Joyce Ann Robinson Bell
(b.1936) lives in Ripley in Lauderdale County
Ripley Choctaw beaded necklace (detail)
size 10 glass seed beads, barrel clasp, felt, plastic and leather, 18 x 3 x .5 inches, 2004.50.9
A standard size 12 bead needle was used to sew on the glass seed beads. A plastic coffee can lid was cut and sandwiched between felt and leather to give the medallion a firm backing. Some members of the Choctaw community use cardboard instead of plastic, but the cardboard does not withstand weather as well.
The Ripley Choctaw migrated from a reservation in Philadelphia, Mississippi to the Golddust region in the 1950’s. Golddust is positioned on the edge of the Mississippi River, just a few miles west of Ripley, TN. The Choctaw were sharecroppers so this was a purely economic migratory move. In 1976, after the decline in the labor force due to agricultural mechanization, they began to move into Ripley or back to the reservation in Philadelphia. Today, only a few Choctaw remain in the Golddust region. The Ripley Choctaw have been recognized by the U. S. Government’s Bureau of Indian Affairs as an independent band of Indians, but they still maintain membership in the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians in Philadelphia. Currently, there are around 300 Choctaw individuals living in the West Tennessee area that includes Gates, Halls, Henning, Memphis, and Ripley.