The changing face of the Indian Nations
By 1830, most of the Southern Indian Tribes were settled in Oklahoma, many traveling the Trail of Tears. There was a mixture of different Indian cultures. The Choctaws, Cherokees, Creeks, Seminoles, and Chickasaws were settled in eastern Oklahoma. These comprised the "Five Civilized Tribes", so called because of their adoption of many American and European ways. Many were educated, ran businesses and were slaveholders.
The Wichitas, Caddoes, Comanches, Kiowas, and Plains Apaches lived in western Oklahoma. In early days, Frenchmen had lived among the Wichitas and Caddoes, who adopted some of the European ways and many were farmers or traders. The Comanches, Kiowas and Plains Apaches were buffalo hunters, skilled horsemen, and fierce fighters, but did not adopt the ways of the white man.
In an 1830 map of the land that is now Oklahoma, Indian Territory was divided into three Indian Nations. The northern third was the Cherokee Nation, central Oklahoma was the Creek Nation and the southern third, except for Greer county area in the southwest corner of the state, was Choctaw Nation.
The Seminoles accepted a home with the Creeks in 1833, thus changing central Oklahoma to Creek-Seminole Nation.
When the Chickasaws agreed to settle with the Choctaws in 1837, the southern part was changed to Choctaw-Chickasaw Nation.
What is now the "Pan Handle" of Oklahoma was still under Mexican control in 1830. In 1836 "No Man's Land" came under Texas control, until 1850 when Texas relinquished the land to the United States. There was a dispute between Texas and the U. S. Government over Greer county, which Texas claimed as theirs.
Between 1855 and 1866, many changes in the land occured, increasing the Indian Nations from three to five. These were the Cheroke, Seminole, Creek, Chickasaw, and Choctaw Nations. The Quapaw and Seneca were assigned land in the far northeast corner. The southwest portion of the state was called the Leased District, home for the tribes of western Oklahoma.
Again, many changes occured between 1866 and 1889. No Man's Land was still unassigned to any state or territory. The land was now divided between the Cherokee, Quapaw, Seneca, Seminole, Creek, Chickasaw, Choctaw, Osage, Kaw, Cheyenne, Arapho, Wichita, Caddo, Comanche, Kiowa, Apache, Iowa, Kickapoo, Potawatomie, Shawnee, Sac, Fox, Peoria, Modoc, Ottowa, Wyondette, Tonkawa, Ponca, Oto, and Missouri tribes.
On May 2, 1890, No Man's Land was added to Oklahoma Territory.
On March 16, 1896, Greer County was attached to Oklahoma by decision of the United States Supreme Court.
On April 22, 1889, the Unassigned Lands, a 2,000,000 acre tract of land in the center of Indian Territory, were opened by Run. Over 50,000 settlers rushed to claim about 10,000 claims of 160 acres each. Nearly 1,000 Blacks, mostly from the South, participated in the run. Many obtained homesteads, with most settling east of Guthrie. Langston became an all Black town.
On Sept. 22, 1891, part of the state, mostly in central Oklahoma, was opened for land run and allotments. This was the Iowa, Potawatomie-Shawnee, Tonkawa, and Sac-Fox lands. This allowed for settlement of the surplus lands of these areas.
In 1892, Pawnee lands were opened by allotment.
April 19, 1892, Cheyenne and Arapaho lands opened by Run. About 25,000 people raced for homesteads in the surplus lands of the Cheyenne and Arapaho tribes.
The Cherokee Outlet opened by Run on Sept. 16, 1893. Over 100,000 folks made the run, being the largest in history. This is the run depicted in the movies and what most people think of when "Oklahoma Land Runs" are mentioned. This run did not include the area in Kansas known as the "Cherokee Strip".
Kickapoo lands opened by Run May 23, 1895.
Wichita-Caddo and Comanche-Kiowa-Apache surplus lands by Lottery June 9 to August 6, 1901, with about 165,000 potential homesteaders registered. A drawing was held for 15,000 homesteads. Some of the Kiowa-Comanche land were not available for settlement. These included 56,000 acres for Fort Sill Military Reservation, 58,000 acres for the Wichita Mountain Forest Reserve, 480,000 acres for the Big Pasture reserve (reserved as a grazing tract for the Kiowas and Comanches).
Ponca, Kaw and Oto-Missouri reservations by Allotment in 1904. Federal Officials sold 51,000 acres of surpluss lands after the allotments were made.
In 1906, Osage Reservation Lands opened by Allotment.
Big Pasture Lands opened by auction with sealed bids in December 1906
The settled lands of Indian Territory became Oklahoma Territory. Greer County and the panhanle were added to Oklahoma Territory.
In 1907, with a population of about 1,500,000, the Twin Territories set an election for Sept. 17, 1907 to vote on candidates for public office and the state constitution. President Theodore Roosevelt signed the Oklahoma Statehood Proclamation and on the same day, the new Governor, Charles Haskell, launched the new state government.
Bibliography: Arrell M. Gibson, The Oklahoma Story University of Oklahoma Press, Norman, 1978
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