The Choctaw – Part 4
Although nearly every chief and elite Choctaw family pursued this basic outline of economic reform in the early nineteenth century, it did not mean they agreed with one another on other important issues. Factionalism ran rampant among Choctaw leaders as some of them sought to enhance their own position and power at the expense of more traditionally minded chiefs like Mushulatubbee.
Even though Mushulatubbee realized the deerskin trade was nearing its end, he remained devoted to a traditional political arrangement. Tradition required that leadership positions be inherited through the female line, that each of the three divisions retain autonomy, and that chiefs distributed goods and favors to their family and friends. His opponents, such as David Folsom and his family, claimed the right to lead even though they had never demonstrated their mastery of spiritual powers through war exploits or other traditional means.
Folsom was a son of deerskin trader Nathaniel Folsom and his Choctaw wife, and a distant cousin of Mushulatubbee. His wife, Rhoda Nail, was also the offspring of a European trader and Choctaw mother. Mushulatubbee’s opponents’ claim to power rested wholly within the material realm. These aspiring rulers sought a constitutional government that established a council of chiefs over the entire nation, supported private property ownership, initiated a new police force, and promoted inheritance through the male line.