Pushmataha, Principal Chief of the Choctaw Nation

Mississippi, United States

Pushmataha, Principal Chief of the Choctaw Nation's Geni Profile

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Pushmataha, Principal Chief of the Choctaw Nation

Also Known As: "Poymutahaw", "Payemataha", "Push Ma Ta Ha Apushim", "Apushamatahahubi", "Pooshamallaha", "or Poosha Matthaw"
Birthplace: Choctaw Nation Territory, New France (presently Macon, Noxubee County)
Death: December 24, 1824 (55-64)
Washington, District of Columbia, United States (pneumonia)
Place of Burial: Range 31-Site 41, Washington, District of Columbia, District of Columbia, United States
Immediate Family:

Husband of Imachoka / Lunnabaka / Jamesaichikkako; Margaret Alphonse and Chamnay
Father of Hashitubbiee "Johnson" Pushmataha; Betsy Moore; Martha Moore; James Madison Pushmataha; Unknown Child Pushmataha and 5 others
Brother of Hushi Yukpa / "Happy Bird" and Nahotima Choctaw

Occupation: Brigadier-General of the American army, Chief to the Choctaw Nation, Choctaw Chief/General, Chief of the Choctaw Nation, CHOCTAW INDIAN CHIEF AND BRIGADIER GENERAL
Battle of 1812: Chalmette with Choctaw Regiment and Pinetuckians
Battles: Age 13, Battle of Horse Shoe Bend
Managed by: Barry Martin Lott
Last Updated:

About Pushmataha, Principal Chief of the Choctaw Nation

Pushmataha's parents are unknown, clearly not The Sun Mythical and The Moon Mythical. He had two documented siblings and is believed to have had five children by his two wives. Only the children of the second wife, Immayahoka, are documented. The name of his first wife and their son are both unknown. His four documented children are Johnson, Betsy Moore, Martha Moore, and James Madison. Nothing is known of Betsy, Martha, and James beyond their names. Any other children claimed for him are therefore speculative and unproven.


From Wikipedia https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pushmataha

Paramount leader of the Choctaw

  • In office 1815–1824
  • Succeeded by Chief Oklahoma (nephew)[citation needed]

Mingo of the Six Towns District

  • In office 1800–1824
  • Succeeded by Tappenahoma[1]
  • Born c. 1764
  • Macon, Mississippi
  • Died December 24, 1824
  • Washington, D.C.
  • Resting place Congressional Cemetery, Washington, D.C.
  • Children 5

Pushmataha (c. 1764 – December 24, 1824; also spelled Pooshawattaha, Pooshamallaha, or Poosha Matthaw), the "Indian General", was one of the three regional chiefs of the major divisions of the Choctaw in the 19th century. Many historians considered him the "greatest of all Choctaw chiefs".[2] Pushmataha was highly regarded among Native Americans, Europeans, and white Americans, for his skill and cunning in both war and diplomacy.

Rejecting the offers of alliance and reconquest proffered by Tecumseh, Pushmataha led the Choctaw to fight on the side of the United States in the War of 1812. He negotiated several treaties with the United States.

In 1824, he traveled to Washington to petition the Federal government against further cessions of Choctaw land; he met with John C. Calhoun and Marquis de Lafayette, and his portrait was painted by Charles Bird King. He died in the capital city and was buried with full military honors in the Congressional Cemetery in Washington, D.C.


The exact meaning of Pushmataha's name is unknown, though scholars agree that it suggests connotations of "ending". Many possible etymologies have been suggested:

  • Apushamatahahubi: "a messenger of death; literally one whose rifle, tomahawk, or bow is alike fatal in war or hunting."[2]
  • Apushim-alhtaha, "the sapling is ready, or finished, for him."[3]
  • Pushmataha, "the warrior's seat is finished."[4]
  • Pushmataha, "He has won all the honors of his race."[5]
  • Apushimataha, "No more in the bag."[6]

Early life

Pushmataha's early life is poorly documented. His parents are unknown, possibly killed in a raid by a neighboring tribe. Pushmataha never spoke of his ancestors; a legend of his origin was told:

A little cloud was once seen in the northern sky. It came before a rushing wind, and covered the Choctaw country with darkness. Out of it flew an angry fire. It struck a large oak, and scattered its limbs and its trunk all along the ground, and from that spot sprung forth a warrior fully armed for war.[4]

Most historians agree that he was born in 1764 in the normal manner near the future site of Macon, Mississippi.[6]

When he was 13, Pushmataha fought in a war against the Creek people.[7] Some sources report that he was given the early warrior-name of "Eagle". Better attested is his participation in wars with the Osage and Caddo tribes west of the Mississippi River between 1784 and 1789.[2][8] He served as a warrior in other conflicts into the first decade of the 1800s, and by then his reputation as a warrior was made. These conflicts were due to depletion of the traditional deer-hunting grounds of the Choctaw around their holy site of Nanih Waiya. Population had increased in the area, and competition among tribes over the fur trade with Europeans exacerbated violent conflict. The Choctaw raided traditional hunting grounds of other tribes for deer.[9] Pushmataha's raids extended into the territories that would become the states of Arkansas and Oklahoma. His experience and knowledge of the lands would prove invaluable for later negotiations with the US government for those same lands.

Chief of the Six Towns district

By 1800, Pushmataha was recognized as a military and spiritual leader, and he was chosen as the mingo (chief) of the Okla Hannali or Six Towns district of the Choctaw. (One of three in the Choctaw tribe, this covered the southern part of their territory, primarily in Mississippi). His sharp logic, humorous wit, and lyrical, eloquent speaking style quickly earned him renown in councils.[9] Pushmataha rapidly took a central position in diplomacy, first meeting with United States envoys at Fort Confederation in 1802.[9] Pushmataha negotiated the Treaty of Mount Dexter with the United States on November 16, 1805,[5][10] and met Thomas Jefferson during his term as President.

