This evocative story of the Choctaws is told through the lives of two remarkable leaders, Taboca and Franchimastabé, during a period of revolutionary change, 1750-1830. Both men achieved recognition as warriors in the eighteenth century but then followed very different paths of leadership. Taboca was a traditional Choctaw leader, a "prophet-chief" whose authority was deeply rooted in the spiritual realm. The foundation of Franchimastabé's power was more externally driven, resting on trade with Europeans and American colonists and the acquisition of manufactured goods. Franchimastabé responded to shifting circumstances outside the Choctaw nation by pushing the source of authority in novel directions, straddling spiritual and economic power in a way unfathomable to Taboca. The careers of these leaders signal a watershed moment in Choctaw history – the receding of a traditional mystically oriented world and the dawning of a new market-oriented one.
At once engaging and informative, Choctaws in a Revolutionary Age, 1750–1830 highlights the efforts of a nation to preserve its integrity and reform its strength in an increasingly complicated, multicultural world.
Greg O'Brien is an associate professor of history at the University of Southern Mississippi.
2002 McLemore Prize, sponsored by the Mississippi Historical Society, winner