Federally recognized as the Chickasaw Nation, the tribes were originally located in the states of Alabama, Mississippi and Tennessee. The religious and cultural beliefs of the Chickasaw tribes were similar to their neighboring tribes. The tribes spoke similar languages, their society traced ancestry through the mother’s bloodline, and their political systems were similar. Many of the religious beliefs were identical as well. Today, the Chickasaw nation believes in Christianity through a Protestant domination.
Chickasaw people believed that they, as well as their neighboring tribes, emerged from the earth through a mound called Productive Mountain. The people believed that Creeks came first from the mount followed by the Cherokees, Chickasaws and finally the Choctaws. Chickasaws believed in single supreme creator called Ababinili. However, they also believed that the sun was the ultimate spiritual power as it created and sustained life. They also believed in lesser spirits of clouds, sky, witches and evil spirits.
Green Corn Festival
An important religious ceremony was the Green Corn festival. The ceremony was celebrated with dancing, fasting and feasting. It was a festival of thanksgiving for the New Year as well as a means of self-purification. Marked in late summer when corn can be roasted and eaten, the festival centered around a summer cleaning, a two-day fast and the relighting of the ceremonial fire.
The Chickasaw had a traditional marriage system. The belief in a monogamous marriage was serious among the families as adultery was viewed as a disgrace. Widows were expected to remain in morning for four years after a husband’s death. Marriage tradition expected the young groom had to obtain consent from the bride and her mother before marriage. The ceremony involved both sides of the family.
Chickasaws believe in life after death. They believe that after death, a person who has had a good life is rewarded in heaven. Those individuals who followed an evil path continue to wander in the land of the witches. When a Chickasaw dies, the body is buried under a house and the face is painted red. Believing that west was the path to judgment, the body was placed in a sitting position facing west. As with other cultures who believe in life after death, individual possessions were placed around the body.
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