War of 1812

Early in 1811, Tecumseh garnered support for his British-backed attempt to recover lands from the United States settlers. As chief for the Six Towns district, Pushmataha strongly resisted such a plan, pointing out that the Choctaw and their neighbors the Chickasaw had always lived in peace with European Americans, had learned valuable skills and technologies, and had received honest treatment and fair trade.[8] The joint Choctaw-Chickasaw council voted against alliance with Tecumseh. When Tecumseh departed, Pushmataha accused him of tyranny over his own Shawnee tribe and other tribes. He warned Tecumseh that he would fight against those who fought the United States.[11]

With the outbreak of war, Pushmataha led the Choctaw in alliance with the United States. He argued against the Creek alliance with Britain after the massacre at Fort Mims.[9] In mid-1813, Pushmataha went to St. Stephens, Alabama with an offer of alliance and recruitment of warriors. He was escorted to Mobile to speak with General Flournoy, then commanding the district. Flournoy initially declined Pushmataha's offer and offended the chief. Flournoy's staff quickly convinced the general to reverse his decision. A courier carrying a message accepting Pushmataha's offer caught up with the chief at St. Stephens.[12]

Returning to Choctaw territory, Pushmataha raised a company of 500 warriors. He was commissioned (as either a Lieutenant Colonel or a Brigadier General) in the United States Army at St. Stephens. After observing that the officers and their wives would promenade along the Tombigbee River, Pushmataha invited his wife to St. Stephens and took part in this custom.

Under Brigadier General Ferdinand Claiborne, Pushmataha and 150 Choctaw warriors took part in an attack on Creek forces at the Battle of Holy Ground, also known as Kantachi or Econochaca, on December 23, 1813.[5][12] With this victory, Choctaw began to volunteer in greater numbers from the other two districts of the tribe. By February 1814, Pushmataha led a larger band of Choctaws and joined General Andrew Jackson's force to sweep the Creek territories near Pensacola. Many Choctaw departed after the final defeat of the Creek at Horseshoe Bend.

By the Battle of New Orleans, only a few Choctaw remained with the army. They were the only Native American tribe represented in the battle. Some sources say Pushmataha was among them, while others disagree. Another Choctaw division chief, Mushulatubbee, led about 50 of his warriors in this battle.

Pushmataha was regarded as a strict war leader, marshaling his warriors with discipline. U.S. Army officers impressed with his leadership skills called him "The Indian General".

Principal Chief of the Choctaw

On his return from the wars, Pushmataha was elected paramount chief of the Choctaw nation. A cultural conservative, Pushamataha resisted the efforts of Protestant missionaries, who arrived in Choctaw territory in 1818.[9] But he agreed with learning new technologies and useful practices from the Americans, including the adoption of cotton gins, agricultural practices, and military disciplines.[8] He devoted much of his military pension to funding a Choctaw school system,[5] and had his five children educated as well as possible.[4]

Pushmataha negotiated two more land-cession treaties with the United States. While the treaty of October 24, 1816 was counted of little loss, composed mainly of hunted-out grounds, the Treaty of Doak's Stand (signed October 18, 1820) was highly contentious. European-American settlement was encroaching on core lands of the Choctaw. Although the government offered equivalent-sized plots of land in the future states of Arkansas and Oklahoma, Pushmataha knew the lands were less fertile and that European-American squatters were already settling in the territory. "He displayed much diplomacy and showed a business capacity equal to that of Gen. Jackson, against whom he was pitted, in driving a sharp bargain."[5] Reportedly, in a tense exchange with Andrew Jackson, they exchanged frank views:

Gen. Jackson put on all his dignity and thus addressed the chief: "I wish you to understand that I am Andrew Jackson, and, by the Eternal, you shall sign that treaty as I have prepared it.

The mighty Choctaw Chief was not disconcerted by this haughty address, and springing suddenly to his feet, and imitating the manner of his opponent, replied, "I know very well who you are, but I wish you to understand that I am Pushmataha, head chief of the Choctaws; and, by the Eternal, I will not sign that treaty."[citation needed]

Pushmataha signed only after securing guarantees in the text of the treaty that the US would evict squatters from reserved lands.

Journey to Washington

In 1824, Pushmataha was upset about encroaching settlement patterns and the unwillingness of local authorities to respect Indian land title. He took his case directly to the Federal government in Washington, D.C. Leading a delegation of two other regional chiefs (Apuckshunubbee and Mosholatubbee), he sought either expulsion of white settlers from deeded lands in Arkansas, or compensation in land and cash for such lands.[9] The group included Talking Warrior, Red Fort, Nittahkachee, Col. Robert Cole and David Folsom, both mixed-race Choctaw; Captain Daniel McCurtain; and Major John Pitchlynn (married to a Choctaw), the official U.S. Interpreter.[13]

The delegation planned to travel the Natchez Trace to Nashville, then to Lexington and Maysville, Kentucky; across the Ohio River (called the Spaylaywitheepi by the Shawnee) to Chillicothe, Ohio (former principal town of the Shawnee); and east along the "National Highway" to Washington City. [13]

Pushmataha met with President James Monroe, and gave a speech to Secretary of War John C. Calhoun. He reminded Calhoun of the longstanding alliances between the United States and the Choctaw.[14] He said, "[I] can say and tell the truth that no Choctaw ever drew his bow against the United States ... My nation has given of their country until it is very small. We are in trouble." (Hewitt 1995:51–52)

While in Washington, Pushmataha sat in his Army uniform for a portrait by Charles Bird King; it hung in the Smithsonian Institution until 1865. While the original was destroyed by a fire that year, numerous prints had been made. It has become the most famous likeness of Pushmataha. Chief Pushmataha also met with the Marquis de Lafayette, who was visiting Washington, D.C. for the last time. Pushmataha hailed Lafayette as a fellow aged warrior who, though foreign, rose to high renown in the American cause.

Death and burial

In December 1824, Pushmataha acquired a viral respiratory infection, then called the croup. He quickly became seriously ill and was visited by Andrew Jackson. On his deathbed, Pushmataha reflected that the national capital was a good place to die. Pushmataha's chosen assistant also happened to suddenly die on the return journey from Washington, DC to Choctaw lands in present day Mississippi.

Pushmataha requested full military honors for his funeral, and gave specific instructions as to his effects. His last recorded words were these:

I am about to die, but you will return to our country. As you go along the paths, you will see the flowers, and hear the birds sing; but Pushmataha will see and hear them no more. When you reach home they will ask you, 'Where is Pushmataha?' And you will say to them, 'He is no more.' They will hear your words as they do the fall of the great oak in the stillness of the midnight woods.[4]

Pushmataha died on December 24, 1824. As requested, he was buried with full military honors as a Brigadier General of the U.S. Army, in the Congressional Cemetery in Washington. He is one of two Native American chiefs interred there, the other being Peter Pitchlynn, also a Choctaw.

