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Native American Migrations To Oklahoma & Indian Territories

If you have a tradition of Native American ancestry but don't know which Nation or Tribe was involved, you can sometimes focus your search by learning about the Native American groups who were in a given area at the time your ancestors lived there.  

This page was originally developed for the Sac & Fox Agency (covering the Absentee Shawnee, Iowa, Kickapoo, Pottawatomie, and Sac & Fox), so still has a disproportionate share of information about them, but it is gradually being expanded to cover the entire continental United States.  Clickable links are to the corresponding maps.

1687. The Iroquois massacred the Miamis near present-day Chicago Illinois.

1700  Britain controlled the eastern coast, while France held the Mississippi Valley and Spain had Florida and the Great Southwest.  This map shows which country controlled each area, not who lived there.

1701.  The Iroquois Wars ended with a peace agreement between Iroquois Confederation on one side and the French & their Indian allies on the other.  The French concentrated their new missions in Michigan and Illinois and invited their allies to settle there, including many like the Kickapoo, Mesquackie (Fox), Miami, Ottawa, Pottawatomie and Sauk, who were later relocated to what is now Oklahoma.  

1711-1712.  After war with settlers, the Tuscarora moved north out of North Carolina to become the sixth nation of the Iroquois League.

1712-1736.  The Fox Wars continued around the Great Lakes for 25 years, with shifting alliances and inconclusive results except for an exodus of most other tribes from the area.  

1747.  Following a Huron uprising against the French, the Huron and Miami left Michigan for the Ohio Valley and allied with the British.

1755.  The combined forces of the French, Canadian militia and a multitribal army trounced the British at Fort Duquesne killing two-thirds of their men and capturing horses and supplies.  Tradition has it that this is where the Pottawatomi acquired their first horses.

1763.  At the Treaty of Paris, France ceded New France to England.  Pontiac then led the tribes of the Great Lakes region in rebellion against the English.  King George III issued the Indian Proclamation Line that ran along the crest of the Appalachian Mountains.  Indian country lay to the west of the line, extending west to the Mississippi, north to the Hudson Bay Co., and south to Spanish Florida.  Colonists' lands lay to the east.  White settlement on Indian Land and displacement of the Indian people was prohibited without tribal and Crown consent. It proved unenforceable, however, and colonists continued to pour into the western lands.

1768.   As soon as the first official Indian Country was established, the British started negotiating treaties and acquiring lands for future settlements.  Just five years later, the Ft. Stanwix Treaty opened all lands south of the Ohio to the mouth of the Tennessee River.

1779.  The Shawnee Nation split irrevocably.  About four thousand Shawnee, from all five septs,  moved west of the Mississippi to Cape Girardeau, MO.  This included most  of  the Thawegilas, Kispokothas and Peckuwes, and a sizeable portion of the Chalahgawthas.  In the history books, these became known as the Absentee Shawnee.  Less than three thousand, including perhaps 850 warriors, remained east of the Mississippi.  These included most of the Maykujays, a goodly number of Chalahgawthas, and some of the other three septs.  They became known as the Eastern Shawnee

1783.  After the American Revolution, the new Treaty of Paris officially revoked the Indian Proclamation Line, recognizing both intervening land cessions and the settlements that had already encroached across the Appalachians into the Ohio Valley.  Natural barriers, like the Ohio River, were again used as boundaries between white settlements and Indian Country.

1787.  The Northwest Ordinance was passed by Congress, creating the Northwest Territory.  This was to be divided into no less than three and no more than five districts which should become states after passing through territorial status.

1788.  Kentucky Lands were ceded to the United States by the  Iroquois, although claimed by the Shawnee, so they remained a matter of contention for some years.

1790-1791.  A confederation of Shawnees, Miamis, Chippewas and other allied Indian nations of the Ohio valley and lower Great Lakes, incensed by incursions into lands still claimed by the Miamis, defeated the American army in the Northwest Territory.  The scale of this victory temporarily  halted settlement in the Northwest Territory.

1795.  The Greenville Treaty of Peace extinguished the Indian Title to much of the Northwest Territory but fixed a firm boundary between Indian Territory and white settlements.  

1803.  The Louisiana Purchase transferred ownership of the French lands west of the Mississippi (including what is now Oklahoma) to the United States, setting the stage for greater westward expansion.

1810. Land cessions had extended west of the Mississippi.  Although they were not organized as a territory, by policy the western lands were reserved for resettlement of eastern tribes.

