Choctaw Indians, a North American Indian tribe of the Muskhogean language family. During the period of European colonization, the Choctaw occupied much of the inland areas of present-day Alabama and southern Mississippi. They numbered about 20,000 at the time. The Choctaw lived in permanent villages and were skilled at farming. Although generally unwarlike, they fought as allies of the French during the period of Anglo-French colonial rivalry.
By the early 1830's, the Choctaw had been forced to cede their lands to make way for white settlers. During 1831–34, most were removed to Indian Territory (now Oklahoma), where, together with the Cherokee, Creek, Chickasaw, and Seminole, they formed the Five Civilized Tribes. The Choctaw set up their own government, schools, and industries. In 1907, when Oklahoma was admitted to the Union, the governments of the various tribes within its borders were dissolved, and the Indians, including the Choctaw, became American citizens. Today, there are about 87,000 Choctaw in the United States. About 44,000 live in Oklahoma, and about 6,400 live in Mississippi as a separate tribe.