His epitaph, inscribed in upper case letters, reads:

Push-ma-ta-ha, a Choctaw chief, lies here. This monument to his memory is erected by his brother chiefs who were associated with him in a delegation from their nation in the year 1824 to the general government of the United States.

Push-ma-ta-ha was a warrior of great distinction he was wise in council — eloquent in an extraordinary degree, and on all occasions & under all circumstances the white man's friend.

He died in Washington on the 24th of December 1824 of the croup in the 60th year of his age. Among his last words were the following "When I am gone let the big guns be fired over me."

The National Intelligencer reported on December 28, 1824 on his death:

At Tennison's Hotel, on Friday last, the 24th instant, Pooshamataha, a Chief of the Choctaw Nation of Indians, distinguished for his bold elocution and his attachment to the United States. At the commencement of the late war on our Southern border, he took an early and decided stand in favor of the weak and isolated settlements on Tombigby, and he continued to fight with and for them whilst they had an enemy in the field. His bones will rest a distance from his home, but in the bosom of the people he delighted to love. May a good hunting ground await his generous spirit in another and a better world. Military honors were paid to his remains by the Marine Corps of the United States, and by several uniformed companies of the militia.

The Hampshire Gazette (MA), Jan. 5, 1825, reported:

At Washington city, PUSHA-A-MA-TA-HA, principal chief of a district of the Choctaw nation of Indians. This chief was remarkable for his personal courage and skill in war, having been engaged in 24 battles, several of which were fought under the command of Gen. Jackson.


There is a six-month period in which no documentation of the Chief of the Six Towns is recorded; however, Tappenahoma, nephew of Chief Pushmataha'[1] is shown to have succeeded Pushmataha. Correspondence dated June 1825 lists Tappenahoma in this position. Several Choctaw histories have confused Tappenahoma with General Hummingbird, who died at the age of 75 on December 23, 1827.[15] A letter dated September 28, 1828 from Tappenahoma mentions his Uncle Pushmataha. The Choctaw nation at this time was on the point of Civil War; the faction supported by David Folsom elected John Garland to replace Tappenahoma by October 11, 1828.[1] Nittakechi (Day-prolonger) succeeded Humming Bird and was the Chief for the District during the Treaty of Dancing Rabbit Creek.[16]

Legacy and honors

The Choctaw Nation in Oklahoma included a Pushmataha District, where his clan settled, until Oklahoma's statehood.

The new state of Oklahoma named Pushmataha County in his honor.

The Boy Scouts of America named the council containing the area of Nanih Waiya, the "Pushmataha Area Council". The story of Pushmataha is related to all Scouts at the local summer camp.

Camp Pushmataha in Citronelle, AL is owned by the City of Citronelle is the old Boy Scout Camp for the Mobile Area Council and is the site Last Surrender of the Civil War.

The community of Pushmataha in northwestern Choctaw County, Alabama, is named in his honor. The area was formerly part of traditional Choctaw territory in west-central Alabama prior to the removal, following the Treaty of Dancing Rabbit Creek.[17]

At least three ships have borne the name Pushmataha. A British-flagged sloop serving Confederate commercial interests during the American Civil War was known as Pushmataha, and two U.S. Navy vessels have also borne the name. The first USS Pushmataha was a screw sloop built in 1868 and soon renamed USS Congress. The second USS Pushmataha was a Natick-class tugboat launched in 1974, struck from the Navy list in 1995.


Many historians use a quote attributed to Gideon Lincecum, who said that Pushmataha was an orphan with no family; but, both George Strother Gaines and Henry Sales Halbert mention his family. In Publications of the Mississippi Historical Society, Vol 6, Halbert mentions a sister named Nahomtima, the mother of Tappenahoma and Oka Lah Homma (from his notes). Gaines mentions the nephew who succeeded Pushmataha, but does not give a name.[18] Halbert received his information from first and secondhand accounts, and Gaines from personal knowledge. Although Lincecum lived among the Choctaw, he writes that he only met the Chief on three or four occasions, while living near the Chief Mosholatubbee. Most of what Gideon Lincecum wrote came from information provided by others.

The supplement to the Treaty of Dancing Rabbit Creek mentions the widows of Pushmataha. Only one widow has been documented as having received the land guaranteed to them by the treaty. When she and her three children later sold the land, her name was recorded in three different spellings in the deed: as Immahoka, Lunnabaka/Lunnabaga, and Jamesaichikkako. [19] Some individuals claim to be descendants of the chief, but the only record of the number of his children is by Charles Lanman,[20] who wrote there were five. Lanman likely based his statement on the notes of Thompson Mckinney,[citation needed] who had resided among the Choctaw for many years. Mckinney had written in an 1830 letter to James L. McDonald, a Choctaw lawyer in Hinds County, Mississippi, about his interest in writing about Pushmataha.

Alabama Congressional papers of November 1818 referred to a son.[21] His children were:

  • Hashitubbiee, also known as Johnson Pushmataha, died 1862-1865 in Blue County, Choctaw Nation, 3rd District
  • Betsy Moore, nothing found after deed
  • Martha Moore, nothing found after deed
  • James Madison, disappeared after the 1818 record in Alabama papers
  • Running Deer, also known as "Julia Ann", born about 1780 and died in either 1810 or in 1854. She married Joseph Anderson. Their great granddaughter, Sarah Ann Anderson "Aaron", married Benjamin Slade.[citation needed]

See also

  • Apuckshunubbee
  • Mushulatubbee
  • Greenwood LeFlore
  • George W. Harkins
  • Peter Pitchlynn
  • Phillip Martin
  • List of Choctaw treaties


