Religious Beliefs. Choctaw traditional religion was largely unrecorded before early nineteenth-century Christian missionaries influenced traditional practices. The Choctaw maintain a deep faith in supernatural forces linking humans and other living creatures. The importance of maintaining harmony with nature, fellowmen, and the supernatural world is central to Choctaw beliefs. The status of a supreme being in traditional Choctaw religion prior to the spread of Christianity is not clear. Their belief in numerous animal and anthropomorphic spirits who influenced human affairs continued, however, after the coming of Christianity. Today the Baptist denomination predominates among Choctaw in Oklahoma and Mississippi.
Religious Practitioners. In aboriginal times, the influence of Choctaw prophets and doctors was considerable, and the belief in witchcraft was strong. By the nineteenth century, the influence of Christian Choctaw pastors was important in most Choctaw communities in Oklahoma and Mississippi.
Ceremonies. Choctaw ceremonies were similar to other Southeastern tribes, with the Green Corn ceremonies being most important. Observers noted that the Choctaw held fewer religious ceremonies and more social dances than their neighbors. Both dances and ceremonies were closely associated with the very popular stickball game similar to lacrosse.
Arts. In addition to their industrial arts, the Choctaw were well known for singing and storytelling. In addition to traditional music, the Choctaw enjoy country music.
Medicine. The Choctaw believe serious persistent illnesses to be a product of spiritual evil often associated with witchcraft. Curing consisted of herbal medicines, ritual purifications, and the enlistment of spirit helpers to drive out evil forces. Western clinical medicine is generally used today, but native Choctaw doctors are still consulted.
Death and Afterlife. Death, like disease, could be the result of either natural or supernatural forces. Choctaw believed in an afterworld to which spirits of the dead go and in which individuals experience reward or punishment depending on their life on earth. Funeral ceremonies are the most important life cycle ritual.