The last of the series of revolts against the Creek government occurred early in the year 1901.1 This was known as the Snake Revolution or the "Crazy Snake Uprising." The non-progressive element in all the Five Civilized Tribes was involved in this Snake Movement; but its origin was in the Creek Nation and it was there that for a few days such serious results were threatened.2 Hence, it is with the parent Creek organization that we shall deal. This uprising is interesting in that it comes upon the eve of allotment, and the merging of all the tribes from the condition of wards of the government to United States citizenship.
During 1897 the Dawes Commission made agreements with the Choctaws, Chickasaws, and Seminoles regarding the details of individual allotments of land.3 The agreement with the Creeks was not approved by the tribe.4 The Cherokees, it might be added, refused to negotiate at this time.5 In June, 1897, an act was passed in Congress which put an end to tribal courts in Indian Territory and gave jurisdiction to United States courts in all civil and criminal cases originating after January 1, 1898.6 On June 28, 1898, all cases were transferred to the United States courts; tribal laws were done away with, and the Indians in Indian Territory were brought under the laws of the United States. The Dawes Commission was authorized to proceed with the allotment of lands as soon as the rolls of citizens should be completed,7 regardess of the tribal agreements.
2See open letter written by John McIntosh in Indian Journal far Sept. 20, 1883. Chief Checote's message to the Creek people on the general conditions is in Ibid., Oct. 18, 1883.
730, Statutes, 495-518. Cited by Gittinger. p. 192, n. 43. This act was known as the Curtis Act; since the bill was introduced by Senator Charley Curtis of Kansas. Kappler, Ind. Aff. Laws and Treaties. Vol. I pp. 90-100 and 646-662.
With the modifications provided the tribal government was continued. Acts of the national council were submitted to the Secretary of the Interior for Executive Action. Rep. Com. Ind. Aff., 1899, p. 187. This particular point will be discussed in more detail in Chapter IV.
From 1897 to 1901 there had been gradually organized in the Creek Nation a government of full-blood Indians under the distinctive title of The Snake Government; and not only in the Creek Nation but as well in the Cherokee, Choctaw, Chickasaw, and the Seminole nations had there existed during this period an agreement among many of the full-bloods to organize "Snake Governments" similar to that in the Creek Nation.1
Chitto Harjo (Wilson Jones), whose name translated into English means Crazy Snake, was a member of the Upper or Northern faction of the Creeks. He was a typical representative of the then almost extinct full-blood Indian. He was an eloquent orator with a fertile imagination. He had a marvelous influence over the ordinary uneducated and unlearned Indians who gathered about his cabin to hear his words of wisdom and advice. These Indians were appalled at the sudden and sweeping changes which congressional legislation had brought to their customs and their country.2
The first of the meetings held at Chitto Harjo's cabin were for consultation with their old-time friend and addvisor, but out of these gatherings there was formed a plan to send some of their trusted men to Washington to see the president and to talk with government officials. They wanted to ascertain "if their old treaties were still there." The men who went to Washington on this trip were Chitto Harjo, Lahtah Micco, Hotulke Fixico, and Hotulka Yahola. This delegation found the removal treaty of 1832 and many subsequent ones; but they ignored all save that of 1832, a copy of which they had made to bring back with them. It seems from the testimony which was brought out in the work incident to this campaign that this delegation fell into the hands of an attorney at Washington, whom they claimed was a government
1Annual Report of the Department of Interior, Indian Affairs, 1901, Part I, p. 236. For agitation among the other tribes see South McAlester News for January 25, and February 1, 1901, Daily Oklahoman for January 26, 1901, and Gideon, History of Indian Territory, pp. 126-127.
