Before the Chickasaws were removed to lands in Oklahoma in the 1800s, the heart of the Chickasaw Nation was located east of the Mississippi River in the upper watershed of the Tombigbee River in what is today northeastern Mississippi. Their lands had been called "splendid and fertile" by French governor Bienville at the time they were being coveted by early European settlers. The people were also termed "splendid" and described by documents of the 1700s as "tall, well made, and of an unparalleled courage. . . . The men have regular features, well shaped and neatly dressed; they are fierce, and have a high opinion of themselves."
The progenitors of the sociopolitical entity termed by European chroniclers progressively as Chicasa, Chicaca, Chicacha, Chicasaws, and finally Chickasaw may have migrated from west of the Mississippi River in prehistoric times. Or migrating people may have joined indigenous populations. Despite this longevity in their ancestral lands, the Chickasaw were the only one of the original "five civilized tribes" to leave no remnant community in the Southeast at the time of removal.
Atkinson thoroughly researches the Chickasaw Indians, tracing their history as far back as the documentation and archaeological record will allow. He historicizes from a Native viewpoint and outlines political events leading to removal, while addressing important issues such as slave-holding among Chickasaws, involvement of Chickasaw and neighboring Indian tribes in the American Revolution, and the lives of Chickasaw women.
Splendid Land, Splendid People will become a fundamental resource for current information and further research on the Chickasaw. A wide audience of librarians, anthropologists, historians, and general readers have long awaited publication of this important volume.