Native American Heritage

Though many people are familiar with places throughout our state that hold Native American names — including Yalobusha, Itawamba and Mississippi itself — few realize just how many native peoples made their home in our state. Many historians agree that the area now known as Mississippi was home to a greater variety of indigenous tribes than any other southeastern state. Up into the 1700s — when recordkeeping of the region began — local tribes included the Acolapissa, Biloxi and Pascagoula tribes on the Gulf Coast; the Bayougoula, Houma and Natchez tribes on the lower Mississippi; and the Chakchiuma, lbitoupa, Koroa, Ofogoula, Taposa, Tiou, Tunica and Yazoo tribes on the Yazoo River in the Mississippi Delta. The Choctaw inhabited the east central part of the state, while the Chickasaw dwelled in the north and northeast. The original Mississippians were most likely the Choctaw, who date back to the early 1500s. The Choctaw were the most populous by far and remain so to this day.

The Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians, descendants of Choctaws who refused to leave their homeland after the Treaty of Dancing Rabbit Creek, still live near Philadelphia, Mississippi. Today, the Choctaw Indian Reservation covers 35,000 acres of tribal lands in ten Mississippi counties, and Choctaw is still the first language learned in the home. And, while maintaining such proud traditions, the Mississippi Choctaws have stepped into the future with their own tribal-owned industries.

Visitors to the region can immerse themselves in Choctaw culture by stopping by the Choctaw Heritage Museum or attending the annual Choctaw Indian Fair, which is held every summer in July. This regionally renowned event is host to the World Champion Stickball Games and includes a celebration of tribal music, crafts and traditions.

If you want to come face-to-face with the most impressive landmarks of the ancient past, plan a visit to Mississippi’s mound sites, showcasing well-preserved, Native American mounds built of earth. There are 11 sites across the state. For a full listing, visit www.nps.gov/nr/travel/mounds.

Be sure to check out:

  • 6th Annual Delta Hot Tamale Festival

    October 19 - October 21

    The Delta Hot Tamale Festival is a fun-filled three-day event that celebrates local and regional artists, musicians, and tamale makers as well as some of the South’s most influential chefs and writers. This year looks to be our biggest and best year yet with some of your favorite chefs and authors returning form last year …

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  • Great Mississippi River Balloon Race

    October 20 - October 22

    Join us for the best festival in Mississippi! Held on the grounds of the beautiful and historic Rosalie Mansion, on bluffs high above the Mississippi River.  Live, world-class musical entertainment keeps your feet moving while over 50 hot air balloons drift silently overhead. An on-site carnival and an arts and crafts market make this one …

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  • Native American Days 2017

    October 25 - October 27

    Three-day celebration of Southeastern Native American and colonial-era Euro American cultures in Mississippi, including traditional dance, song and storytelling presentations by Native Americans, colonial-era food, arts and crafts, Native American games and ancient weapons demonstrations. October 25-27.

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  • 39th Annual Peter Anderson Arts & Crafts Festival

    November 4 - November 5

    The Peter Anderson Arts & Crafts Festival was created to honor master potter, Peter Anderson, original potter of Shearwater Pottery, founded in 1928, and to celebrate the arts community. The festival aids in the economic development and growth of what has become Ocean Springs today. The festival is presented by Blue Moon via F.E.B. Distributing. …

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  • Cirque du Soleil presents Varekai

    November 29 @ 7:30 pm - November 29 @ 11:00 pm

    Varekai is a critically-acclaimed production that has wowed almost 10 million people worldwide since it first premiered in Montreal in 2002. Since then, Varekai has visited more than 180 cities in 35 different countries around the world. In 2014, Varekai started off a new tour in an arena format. Written and directed by Dominic Champagne, this production pays tribute to …

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