1830.  The Indian Removal Act was passed by Congress.  It not only supported state abolition of Indian governments but also provided for removal of all five nations from the southeastern United States.

1834. The Indian Trade and Intercourse Act created an Indian Territory that included all United States territory west of the Mississippi, except the states of Louisiana and Missouri and the Territory of Arkansas. 

1854.  The northern portion of Indian Territory became Kansas and Nebraska Territories.  

1862-1864.  The Santee Sioux uprising in Minnesota and the widespread corruption that triggered it prompted many Plains bands to flee the area.  About 1,300 Kickapoo migrated to Mexico.

1866.  After the Civil War, because of their support of the Confederacy, the Cherokee, Chickasaw, Choctaw, Creek and Seminole Nations were forced to cede their western lands to the United Stated.

1867.  Prior to the Civil War, bands of Senecas, Eastern Shawnee, and Quapaws had been removed from Ohio to the northeast corner of Indian Territory between the Neosho River and the Missouri state line, which became known as the Quapaw Tract.  In 1867, several small bands from Kansas were settled in this area:  Kaskaskias, Miamis, Modocs, Ottawas,  Peorias, Piankashaws, Weas, and Wyandottes

1867.  Keokuk's band of Sacs and Foxes sold their lands in Kansas to the United Sates and removed to Indian Territory.  Their new lands extended along the western creek border between the Cimarron and North Canadian rivers.

1867.  Before the Civil War, by agreement with the Creeks a band of Absentee Shawnee had settled west of the Creeks between the two Canadian Rivers.  After the War, the Creeks were forced to cede this area to the United States and in 1867, Pottawatomies of Kansas selected it for their Lands.  

1872.  The portion of the Cherokee Outlet lying between the Arkansas River and the 96th meridian was assigned to the Osage and Kansas Indians.

1872.  The Allotment Act set the stage for division of Indian Lands into individual farms with the "surplus" opened to white settlement.

1876With the admission of Kansas and Nebraska to the Union, Indian Territory had shrunk to what is now the state of Oklahoma, excluding the panhandle. At this time, the Pawnee lands were established south of the Arkansas River and extending southward to the Cimarron.

1878.  The Poncas were removed from the reservation in Nebraska and settled on a tract west of the Osages in the Cherokee Outlet.  The Otoes and Missouris were placed directly south of them and a band of Nez Perce were removed from Idaho and settled along the Salt Fork northwest of the Poncas.

1883.  After the Sac & Fox were settled on the former Creek Land, about 400 Mexican Kickapoos were placed in an area south of Deep Fork, between the Sac and Fox Lands on the east and the Indian Meridian on the west.  A band of about 90 Iowas were settled between the Cimarron and Deep Fork, also between the Sac & Fox Lands and the Indian Meridian.

1887.  The Nez Perce were moved back to Idaho and their lands turned over to a Tonkawa remnant from Texas.

1889.  With the passage of the General Allotment Act and the creation of Oklahoma Territory, Indian Territory had shrunk to its final form:  the Five Nations (Cherokee, Chickasaw, Choctaw, Creek and Seminole) and the Quapaw Tract.

1891.  The Shawnee and Pottawatomie Lands were divided into Allotments.  At the time, the Shawnee and Pottawatomie together numbered about 900.  In general, the Shawnee Allottments were in the northern portion and the Pottawatomie in the southern.

1891.  The Iowa and Sac & Fox Lands were divided into allotments and on Sept. 22 the former Iowa, Sac & Fox, Pottawatomi and Shawnee Lands were opened by Run.

1892. The Kickapoo Lands were divided into allotments and on May 23, 1895 the former Kickapoo Lands were opened by Run.

1905. The Sequoyah Convention met in Muskogee to prepare a constitution for a proposed new state comprising the Five Nations and the Quapaw Tract.  The Constitution was passed by an overwhelming majority of the citizens but was defeated by Congress.

1906  In June, President Roosevelt signed the Enabling Act which provided for admission of the Twin Territories as a single state. 

Status: This account does not yet include all of the groups that came to what is now Oklahoma. If you have information about others, please share it with us so that the site can grow.

Questions or comments?  E-mail: Sharon McAllister


OK/IT Coordinators

Linda Simpson
Mel Owings

last updated
Saturday, 01-Apr-2017 15:49:57 EDT

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