  1. [NARA, letter transcriptions found show the date of death listed by Mr. Hudson is incorrect. A letter to Washington in 1834, written by Pierre Juzan, says that he is the agent for the family of Tappenahomah now deceased, and he is asking for a patent for the two sections of land located for Tappenahomah at the time of the treaty by Col. Martin. A letter by David Folsom to Thomas McKinney relates to distributions of $6,000 for something. He says he does not have faith in Chief Tapenahumma. "I have not strong confidence in his doing it faithfully if it were placed entirely at has disposal." Another letter by David Folsom refers to the "unmoral conduct and intemperance of the Chief Tapennahomma of the South Dis has been broke of his office", dated October 11, 1828. John Garland replaced Tapennahoma. 28 Sept 1828 to Sec of War I am now in my friend Col. Wards House on my way to see the country pointed out to my nation by your friend Col. McKinney last year. I go to see the country because it is my great fathers request I am chief of the Southern District of this nation in place of my uncle Pushmattahaw whose bones lyes below this earth near your residence. And which I trust his spirit is in a better world than this as you know as well as I that this is a place of continual trouble ... ... "Taphemhoma 5 July 1829 Uncle Tahpemaloomah has fully made up his mind to emigrate to the west of mississippi (looks like 100 will accompany him.) ..... ..... ... ... He would like to start by the 29 of October. I should like to go as an interpreter and I wish you to write to the Sec of war for the appointment for me. Respectfully your friend Pierre Juzan]
  2. Swanton, John (1931). "Source Material for the Social and Ceremonial Life of the Choctaw Indians". Smithsonian Institution Bureau of American Ethnology Bulletin (103).
  3. Handbook of American Indians, 1906
  4. Pack, Ellen. "Pushmataha Great Choctaw Chief". Retrieved November 29, 2006.
  5. "Pushmataha, Choctaw Indian Chief". Access Genealogy: Indian Tribal Records. Retrieved November 29, 2006.
  6. Lincecum, Gideon (1906). "Life of Apushimataha". Mississippi Historical Society Publications. 9: 415–485.
  7. O'Brien, Greg (1999). "Protecting Trade through War: Choctaw Elites and British Occupation of the Floridas". In Martin Daunton and Rick Halpern (ed.). Empire and Others: British Encounters with Indigenous Peoples, 1600–1850. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press. pp. 149–166.
  8. Jones, Charlie; Mike Bouch (November 1987). "Sharing Choctaw History". Bishinik. University of Minnesota. Archived from the original on January 23, 2007. Retrieved November 29, 2006.
  9. O'Brien, Greg (2004). "Pushmataha: Choctaw Warrior, Diplomat, and Chief". Mississippi History NOW. Mississippi Historical Society. Archived from the original on September 25, 2006. Retrieved November 29, 2006.
  10. "Pushmataha". Encyclopædia Britannica Online. 2006. Retrieved November 29, 2006.
  11. Junaluska, Arthur; Vine Deloria, Jr. (1976). "Chief Pushmataha – Response to Tecumseh" (mp3). Great American Indian Speeches, Vol. 1 (Phonographic Disc). Caedmon. Retrieved November 29, 2006.
  12. Lossing, Benson J. (1869). "XXXIV: War Against the Creek Indians.". Pictorial Field-Book of the War of 1812. New York: Harper & Brothers. Retrieved November 30, 2006.
  13. White, Earl. "Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma". Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma. Archived from the original on September 13, 2009. Retrieved February 5, 2008.
  14. William Jennings Bryan, ed. (1906). "Pushmataha to John C. Calhoun". The World's Famous Orations: vol. VIII – America: I (1761–1837). Retrieved November 29, 2006.
  15. [Commercial Advertisor, February 13, 1828, published, "At his residence near the Choctaw Agency, December 23rd last, General Hummingbird, Choctaw Chief, at the advanced age of 75 ...". Source found on www.genealogybank.com, historical newspapers collection. Also found in other newspapers]
  16. Peter James Hudson (March 1939). "Chronicles of Oklahoma". Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma. Retrieved August 14, 2008.
  17. Greg O'Brien (February 6, 2011). "Pushmataha". The Encyclopedia of Alabama. Auburn University. Retrieved July 23, 2011.
  18. Society, Mississippi Historical (July 11, 2017). "Publications of the Mississippi Historical Society". Retrieved July 11, 2017 – via Google Books.
  19. [Holmes County Deeds, book A, p 37]
  20. "Pushmatahaw". quod.lib.umich.edu. Retrieved July 11, 2017.
  21. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on June 13, 2011. Retrieved July 5, 2012., Alabama State papers

Further reading

  • James Taylor Carson, Searching for the Bright Path: The Mississippi Choctaws from Prehistory to Removal (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1999).
  • H. B. Cushman, History of the Choctaw, Chickasaw, and Natchez Indians (originally published 1899; reprinted Norman, Oklahoma: University of Oklahoma Press, 1999).
  • Clara Sue Kidwell, Choctaws and Missionaries in Mississippi, 1818–1918 (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1995).
  • Greg O'Brien, Choctaws in a Revolutionary Age, 1750–1830 (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2005).
  • Richard White,The Roots of Dependency: Subsistence, Environment, and Social Change among the Choctaws, Pawnees, and Navajos (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1983).


By Marco Giardino, Ph.D., and Russell Guerin (2016) http://www.hancockcountyhistoricalsociety.com/history/early-history...

The Choctaws were generally friendly to the early settlers, but a number of letters of W.C.C. Claiborne written between 1801 and 1812 repeatedly state that the Choctaws committed “depredations” against the white people of the Pearl and other areas. Details of their transgressions, however, indicate that their offences were principally involving cattle and hogs, and in one case four barrels of flour and “a deal of meat.” 81 An earlier isolated account of a Choctaw uprising against the French tells of their attack in 1767 on the settlers of Bay St. Louis area, killing their cattle and causing them to escape to Cat Island.82

Pushmataha, the great Choctaw chief, in 1805 signed the Treaty of Mount Dexter, granting lands to the United States. He also represented the Choctaws at an1820 conference leading to Treaty of Doak’s Stand.

In 1811, Tecumseh the great warrior and orator of the Shawnee [Siouan speakers?] nation came south to try to unite his people of the Northwest with the Muscogee Tribes. In this effort, he sought to improve an alliance with the British, who were intent on backing the Indians against the United States.

Tecumseh spent several weeks among the Choctaws, who allowed him to speak before the grand council. Among the Choctaw chiefs in attendance was Pushmataha, who with a majority of like-minded chiefs, chose not to follow Tecumseh. Thus, the Choctaws continued to display their friendship to the government.