official, and instructions were given them to return home and gather their people together and organize a government and proceed with their old customs and laws and ignore the new order of affairs.1
Upon the return of this delegation to the Creek Nation they sent runners to their people with instructions to gather at Hickory Ground, their meeting-place near Harjo's home. At first there were only a few who would attend the meetings called by the returned delegation, but from time to time the number increased until by the end of the summer of 1900 there were several hundred Creeks with small delegations of Choctaws, Cherokees, Chickasaws, and Seminoles present. Practically all of these were full-blood Indians.2
By October, 1900, the "Snake Government" had so far progressed in its organization as to have an elected principal chief, a second chief, an advisory council, or cabinet, composed of twelve members, a legislative body of kings and warriors, and a judicial tribunal known as "lawyers." These officers had procured a seal quite similar to the seal of the Muskogee Nation and had established their capital at Hickory Ground. They had brought into existence a number of laws and were taking steps to enforce them by appointing light horsemen. All Creeks in the neighborhood who declined to join the so-called government were threatened and intimidated.3
Until this time their meetings and their work had not been regarded as of special significance, but in the early part of November, 1900, after they had been duly notified by United States Indian Agent Shoenfelt of the illegality of their government and had positively refused to heed his advice and disband, the matter was referred to United States Marshall Dr. Leo E. Bennett for action. On November 2, 1900, Pleasant Porter, principal chief of the Muskogee Nation, appealed to the United States Government for protection from the deluded snake Indians who were very threatening toward the regular council of the Creeks. On November 3 a warning proclamation was issued by Marshall Bennett and as a
1Annual Report of the Department of Interior, Indian Affairs, 1901, Part I, p. 235. South McAlester News, February 1, 1901.
3Annual Report of the Department of Interior, Indian Affairs, 1901, pp. 235-236. South McAlester News, January 4, 1901.
result the Snake Government disbanded and the adherents all returned to their homes. Thus the situation remained until January, 1901, when the Snake council reconvened and declared that they intended to carry on their government and to enforce their laws. Their principal chief, Lahtah Micco, sent notices to that effect to the president of the United States, and made general announcement throughout the Creek Nation by posting copies of the Snake laws in public places and by sending out leaders to make public speeches at various gatherings.1
All Creeks who refused to join or acknowledge allegiance to the Snake government were repeatedly threatened with chastisement. Many of the inhabitants of the Creek Nation procured guns and ammunition and prepared for proper resistance in case they should be attacked, or should efforts be made to arrest and punish them under the laws of the Snake government.2
Many certificates of allotments were taken up by the Snake light horsemen and several Creeks were whipped for accepting allotments.3 The general alarm thus created led Agent Shoenfelt and Marshall Bennett to ask for a cavalry force. They thought that the presence of "blue coats," as representatives of the great power of the United States, might act with such moral force as to cause the Snake officials to hesitate before they offered armed resistance. This request was granted and a group of cavalry arrived from Fort Reno in January, 1901. This troop, Bennett's posse, and Shoenfelt's Indian police went into camp at Henryetta. The three forces were combined and organized into squads of from three to ten men, and the surrounding country was carefully scoured. Chitto Harjo and his secretary, John Timothy, were captured and the records of the Snakes were secured. These records consisted of books containing the names of the council members, light horsemen, and the cit-
1Annual Report of the Department of Interior, Indian Affairs, 1901, Part I pp. 235-236. The Chieftan (Vinita), November 8, 1900, Gideon, History of Indian Territory, p. 122. Secretary Hitchcock's reply to Chief Lahtah Micco's message to the president is printed in the Tulsa Democrat for Feb. 15, 1901.
3Many individuals were accepting allotments in spite of the fact that the Creek council had not ratified the Dawes agreement.
