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Washita County, Oklahoma
This bit of Cloud Chief history submitted by Doyle Fenn.

Okla (people) Humma (red) From the Choctaw language


Indians lived in and migrated back and forth across what is now Oklahoma as they hunted for animals and food. Some 15,000 years ago, the earliest people lived in caves and under rock shelters in the western part of the state.

The Spanish were the first Europeans to explore Oklahoma. Francisco Vazquez de Coronado crossed the western part of the state in 1541. Later Spanish explorers also crossed western and southern Oklahoma but formed no settlements in the area. The French explored the streams in eastern Oklahoma, and the trader Auguste Pierre Chouteau established the first permanent settlement--now Salina--in 1817.

In 1803, the United States purchased the Louisiana Territory from France, but the limits of the purchased area were not known until the Adams-Onis Treaty was completed in 1819. The Red River and the 100th west meridian became boundaries of the American territory and today form the southern and most of the western boundary of Oklahoma. The Panhandle, extending westward to the 103rd west longitude, belonged to Spain until 1821, to Mexico from 1821 to 1836, and to the Republic of Texas until 1850, when it became U.S. territory. The Panhandle remained unorganized territory and was known as No Man 's Land until it was attached to Oklahoma Territory in 1890.

The current state of Oklahoma was attached to other Territories of the United States before gaining territorial status of its own. After the Louisiana Purchase, it was attached to Indiana Territory until 1812. Then, it was made apart of Missouri Territory. In 1819, it was attached to Arkansas Territory. A bill was passed by Congress in 1830 that established the area west of the state of Missouri and the Territory of Arkansas as the home for Indians living east of the Mississippi River. The area was labeled "Indian Territory". The five civilized tribes (Cherokee, Creek, Choctaw, Seminole and Chickasaw) lived, for the most part, in the Carolinas, Tennessee, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi and Florida.

After the Louisiana Purchase, the area was explored by traders. The traders shipped the goods they bought from Indians down river to New Orleans on flat boats. In 1825 the powerful Osage tribe ceded to the United States all of eastern Oklahoma north of the Arkansas River, and in 1818 the Quapaw Indians ceded all claims to lands south of the Arkansas in present-day Oklahoma and Arkansas. This cleared the way for enactment of President Jackson's policy of Indian consolidation.??


The government of the United States negotiated treaties with the Indians living in the Southeastern part of the nation whereby they would relinquish their Eastern lands in exchange for territory encompassing nearly all of present-day Oklahoma. The five civilized tribes (Cherokee, Chickasaw, Choctaw, Creek and Seminole) were primarily farmers who had adopted many cultural traits and farming methods of the white settlers. Their removal to Indian Territory between 1830 & 1840 resulted in many deaths and hardships. Other tribes were removed from their homeland and placed in Indian Territory as time passed, and the Indian Nations became smaller as they had to share their land with other tribes.

Indian Territory between 1803 & 1830 (HISTORICAL ATLAS OF OKLAHOMA)

Arkansas Territory was created by Congress on March 2, 1819, with the 100th meridian being the west boundary. It included all of present-day Oklahoma except the Panhandle. Prior to Arkansas Territory's creation, Major William Lovely met with the Arkansas Choctaws and Osage tribes and negotiated a purchase known as Lovely's Purchase, which gave the U. S. Government title to some of their lands. The western boundary of Arkansas territory was moved farther east in 1824, and again in 1825 to its present location. The Five Civilized Tribes organized representative governments, established towns, and developed farms and businesses until the Civil War disrupted their way of life. Many of the Indians were slave holders, and had brought slaves with them from their eastern homes. The Five Civilized Tribes were divided in loyalty between the Union and the Confederacy. During the Civil War many homes and towns were destroyed, some battles and several skirmishes were fought, and many Indians were forced to leave their respective nations. Following the Civil War the U.S. government declared the five civilized tribes were allies of the Confederacy. As punishment for sympathizing with the Confederate States, the five civilized tribes lost large portions of their nations with a payment of 15 to 30 cents per acre. Much of the western area was then divided into reservations on which various Plains Indians--Arapaho, Cheyenne, Pawnee, Kiowas, Comanche, Wichita, and smaller tribes--were settled.

The tribes had to agree to abolish slavery. The Choctaw-Chicksaw Nation gave up the leased ct for $300,000. The Creek ceded the western half of their lands (3,250,000 acres) for $975,168 and the Seminoles ceded all of their land (2, 169,080 acres) for $325,362 and the right to purchase part of the tract purchased from the Creeks. The Cherokee Nation agreed to allow friendly tribes to settle on the Cherokee Outlet. Each of the five civilized tribes agreed to allow two railroads to cross their tribal nations.

Indian Territory between 1830 & 1855 (Historical Atlas of Oklahoma)


The Choctaw tribe was the first to sign a treaty to relocate in Indian Territory. Pushmataha was their Chief. He was a friend of Andrew Jackson and led his tribe in battles alongside Andrew Jackson during the War of 1812. In 1830, the tribe signed the Treaty of Dancing Rabbit Creek that allotted them the area between the Red River and the Canadian River and between the 100th Meridian and the Territory of Arkansas. They made their trek westward from their Mississippi homeland during the falls of 183 1 and 1832. The first group left in a winter blizzard, barefoot and short on blankets and food. They traveled in groups of 500 to 1000 under the supervision of U. S. Army troops. The cold and disease took its toll on the Choctaws, and their journey became known as the Trail of Tears because of the numerous deaths along the trail. Those remaining after the 1832 removal would go in 1833, according to the

Three years later, approximately 7000 had not left their Mississippi homeland. The Chickasaw Tribe and the remaining Choctaws agreed to move to Indian Territory in the Treaty of Doaksville in January, 1837.