Andrew Jackson said that Pushmataha was “the greatest and bravest Indian I have ever known.” Considered a great warrior, he was also known as wise, eloquent, and always “…under all circumstances, the white man’s best friend.83 This did not include the British, however. Pushmataha was one of the three medal-chiefs, and considered to be the “most eloquent speaker in the [Choctaw] nation.84 In the Creek war, Pushmataha led 500 Choctaws against the British. General Ferdinand Claiborne awarded him a regimental uniform, “with gold epaulets, a sword, and silver spurs.” He was given the brevet rank of brigadier general in the U.S. Army. He had meetings with presidents Jefferson and Monroe, Secretary of War Calhoun, General Lafayette, and other distinguished Americans. He spoke Spanish and French as well as English, and his only equal in eloquence was Tecumseh. At death, John Randolph of Virginia eulogized him in the Senate. The Congressional Cemetery in Washington contains the ashes of this great Choctaw Chief. He died proud that neither he nor his people ever “drew bows against the United States.”

Regarding Pushmataha, H.S.Halbert 85 had the following to report to J.F.H


Crawfordville, Lowndes County, Miss. Dec 2

Col. Claiborne

My dear sir. I send you a sketch of Pushmataha which may be of some service to you. It was copied out of an old book. Perhaps every thing contained in the sketch is already familiar to you. If so, no harm done, and no trouble in sending it to you.

In Pickett’s history of Alabama, in the account of the attack on Fort Sinkfield he mentions one of defenders killed, name not recorded. His name however was Stephen Leacey. He was shot through the head by a rifle ball, the ball coming through a port hole. The young man who made the dog charge on the Indians was named Hayden, not Heaton as Pickett has it, full name Isaac Hayden.

There lives near me an old Negro 84 years of age, whom I have known all my life.

This old negro is perhaps the last survivor of the inmates of Fort Madison.

He has a clear recollection of all the events that occurred there and at Fort Sinkfield. He knew Caldas (?), the Negro participant of the canoe fight. He was with the detail under Major Kern that buried the dead at Fort Mims, says that the stench of the dead bodies so intolerable as to induce the most violent vomitings on the part of the men. Says that there was a persimmon tree that stood about ten feet in front of the main gate where the Indians made their first attack, which was terribly riddled with rifle bullets, hundreds of bullets striking that tree. The wagon road coming up to the gate passed by the tree, having the tree on the left coming to the fort. The old man has a clear recollection of all the events of the war which fell under his observation.

I am sorry your book will not be out of press earlier. Times are fresher more than they will be later in the season and agents would have less trouble making their sales. I notice in the Clarion that you may bring out more than a third. Weatherford has many relatives and descendants in Southern Alabama. Would it be a good idea to open a correspondence with him and glean some additional facts about his career and private life?

Very truly your friend, H.S. Halbert

His nephew, Netukacha, who at the time of Indian removal was the chief of the Lower district, succeeded Pushmataha. Because the Choctaws, as stated above, were loyal to the Americans and having difficulties with the British, it is interesting to read in the British report of the War of 1812 that the Choctaws were their allies.


Lawrence Kinnaird, Spain in the Mississippi Valley, 1765-1794, Volume 4. Annual Report of the American Historical Association. 1945 (US Government Printing Office, 1946).

p. 309

POYMUTAHAW to Gayobo de Lehos

[June, 1794]

Second in Command of Said Nation, Tobocaw

Old Friend whin you Sea this think of my White People Our talks was not to Deceive won an other Think them Small trades is Carried on on be Noing to you I have not for Got you But it Seems that you have for Got me it is a long time Sence I Heard from you the Commidander of the Walnut Hils is Carred on a Grate trad with Indians and I Beg of you to Stop The white People is Destrest by the Bad yusage of the Petty trade of that Plase This is All from

Your Old friend and brother


For Manuel Gayosodelemous

Source: Spain in the Mississippi Valley, 1765-1794, Volume 4, by Lawrence Kinnaird



Pushmataha: Choctaw Warrior, Diplomat, and Chief
By Greg O'Brien

Few Choctaws from the early 1800s are better known than Pushmataha. He negotiated several well-publicized treaties with the United States, led Choctaws in support of the Americans during the War of 1812, is mentioned in nearly all histories of the Choctaws, was famously painted by Charles Bird King in 1824, is buried in the Congressional Cemetery in Washington, D.C., and, in April 2001, a new Pushmataha portrait was unveiled to hang in the Hall of Fame of the State of Mississippi in the Old Capitol Museum in Jackson, Mississippi. Early twentieth-century ethnologist John Swanton referred to Pushmataha as the “greatest of all Choctaw chiefs.”1

Despite his seeming familiarity, Pushmataha's life is not as well documented nor as well known as a careful biographer would like. What is known suggests that Pushmataha was an exceptional man and charismatic leader. He had deep roots in the ancient Choctaw world, a world characterized by spiritual power and traditional notions of culture. In addition, Pushmataha effectively confronted a rapidly changing era caused by the ever-expanding European and American presence.

Early life
Nearly all knowledge about Pushmataha's early life comes from the recollections of two men, only one of whom actually remembered meeting Pushmataha. Gideon Lincecum, a physician, philosopher, and naturalist, lived in the Tombigbee River region with his family from 1818 until the mid-1830s. He wrote about his experiences among the Choctaws decades later. Horatio Cushman, the son of Protestant missionaries sent to Mississippi in 1820, published a rambling book in 1899 on the history of the Choctaw, Chickasaw, and Natchez Indians. Cushman's book suffers from an imperfect, and often condescending, understanding of Indian culture.2

Despite this potentially inaccurate information, basic facts about Pushmataha's younger years can be established by fitting what Lincecum and Cushman had to say into our more complete knowledge of Choctaw culture and history. Pushmataha was apparently born around 1764 on the Noxubee River near present-day Macon, Mississippi. According to Lincecum, he involved himself in warfare from an early age, initially against the Creek Indians. The Choctaws and Creeks fought a long war from 1765 until 1777. That would leave Pushmataha at a very young age to participate in that conflict, particularly in the leadership role that Lincecum ascribes to him.3

Great warrior
All Choctaw Indian boys readily participated in war parties as soon as the older men allowed. Warfare was basic to male success; boys did not become men or earn a title until they participated in a successful war party. On the other hand, women held innate spiritual power through their ability to create life through childbirth. Success in war proved to everyone that a Choctaw male had mastered at least a minimum amount of spiritual power, since spiritual protection and performance of special rituals was absolutely necessary to military triumph. Those who excelled as war leaders — such as Pushmataha — were expected to assume larger roles within Choctaw society as diplomats and chiefs. Pushmataha earned his renown as a warrior and war leader in fighting against the Caddo and Osage Indians west of the Mississippi River.

