North American Indian people living mainly in Oklahoma, U.S. They speak a Muskogean language that is closely related to that of the Chickasaw. Before colonization, the Choctaw lived in what is now southeastern Mississippi. They were among the most skillful of the southeastern farmers, usually having surplus produce to sell or trade. They also fished, gathered nuts and wild fruits, and hunted deer and bear. Their principal religious ceremony was the Busk (Green Corn Festival), a first-fruits and new-fires rite celebrated at midsummer. In the 19th century, pressure by colonial cotton growers forced them to cede five million acres, and most Choctaw were removed to Indian Territory (Oklahoma). Choctaw descendants numbered more than 159,000 in the early 21st century.