relatives until avenged, the only question about Chickasaw retaliation was when and where.
At times these included the Creeks, Caddo, Cherokee, Illinois, Potawatomi , Miami, Iroquois, Wyandot , Ottawa, Kickapoo, Mobile, Menominee , Kickapoo, Shawnee, Osage, Chacha, Houma, Yuchi, Tunica, and Quapaw.
The Chickasaw whipped them all and in the process helped drive the French from North America, frustrate the ambitions of Spain, and defeat the Americans, in their only encounter during the Revolutionary War.
The timing of this is uncertain, but the Chickasaw had been there for some time when Hernando De Soto’s conquistador army arrived in December of 1540.
Still healing the wounds from their victory over the Mobile in southern Alabama, the Spanish were discouraged by the ferocity of the battle and their failure to find gold.
Rumors of mutiny had forced De Soto to turn northward to find winter quarters rather than risk wholesale desertions if he proceeded to the supply ships waiting on the coast.
As one-sided as their victory had been, the Spanish were no longer viewed as invincible by the region’s tribes, and the reception they received from the Chickasaw at a river crossing in northern Alabama was a shower of arrows from warriors on the other side.
The Spanish finally forced their way across and, after capturing several hostages, demanded that the Chickasaw supply them with food.
The Chickasaw supplied the Spanish with corn but were still trying to find a way way to rid themselves of their “guests.
” To this end, they asked the Spanish to help them crush a revolt by a tributary tribe to the west, the Chakchiuma.
De Soto agreed to send 30 horsemen and 80 infantry but, realizing the danger of dividing his army, put the remainder on alert.
Since the Chickasaw were sharing their food with De Soto, they saw nothing wrong with appropriating a few of the Spanish pigs.