THE CLAY HILLS 359 STEAMBOAT ON THE TOMBIGBEE Beginning in the early 1800s, the Tombigbee River was a watery highway for trading. Fur pelts, cotton, logs, and passengers traveled via the steamboats connecting Mississippi cities like Columbus with ports on the Gulf of Mexico. PHOTO COURTESY OF MISSISSIPPI DEPARTMENT OF ARCHIVES AND HISTORY, COOPER POSTCARD COLLECTION by 1819. Kingsbury and his wife then founded another mission in the eastern Clay Hills in the future Oktibbeha County in 1821. The Mayhew Mission also started with a school that initially drew twelve students, but then grew into a larger complex that included a church that was incorporated into the Tombigbee Presbytery in 1830. Other missionaries, led by southerner Rev. Thomas Stuart, worked among the Chickasaws during the 1820s. In the years before Indian Removal, these missions were important centers for cultural and commercial exchange among the diverse inhabitants of the Clay Hills. But still, the United States did not own title to the lands of the Clay Hills, and this thwarted the ambitions of American land speculators and settlers to obtain lands at a time when the cotton economy was taking firm hold in other areas of the state. Frustrated with the situation, the United States and Mississippi officials used various means including bribes, threats, blackmail, and eventually the outright extension of state authority over their territory, to pressure the Chickasaws and Choctaws to cede their lands. In the 1820 Treaty of Doak’s Stand, the Choctaws surrendered a large section of their territory in west-central Mississippi. Winning control of the Clay Hills took another decade. It was not until the presidency of Andrew Jackson and the passage of the 1830 Indian Removal Act providing for the deportation of southeastern Indians to areas west of the Mississippi that Choctaw and Chickasaw leaders finally ceded their lands in two major deals with the United States. In the 1830 Treaty of Dancing Rabbit Creek, negotiated at a site on Noxubee County and named for the rabbits they hunted there, the Choctaws exchanged title to their remaining Mississippi lands in exchange for new lands in present-day Oklahoma, as well as supplies and equipment. They had three years to move. The Chickasaws soon followed suit in the 1832 Treaty of Pontotoc in which they, too, ceded their lands in northeast Mississippi. They began moving west in 1837. For the country and state, these treaties were huge victories because the cessions finally granted them the formal control of the remaining lands in the state. For these two native groups, however, the cessions were huge losses. Ironically, were negotiated by native leaders, many of mixed Native American white ancestry, who often put their own interests above those of their people. This situation was