Choctaws had always traveled periodically throughout the lower Mississippi River Valley, but by the 1770s they were forced to travel farther afield for their annual deer hunts. Ever since Britain had become the major European power in the Gulf Coast region after the Seven Years War ended in 1763, hundreds of unregulated fur traders poured into Choctaw country seeking to exchange rum and other European goods with the Southeastern Indians for deerskins. Choctaws thus killed more deer than ever before and quickly depleted the deer herds in their hunting territory east of the Mississippi. As a result, it became necessary for Choctaws to travel to new hunting lands west of the river.

Other Indian groups, such as the Osages and Caddos, already lived in those western lands and they resented the Choctaws intruding into their hunting territories. Because Choctaws, especially Pushmataha and other young men, wanted access to the deer in the west and needed to participate in war in order to become men, sporadic warfare between the Choctaws and groups like the Osages and Caddos continued throughout the late 1700s and early 1800s

Pushmataha's war exploits became famous throughout the lower Mississippi Valley. He killed numerous enemies of the Choctaws, often single-handedly, while escaping injury and capture, and he led other Choctaw warriors in successful attacks. Although the details of Pushmataha's war exploits as portrayed by Lincecum and Cushman stretch believability, there is little doubt that Pushmataha achieved greatness as a warrior. All of these military actions earned the respect of other Choctaws, and several chiefs and spiritual leaders bestowed the title which we know him by today. Pushmataha, or rather “Apushamatahahubi,” means “a messenger of death; literally one whose rifle, tomahawk, or bow is alike fatal in war or hunting.”4

A mystery surrounding Pushmataha is the identity of his parents. They may have been killed by the Creeks or other enemies of the Choctaws when he was young, as Lincecum reported. Most likely they were commoners because Pushmataha expressed uneasiness about his kin ties throughout his life. There existed leading or elite families among the Choctaws, and formal leadership positions were often passed down through the generations of these families. Pushmataha had no such kinship connections, but his exceptional record of achievement based upon the traditional measures of success in war and mastery of spiritual powers meant that he should assume a chiefly position. Even Choctaws who could possibly inherit a chiefly role had to first demonstrate their abilities in war and the spiritual realm. Such accomplished men who had been molded by traditional Choctaw notions of proper behavior could be counted upon to conduct themselves in constructive ways with foreigners and to protect Choctaw interests. Accordingly, such men became diplomats and represented their people in meetings with Europeans, Americans, and other Indians.

Diplomat and chief
As an adult, Pushmataha resided in the Six Towns Division of the Choctaw Confederacy, and it was that division he represented in diplomatic meetings. There existed among the Choctaws three principal geographic and political divisions: the western, eastern, and Six Towns (or southern) divisions. The western division villages were scattered around the upper Pearl River watershed, and the eastern division towns were located around the upper Chickasawhay River and lower Tombigbee River watersheds. The Six Towns were distributed along the upper Leaf River and mid-Chickasawhay River watersheds.

Sometime around 1800 Pushmataha became a leading chief and began playing a major role in negotiations with other peoples, especially the Americans. He quickly developed a well-deserved reputation for his eloquent speaking abilities, and he was able to persuade both Choctaws and Americans with his sharp logic and lyrical speaking style. The first formal treaty with the United States that he took part in was the Fort Confederation meeting in 1802. From that point onward, Pushmataha played an important role in all dealings between the Choctaws and the United States.

When the neighboring Creek Indians, then located in present-day Alabama, killed more than 500 Americans at Fort Mims, Pushmataha assumed his position as war leader. He quickly organized a Choctaw military force to assist General Andrew Jackson in fighting against the Creeks. For that assistance, Jackson was forever grateful, but when the American general returned to Choctaw country in 1820 to negotiate the Treaty of Doak's Stand, which called for Choctaw removal to lands west of the Mississippi River, Pushmataha resisted. The lands in the west (present-day Arkansas) were too poor to support agriculture and hunting, Pushmataha told Jackson. In addition, Pushmataha pointed out that white settlers already lived on those lands. He knew that they would not leave voluntarily simply because the U.S. government had decided that those lands now belonged to the Choctaws.

Pushmataha tried to get a promise from Jackson to evict the white settlers, but this issue was never settled and it brought Pushmataha and other chiefs to Washington D.C. in 1824. They sought compensation for those Arkansas lands that they could never settle because of the large numbers of whites already living there. During the 1824 negotiations, Pushmataha became sick and died. He was buried with full military honors in the Congressional Cemetery in Washington, D.C.

What are we to make of Pushmataha's life? On one level he was the last of his kind: a chief who came to power through traditional means by performing great war deeds and demonstrating his mastery of spiritual powers. He resisted attempts of the United States to take away Choctaw lands. He is often portrayed as culturally conservative and as an opponent of the Protestant missionaries who arrived among the Choctaws beginning in 1818.

A changing Indian world
Like all chiefs of his generation, Pushmataha knew that the Indian world was changing rapidly. He tried to ensure that his offspring would be able to participate in leading roles in that new world. He sent one of his sons, who had already been taught how to speak English and to read and write by American officials, to a missionary school in 1820. Pushmataha, a man who had risen from commoner to great status, attempted to preserve that elite status for his own children. In that new world business skills determined success, while the spiritual powers of Pushmataha's era meant less and less for chiefs and other elites. Thus, Pushmataha represents a major transitional figure in Mississippi history: a man with deep roots in a traditional past who also realized that major changes were required by Choctaws for them to compete on an equal footing with Americans.

Greg O'Brien, Ph.D., is professor of history, University of Southern Mississippi.

