North American Indian people living mainly in Oklahoma, U.S. Their language, Chickasaw, is a Muskogean language closely related to that of the Choctaw. Before colonization, the Chickasaw inhabited what are now Kentucky, Tennessee, northern Mississippi, and Alabama. At that time, they were a seminomadic people whose dwellings were distributed along rivers rather than clustered in villages. They traced descent through the maternal line and frequently intermarried with other tribes. The supreme deity was associated with the sky, sun, and fire. In the 1830s they were forcibly removed to Indian Territory (Oklahoma). Chickasaw descendants numbered more than 38,000 in the early 21st century.