izens who had enrolled their names and the names of their families as members of the Snake government.1
With this additional information a systematic search was begun and by February 25, ninety-four officers and members had been captured and sixty-seven of them placed in jail at Muskogee.2
In pursuance of an agreement between Fears and Crump, attorneys for the Snake government, and United States Marshall Bennett, Chitto Harjo and his followers waived preliminary examination and in a written statement pleaded guilty to the charge of seditious conspiracy.3 A special grand jury was summoned, witnesses were examined, and a few of the defendants were given a hearing. The grand jury reported to the four indictments, the principal one of which was conspiracy. The defendants were arraigned before the court and the indictments read, interpreted, and fully explained to them. They all entered a plea of guilty. Judge John R. Thomas explained to Chitto Harjo and his followers the terrible predicament in which they were placed. He painted for them a picture of life behind prison bars as compared with living peaceably at home and enjoying the blessings of liberty and good government. The court, however, decided to discharge all the prisoners upon obtaining from each one a pledge to return home and become peaceful and law-abiding citizens. Many of them immediately selected allotments and there was no further trouble of a serious nature from this faction.4
In this study we have traced the development of the
1Annual Report of the Department of Interior, Indian Affairs, 1901, Part I, p. 235. South McAlester News, January 25, and February 1, 1901. The Daily Oklahoman, January 25, 1901 and The Tahlequah Arrow, February 2, 1901. A Summary view of the situation is given in The Chieftan, February 21, 1901.
2Annual Report of the Department of the Interior, Indian Affairs, 1901, Part I, p. 236. Of the ninety-four arrested sixteen were discharged on bonds, two were fined, five were acquitted, four were held as witnesses for the government, and sixty-seven were jailed. See also Tahlequah Arrow, Feb. 23, 1901.
4Ibid., 1901, Part 1, Indian Affairs, Report of the Commission to the Five Civilized Tribes, pp. 236-237, and The Chieftan for Feb. 28, 1901. For accounts of further agitation among the Choctaws, Creeks, Cherokee, and Seminoles see Tulsa Democrat for April 12 and March 14, 1901, and Indian Journal for March 7, 1902.
Creek political systems from the earliest obtainable records. We have seen that there were four distinct attempts to destroy the government under the constitution of 1867. All four of these attempts emanated from the same cause—a desire to return to the primitive conditions of society and government which existed prior to the removal of the Creeks to Indian Territory. In each instance of rebellion there was an able leader in charge of the movement. Possibly these leaders were possessed of ulterior motives; but the large following each enjoyed was made up mostly of non-progressive, superstitious full-bloods who longed for the old days when the wild game was found upon every hill and dale, and the streams were filled with fish. They yearned for a return to their old customs and a restoration of their former hunting grounds. Naturally such an element would follow anyone who would promise these things. This explains why Spokokogeeyohola, Sands, Isparhecher, and Crazy Snake were able to gather about them such formidable forces.
The constitution adopted in 1867 remained unchanged until the end of the Creek Nation in 1907. Attempts were made from time to time to change it but these all failed.1
Section 1. The law-making power of this Nation shall be lodged in a Council, which shall consist of two houses: the House of Kings and the House of Warriors.
Section 2. The house of Kings shall be composed of one representative from each town. Each member shall be elected by the vote of the town which he represents, and shall hold his office for four years.
Section 3. The House of Warriors shall consist of one representative from each town, and an additional representative for every two hundred persons belonging to the town.
1A bill was introduced in the Creek National Council to change the proportion of representation and to reduce the number of officers, but it failed to receive the necessary two-thirds majority over the chief's veto. A copy of the bill is printed in the Indian Journal for November 8, 1883. The fate of the bill and various comments on it may be found in articles in the Indian Journal for November 15 and November 22, 1883.
Each member shall be elected by the vote of the town which he represents, and shall hold his office for four years.
Section 4. The members of Council shall receive such compensation out of the National Treasury as shall be provided for by law.
Section 5. A majority of the members of each house shall constitute a quorum; but a less number may adjourn from day to day and compel the presence of absentees.
Section 6. Each house shall judge of the returns and qualifications of its members, impeach a member for disorderly conduct, and, by the concurrence of the two-thirds of both houses, expel a member. Neither house shall adjourn for a longer period than two days without the consent of both houses.
Section 7. The House of Kings shall elect its own President, and the House of Warriors shall elect its own Speaker.
Section 8. Each house shall choose its own Secretary, whose pay shall be provided by law, and whose term of office shall continue at the discretion of the house which he serves.
Section 9. No person shall become a member of either house, who shall not be an acknowledged citizen and who shall not have attained the age of twenty-two years.
