Choctaw Law Forbidding White-Indian Marriage

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Of the Choctaws regulating the marriage of white men to the Choctaw women:

Whereas, the Choctaw Nation is being filled up with white persons of worthless characters by so-called marriages to the great injury of the Choctaw people.

Section 1st. Be it enacted by the General Council of the Choctaw Nation assembled: That the peace and prosperity of the Choctaw people require that any white man or citizen of the United States, or of any foreign government, desiring to marry a Choctaw woman, citizen of the Choctaw Nation, shall be and is hereby required to obtain a license for the same, from any of the Circuit Clerks or Judges of a Court of Record, and make oath, or satisfactory showing to such Clerk or Judge, that he has not a surviving wife from whom he has not been lawfully divorced, and unless such information be freely furnished to the satisfaction of the Clerk or Judge no license shall issue.

Section 2nd. Be it further enacted: That every white man or person applying for a license as provided in preceding section of this act, shall before obtaining the same, be required to present to the said Clerk or Judge a certificate of good moral character, signed by at least ten respectable Choctaw citizens by blood, who shall have been acquainted with him at least twelve months immediately preceding the signing of such certificate.

3rd. Be it further enacted, before any license as herein provided shall be issued; the person applying shall be, and is hereby required to pay to the Clerk or Judge, the sum of twenty-file dollars, and be also required to take the following-oath: I do solemnly swear that I will honor, defend and submit to the Constitution and Laws of the Choctaw Nation, and will neither claim nor seek from the United States Government, or from the Judicial Tribunals thereof any protection, privilege or redress incompatible with the same, as guaranteed to the Choctaw Nation by the treaty stipulations enter ed between them, so help me God.

Sec. 4th. Marriages contracted under the provisions of this act, shall be solemnized as provided by the laws of this Nation or otherwise null and void.

Sec. 5th. No marriages between a citizen of the United States, or any foreign Nation, and a female citizen of this Nation, entered into within the limits of this Nation, except hereinbefore authorized and provided, shall be legal, and every person who shall engage and assist in solemnizing such marriage, shall upon conviction before the Circuit Court of the District of this Nation, be fined fifty dollars, and it shall be the duty of the prosecuting attorney of the District in which said person resides to prosecute such per son before the Circuit Court, and one-half of all fines arising under this act, shall be equally divided between the sheriff and prosecuting attorney.

Sec. 6th. Every person performing the marriage ceremony under the authority of a license provided for herein, shall be required to attach a certificate to the back of the license and return it to the person in whose behalf it was is sued, who shall within thirty days there from place the same in the hands of the Circuit Clerk, whose duty it shall be to record the same, and return it to the owner.

Section 7th. Be it further enacted: that should any man or woman, a citizen of the United States, or of any foreign country, become a citizen of the Choctaw Nation by inter marriage and be left a widow or widower, shall continue to enjoy the rights of citizenship, unless he or she shall marry a white man or white woman, a citizen of the United States, or of any foreign government, as the case may be, having no rights of Choctaw citizenship by blood; in that case, all his or her rights acquired under the provision of this act shall cease.

Section 8th. Every person who shall lawfully marry under the provision of this acts, and after abandons his wife, shall forfeit every right of citizenship and shall be considered intruders and removed from this Nation by order of the principal Chief.

Section 9th. Be it further enacted; that this act take effect and be in force from and after its passage.

Proposed by Isham Walker.
Passed the House, November 6, 1875, J. White, speaker.
Passed the Senate, November 9, 1875, J. B. Moore, President Senate.

Approved, November 9, 1875, Coleman Cole, P. C., Choctaw Nation.

I hereby certify that the foregoing act in relation to white men marrying an Indian woman, or white woman marrying, e. c. is a true and correct copy from the Original Bill now on file in my office. In testimony whereof I have hereunto set my hand and affixed the seal of the Choctaw Nation.

This the 9th day of October 1884.

Thompson McKinney
National Secretary Choctaw Nation.

It no doubt would have been better for the Choctaws, if they had strictly adhered to a resolution drawn up and adopted in an ancient council of their tribe. A white man at an early day, came into their country, and in the course of time married a Choctaw girl and as a natural result, a child was born. Soon after the arrival of the little stranger, (the first of its type among them), a council was called to consider the propriety of permitting white men to marry the women of the Choctaws. If it was permitted, they argued, the whites would become more numerous and eventually destroy their national characteristics. Therefore it was determined to stop all future marriages between the Choctaws and the White Race, and at once, ordered the white man to leave their country, and the child killed. A committee was appointed to carry the decision into execution, yet felt reluctant to kill the child. In the meantime, the mother, hearing of the resolution passed by the council, hid the child, and when the committee arrived they failed to find it, and willingly reported that the Great Spirit had taken it away. The mother kept it concealed for several weeks, and then secretly brought it back one night, and told her friends the next morning that the Great Spirit had returned during the night with her child and placed it by her side as she slept. The committee had previously, decided, how ever, that if ever the child returned it might live; but if it never came back, they then would know that the Great Spirit had taken it. The boy was ever afterwards regarded as being under the special care of the Great Spirit, and be came a chief of their Nation. The law was repealed; the father recalled and adopted as one of the tribe; and thus the custom of adopting the white man originated and has so continued from that day to this so affirms one of their ancient traditions, those Indian caskets filled with documents from the remote past, but which have long since passed into the region of accepted fables.



MLA Source Citation:

Cushman, Horatio Bardwell. History Of The Choctaw, Chickasaw and Natchez Indians. Greenville, Texas: Headlight Printing House. 1899 AccessGenealogy.com. Web. 25 November 2014. http://www.accessgenealogy.com/native/choctaw-laws.htm - Last updated on Apr 20th, 2014


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