Live Oak Choctaws working toward federal recognition - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

Live Oak Choctaws working toward federal recognition

The Indian Removal Act in 1830 drove many of the Native Americans out of South Mississippi. (Photo source: WLOX) The Indian Removal Act in 1830 drove many of the Native Americans out of South Mississippi. (Photo source: WLOX)
The Vancleave Live Oak Choctaws are trying to make sure that history isn't lost. (Photo source: WLOX) The Vancleave Live Oak Choctaws are trying to make sure that history isn't lost. (Photo source: WLOX)
VANCLEAVE, MS (WLOX) -

A Native American tribe on the Coast is trying to take the next step in recognition in a story of heritage.

The Vancleave Live Oak Choctaws are trying to make sure their history isn't lost.

"What our history means is keeping our ancestors alive and the beliefs of our people and our language," said Monica Holloman; who goes by her Choctaw name, Mosquito Hawk.

The Indian Removal Act in 1830 drove many of the Native Americans out of South Mississippi. The tribe's bloodline stems from the few who stayed.

Now, they're working toward their federal recognition with the Bureau of Indian Affairs.

"We're state-recognized. We're the only state-recognized tribe in Mississippi," said Holloman.

So far, the road toward federal recognition has been lined with a handful of municipal and county certifications. Only three Coast cities and one county remain on the recognition to-do list: Gautier, Waveland, Biloxi and Harrison County.

"This is part of what we're trying to show that we are moving forward. We're proud of our tribe and where we come from," said Bucky Waltman; also known as Rolling Thunder.

Terry Ladnier, who goes by White Eagle, says federal recognition would open doors for the tribe. According to Ladnier, his ancestors suffered through years of being treated like second-class citizens.

"It's giving our people maybe an opportunity to come out and to start making something of themselves, and moving forward and being recognized," said Ladnier.

For the Choctaws, moving forward is a way of reserving their heritage and the pride that comes with it.

"We're still Indian, and we're still here, and we haven't went anywhere," said Ladnier. "We're proud to be Indian and we'll remain Indians for the rest of our life."

Federal recognition with the Bureau of Indian Affairs would provide several services for the tribe, including grant and program opportunities.

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