Posted July 2001

End notes:
1 John Swanton, Source Material for the Social and Ceremonial Life of the Choctaw Indians (Smithsonian Institution: Bureau of American Ethnology Bulletin no. 103, 1931), 4.

2 Gideon Lincecum, “Life of Apushimataha,” Mississippi Historical Society Publications (1906) 9:415-485; and H. B. Cushman, History of the Choctaw, Chickasaw, and Natchez Indians (originally published in 1899; reprinted Norman, Oklahoma: University of Oklahoma Press, 1999).

3 On the Choctaw-Creek war see Greg O'Brien, “Protecting Trade through War: Choctaw Elites and British Occupation of the Floridas,” Martin Daunton and Rick Halpern, eds., Empire and Others: British Encounters with Indigenous Peoples, 1600-1850 (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1999), 149-166.

4 Swanton, Source Material for the Social and Ceremonial Life of the Choctaw Indians, 121

Further reading
James Taylor Carson, Searching for the Bright Path: The Mississippi Choctaws from Prehistory to Removal (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1999).

H. B. Cushman, History of the Choctaw, Chickasaw, and Natchez Indians (originally published 1899; reprinted Norman, Oklahoma: University of Oklahoma Press, 1999).

Clara Sue Kidwell, Choctaws and Missionaries in Mississippi, 1818-1918 (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1995).

Gideon Lincecum, “Life of Apushimataha,” Mississippi Historical Society Publications (1906) 9:415-485.

Greg O'Brien, Choctaws in a Revolutionary Age, 1750-1830 (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, forthcoming).

John Swanton, Source Material for the Social and Ceremonial Life of the Choctaw Indians (Smithsonian Institution: Bureau of American Ethnology Bulletin no. 103, 1931).

Richard White, The Roots of Dependency: Subsistence, Environment, and Social Change among the Choctaws, Pawnees, and Navajos (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1983).


Curator Note: Much of the narrative of this profile provided below is grounded in fanciful thinking and speculation rather than in fact-based documentation. Please tread carefully and be forewarned.


The legend is that Pushmataha came seemingly into the Choctaw world, like lightning. His father is biologically determined to be from the Royal Gov house of Moore that tied La to SC; perhaps Patrick Moore, Royal Gov SC and, his mother was named Coosah Moore, which the Gov. of TN recorded as being Shikori (i.e. Lumbee). Brigadier General Pushmataha, Chief of the Choctaw Nation was born circa 1764 in Macon, Noxubee, Mississippi. His parents were The Sun Mythical and The Moon Mythical. He was a Brigadier-General of the American army, Chief to the Choctaw Nation, Choctaw Chief/General, Chief of the Choctaw Nation.

Pushmataha married Imachoka / Lunnabaka / Jamesaichikkako. Together they had the following children:
Betsy Moore;
Martha Moore.

Pushmataha married Margaret Alphonse. Together they had the following children:
James Madison Pushmataha;
Unknown Child Pushmataha;
Son - member - MS Band of Choctaw.

Pushmataha 's marriage to Chamnay is testimony addendum to Dancing Rabbit Treaty Wife number 2, Chamnay and property deed work discussed in addendum. Chamnay Red Wing MaryAnn in 1780. Together they had the following children:
Pistikiokonay Pushmataha;
Shepahoomia Running Deer Julia Ann Anderson.

He died on December 24, 1824 in Washington D.C., District of Columbia, United States from pneumonia and was buried in 1824 in Site - R31/41 Congressional Cemetery at Washington.

Chief of Six Towns and the promoted to the Chief of Mississippi Band of Choctaw and did not remove from Mississippi. He was a Brig Gen Pushmataha began his military life as a solider at the age of 13 in a war against the Creek Nation. Pushmataha was buried at The Congressional Cemetery or Washington Parish Burial Ground a historic and active cemetery located at 1801 E Street, SE, in Washington, DC., on the west bank of the Anacostia River. It is the first national cemetery (50 years before Arlington was created in the late 1860s).

Parents: Royal Governor Nuevo Espania "Moore" SNP matches in large numbers of claimants who claim descendancy from Pushmataha, all sharing a common "Moore". Group SNP results of Southern Tuscororan matching immigrant cousins with descendant lines coming into Neshoba District in the era of the Rev War, such was Pushmataha's parents as his mom was NC - named for an extinct tribe and thus they were adopted Choctaw. and thus comes the mythology of coming out of nowhere like lightning. For the Mobilian Farve group, we tested Cousin segments to Lumbee and Southern Tuscororan kin. Our geneatic study is in our file section. We are various lines of descendants of Mushulatubby, Frenchimastvbe', and Pushmataha. Pushmataha's mother Coosah was from the Coosah extinct Siouan tribe and his dad was a Moore. The triangulation of the descendants are matching for the Royal Governor Moore House connected to the Southern Tuscororan area of Patrict Moore who was a Brazillian Slave Traver with William Glover and Simon Farve. We have their records in our file section in our study group's file section at https://www.facebook.com/groups/1480581008621268/
Our Professional Genetic Genealogist is found at https://www.facebook.com/tushanna.corkern DNA Consultants Genetic genealogist- Specializing in adoptees, unknown parentage, and French Colonial ancestors.


The hero of the Choctaws, and without doubt o­ne of the greatest of all American Indians, was A-Push-ma-ta-ha-hu-bi, commonly known as Pushmataha. His full name is said to mean “His arm and all the weapons in his hands are fatal to his foes.” He was born about 1764 in the present State of Mississippi. Little or nothing is known of his ancestry or of his early youth. His parents are supposed to have been killed by the Creeks, which accounted in part for Pushmataha’s hatred for that tribe. When questioned as to his ancestry he generally said, “I am a Choctaw.” In a boastful mood, he o­nce made this poetic statement: “Pushmataha has no ancestors; the sun was his father, the moon, his mother. A mighty storm swept the earth; midst the roar of thunder, the lightning split a mighty oak and Pushmataha stepped forth a full fledged warrior,” especially against the Osages. o­n more than o­ne occasion he pursued these enemies far beyond the western banks of the Great River. He thus became familiar with the land of Oklahoma, where later his people were to come, and knowing its value, he did not, as some others, oppose the removal of the Choctaws from Mississippi.

