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:

  • Great Mississippi River Balloon Race

    October 19 @ 8:00 am - October 21 @ 5:00 pm

    The Great Mississippi River Balloon Race is the most colorful annual event in Natchez, with gorgeous hot air balloons filling the skies over the river as local and national talent fill the air with live music.

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  • 7th Annual Delta Hot Tamale Festival

    October 20 @ 8:00 am - October 20 @ 5:00 pm

    Proclaimed as the “Hot Tamale Capital of the World” this unique festival features multiple tamale vendors, music, eating contest, famous chefs and much more.

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  • Sanderson Farms Championship

    October 22 @ 8:00 am - October 28 @ 5:00 pm

    A great annual stop on the PGA Tour. Enjoy the hospitality, the serenity of the Country Club of Jackson, the pristine course, great food and great people.

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