The Creek tribe lived in southern Alabama and Georgia. Their tribal name was given by the English who observed that they lived near creeks. They called themselves the Muskogee tribe. The Creek tribe divided themselves in two divisions because of disagreements over whether they should move peacefully to Indian Territory. William McIntosh was the chief of the Upper Creeks and was murdered because he signed a treaty to move to Indian Territory in 1825. Enemies set his house on fire and shot him when he ran out of the house. Opothleyahola became the chief after McIntosh was murdered. Opotheyahola signed a treaty to move to Indian Territory in 1826. Many of the Creeks relocated to Indian Territory, but a large segment remained in Alabama until 1832 when they were escorted to Indian Territory. The Creek (Muskogee) tribe numbered about 25,000 when the hold outs moved to Indian Territory. Shortly after arriving in Indian Territory, several thousand died from malaria, influenza, and other diseases. The Creek Nation was between Cimarron and North Canadian Rivers.

Indian Territory between 1855 & 1866 (HISTORICAL ATLAS OF OKLAHOMA)


The most advanced of the five civilized tribes was the Cherokees. They lived in northern Alabama, Georgia, Eastern Tennessee, and the Carolinas, and were advanced in farming, education, and technology. George Guess (Sequoyah) invented an alphabet for the Cherokee language, and John Ross was the principal chief of the Cherokees. During the Revolutionary War, they sided with the English, but switched to the American side during the War of 1812. They fought alongside Andrew Jackson and saved his scalp from an attacking Creek during the Battle of Horseshoe Bend in Alabama. Andrew Jackson was known as Sharp Knife by the Cherokees. Imagine their shock when Andrew Jackson, as the 7th President of the U. S., signed the Indian Removal Act in 1830, forcing them to give up their homes and move to Indian Territory. Gold had been found on their Georgia land, and the whites wanted their land for cotton growing. A group of the Cherokees moved to northern Arkansas along the White River about 1800. Sequoyah visited the Western Cherokees in 1822 and liked the area. He moved about 10 miles northeast of the current town of Sallisaw, Oklahoma. In 1828, the Western Cherokees made a treaty that traded their Arkansas land for the northeast corner of Indian Territory.

They relocated in 1829.

John Jolly was the principal chief of the Western Cherokees and was a friend of Sam Houston, who lived with the chief for several months in 1829. In 1835, the Eastern Cherokees were forced to sign the treaty of New Echota which provided for their removal to Indian Territory to join their Western Cherokee relatives. The Eastern Cherokees resisted the move and rebelled. Finally, the U. S. Army was sent in to force the move. Cherokees and their slaves were kidnapped and placed in confinement until 1838 when they were marched by United States Troops to Indian Territory. Over one-third died of dysentery, hypothermia, measles, whooping cough, and the severe cold during the infamous Trail of Tears march to their new and unwanted homeland. The Trail of Tears march began at Fort Payne, Alabama, and Fort Cass, Tennessee, and ended at Talequah, Indian Territory. A new group of varying size (500 to 1000) began the long torturous journey to Indian Territory about five days apart until the relocation was complete. Their camp sites were easy to locate. New graves were dug every morning to bury those who died during the night.

Approximately 1000 escaped and hid in the Great Smoky mountains. They were eventually recognized by the U. S. Government and given a reservation at Cherokee, North Carolina where Unto These Hills, a dramatic production about their escape and hardship, is presented.

A common misconception of the Cherokee homes is that they lived in Tipies. The Cherokees never lived in the tipi. The tipi was primarily a plains Indian home. Tipies at Cherokee villages today are placed there to satisfy the tourist.


The Chickasaw tribe was the next tribe to move to Indian Territory. They lived in western Kentucky, Tennessee, northern Mississippi and northwest Alabama and spoke the same language as their close "relatives", the Choctaws. Tishamingo was their chief. The Treaty of Pontotoc provided for the sale of their land in Mississippi in 1 832, and the 6000 Chickasaw relocated to the Choctaw Nation. The 1837 Treaty of Doaksville was an agreement that the Chickasaw would pay the Choctaws $530,000 for the right to become Choctaw citizens. Some of the Chickasaw traveled by steamboat up the Arkansas River to Fort Coffee while the others came by covered wagon or on horseback. The first group arrived in 1837, while some did not arrive in the Choctaw Nation until 1844.

Indian Territory between 1866 & 1899

Smaller tribes occupying portions of Indian Territory purchased by the U. S. Government were: I-Peoria, 2-Quapaw, 3-Modoc, 4-Ottawa, 5-Shawnee, 6-Wyandotte,_7-Seneca, 8-Tonkawa, 9-Ponca, I 0-Oto & Missouri


The Seminole tribe was probably the most belligerent of the tribes. Osceola was their chief, and he was a noted warrior. Efforts were made to get the Seminoles to settle with the Creeks in Indian Territory. Osceola did not like the environment because the Creeks were not united themselves. In 1833, a treaty was signed at Fort Gibson that gave the Seminoles the area between the North Fork of the Canadian and the Canadian River. Most of the Seminoles still refused to leave Florida. In 1835, war began with the U. S. Troops and lasted for seven years. Osceola was captured and imprisoned at Fort Moultrie where he died. About 2,000 Seminoles agreed to relocate and went to Ft. Gibson where many of them died. They could not get into their assigned area because Opothlelyahola, the Upper Creek chief, would not allow them to settle in the area. In 1841, the remaining 400 Seminoles, under the leadership of Coa-Cooche "Wild Cat", sailed from Tampa, Florida, up the Mississippi and Arkansas Rivers to Indian Territory. The Seminoles had many Negro slaves in Florida and intermarried with them.


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Updated:  02/20/24 January 23, 2024