In personal appearance he was every inch a chief. He was of the purest of Indian blood, six feet, two inches tall and robust in proportion to his height, with form and features finely modeled. His deportment was calm and dignified. The Indians sometimes called him the “Panther’s Claw.” He was by nature a leader among men, and not alone in his own tribe. No Indian of his day was so highly respected by white men, as was Pushmataha. He possessed wonderful powers as an orator. General Sam Dale, the famous Indian fighter, who heard Pushmataha’s appeal against Tecumseh, declared him to be the greatest orator he ever heard. The Indian’s picturesque word for Pushmataha’s flow of language was the “waterfalls.

Pushmataha was ever and constantly a friend of the Americans. Some historians give him credit equal to that of the renowned Andrew Jackson in saving our Southern States to the United States in the War of 1812. The wily Shawnee, Tecumseh, having already united the Indians of the upper Mississippi Valley, came south with the purpose of adding the Muskogean tribes to his confederacy. At a great meeting of the Choctaws and Chickasaws o­n the Tombigbee near the present site of Columbia, Mississippi, Tecumseh hade an earnest and impassioned appeal and had almost won the day, when Pushmataha arose and made his memorable reply, which was so eloquent and so convincing that o­nly thirty warriors of these tribes joined Tecumseh. Therefore, when Jackson led his army against the Creeks in 1813, finally overwhelming them at the battle of Horseshoe Bend, Pushmataha and seven hundred of his warriors rendered efficient and valiant service. And when a year later at New Orleans, the Americans faced the British veterans who had won fame o­n the fields of Europe, Pushmataha, now a brigadier-general of the American army, led eight hundred brave Choctaws to share in Jackson’s triumph.

Pushmataha spent the remainder of his life working in the interest of his people. When the treaty of 1820 was negotiated, which provided for the sale of their lands in Mississippi and the eventual removal to Oklahoma. Pushmataha insisted that a large sum be set aside as a perpetual school fund for the education of Choctaw youth. His comment o­n this treaty was almost a prophecy: “We have acquired from the United States her best remaining territory west of the Mississippi, and this treaty provides a perpetual fund for the education of our children. I predict that in a few generations its benefits will enable the Choctaws to fight in the white man’s armies and to hold office in the white man’s government.” It may be stated, parenthetically, that for the past twenty years the Choctaw section of Oklahoma has been represented in Congress by a statesman of Indian blood.

In 1824, Pushmataha went to Washington o­n business for the Choctaws, the last service he ever rendered. In his address to the Secretary of War o­n this occasion he said. “I can boast and tell the truth that none of the Choctaws ever drew bow against the United States. We have held the hand of the United States so long that our nails are long like birds claws.”

While in Washington he contracted pneumonia, and died December 24, 1824. General Jackson visited him in his last illness and asked what he could do for him. Pushmataha replied, “When I die, let the big gun be fired over me.” He was given the funeral of a general of the United States army and his remains buried in the Congressional Cemetery at Washington, where his modest monument may be seen today.

The life and character of Pushmataha has been thus summed up; “A man with intuitive conception of honor and morals. A great general, brave and intrepid, a renowned orator, wise in counsel, a safe law giver, loyal in friendship and possessing a notable rugged honesty.” Any man, white or red, might well be proud of such a tribute!

During Removal

Nitakechi or Nitukechi 1830-1834

New Territory

Nitakechi 1834 - 1838

Pierre Juzan 1841 - 1846

Isaac Folsom 1841 - 1846

Nitakechi Died

Silas Fisher 1846 - 1850

George Folsom 1850 - 1854

David McCoy 1854 - 1857

Following is this account: In the early autumn months of 1824 three chiefs of the Choctaw Nation came together in the Mississippi Territory to plan a journey to Washington City to protest violations of the Treaty of Doak’s Stand. These Chiefs were Apuckshunnubbe, Pushmataha and Moshulatubbee

http://military.wikia.com/wiki/Pushmataha mentions the Moore seuir named children of Brig Gen Pushmataha began his military career at age 13 and was always on the Whig side of events and always fighting Tories. Andrew Jackson needed his help, not the other way around. His Moore sir named children mentioned in the Dancing Rabbit Treaty (along with his first wife's daughter of no last name) say to me he was leaving behind some Moore for legit record and the Treaty Folks only wrote that as the one set of kids names and that is probably why no one knows where Pushmataha's parents came from; but, Moore is a very prominent name throughout the SE and very much especially to the Southern Tuscororan; would explain why Pushmataha was very good at not needing a translator and how his family fit in with the Choctaw of Natchez, since that town was built by Spanish Moore who were the MOORE spreading that seuirnamed family, of J1 ydna all over the S.E. Don't believe me, check out the 16 pages of J1 ydna and the mean average name is Moore and they are in everyone's ancestry it seems. EVERYONE seems to have a common Moore. The only way we will know is the only male descendant of Pushmataha had a living male descendant and gets tested. I think it would come back as a Col War dad fighting under Pugh and that means Southern Tuscororan. We would have to have a the records starting when Pushmataha was just 13, which we can not discount his parent showing up and being adopted by the Simon Farve and Rebecca Ousten multiple and frequent NOLA Slave Port buy and sells. Pushmataha's folks may have been among the first Northern Brazillian indigenous sales starting 1757 and ending 1831. If that is true, Simon would have been a likely pick for Pushmataha's biological daughter, as his first consort. Don't say it could not happen. Think of Sallie Hemmings having 6 kids for Thomas Jefferson. I am just sayin' that with 8500 slaves starting to wave in and Simon is buying, anything is possible, The Choctaw know they adopted his parents, so it is possible.

Apushmataha (Push) was a District Chief of the Choctaw Nation and became Principal Chief in 1805. He was a friend and drinking buddy of Andrew Jackson, who made him a US General in the War of 1812. He died in Washington DC on Dec. 24, 1824, after a short illness. Andrew Jackson sat at his death bed. Push was buried with full military honors in the Old Congressional Cemetery in DC, the only Indian Chief so honored

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Pushmataha, Principal Chief of the Choctaw Nation's Timeline

Choctaw Nation Territory, New France (presently Macon, Noxubee County)
6 Towns - Mobile, Nuevo Espania til 1795
Natchez, Nuevo Espania
Mississippi, United States
December 24, 1824
Age 60
Washington, District of Columbia, United States