Section 10. The style of the action of the Council shall be: "Be it Enacted by the National Council of the Muskogee Nation."
Section 1. There shall be a Principal Chief, to be styled the "Principal Chief of the Muskogee Nation," who shall be elected for the term of four years, by a majority of the votes of the male citizens of the Muskogee Nation who shall have attained the age of eighteen years. There shall also be a Second Chief, who shall be chosen for the same term, in the same manner as that prescribed for the election of the Principal Chief, and in case of the death, resignation, or removal from office of the Principal Chief, he shall perform all the duties of that officer.
Section 2. No person shall be eligible to the office of Principal or Second Chief of the Muskogee Nation, who is not a recognized citizen of the same, and who shall not have attained the age of thirty years.
Section 3. The Principal Chief is hereby invested with
the reprieving and pardoning power. He shall see that all the laws of this Nation are faithfully executed and enforced; shall make an annual report to the National Council of the condition of affairs in the Nation; and shall recommend such measures as he may deem necessary for the welfare of the Nation.
Section 4. Whenever any bill or measure shall pass both houses, it shall be submitted to the Principal Chief for his approval or rejection. If he shall approve it, it shall become a law. If he shall object to it, he shall, within five days, return it, accompanied by his objections, to the house in which it originated; and if not so returned within five (5) days, it shall become a law. If, after a bill or measure has been vetoed by the Principal Chief, it shall again be submitted to the two houses, and receive a favorable vote of two-thirds of both houses, it shall become a law.
Section 5. Whenever any bill or measure shall pass both houses and be submitted to the Principal Chief for his approval or rejection, within five days before an adjournment, he shall be allowed the first three days of the next Council within which to return the same.
Section 6. The Principal Chief shall be allowed to select a Private Secretary, who shall be compensated out of the National Treasury as provided by law.
Section 1. The Supreme law defining power in this Nation shall be lodged in a High Court, to be composed of five (5) competent, recognized citizens of the Muskogee Nation, who shall have attained tile age of twenty-five (25) years. They shall be chosen by the National Council for the term of four years, and shall be paid as provided for by law.
Section 2. This Court shall meet on the first Monday in October in each year, and shall have power to try all cases where the issue is for more than one hundred dollars ($100). Three members shall constitute a quorum.
Section 1. The Muskogee Nation shall be divided into six (6) districts and each district shall be furnished with a judge, a prosecuting attorney and a company of light horsemen.
Section 2. The judge shall be chosen by the National Council for the term of two years. He shall try all cases, civil and criminal, where the issue does not exceed one hundred dollars. He shall have the right to summon twenty-four disinterested men, out of which number there shall be selected, in criminal cases twelve, and in civil cases nine, who shall sit as jurors. He shall also be allowed a clerk, whose pay shall be provided for by law. The judge's pay shall be provided for by law.
Section 3. Any person failing to obey a summons to serve as juror, without good reason for such failure, shall be fined in the sum of five (5) dollars. Each juror whilst in service shall receive one dollar per day.
Section 4. The Prosecuting Attorney shall be appointed by the Principal Chief, by and with consent of the National Council. It shall be his duty to indict and prosecute all offenders against the laws of his district. For each convict he shall be paid the sum of twenty-five dollars ($25).
Section 5. The Light Horse Company shall consist of a captain and four privates, who shall be elected for the term of two years by the vote of the district, and shall be subservient to the orders of the Judge. Their compensation shall be provided for by law.
Section 1. There shall be a National Treasurer, who shall be selected by the National Council for the term of four years. His duty shall be to receive and receipt for all National funds, and to disburse the same as shall be provided for by law. He shall report the condition of the National finances to the National Council at least once every year. He shall be required to bind himself in a bond of five thousand dollars ($5,000), with good security, for the faithful performance of his duty. He shall be paid as provided for by law.
Section 2. No moneys shall be drawn from the National Treasury, except to carry out appropriations made by the National Council, and when such an appropriation is so made, the Principal Chief shall issue a draft upon the Treasury to meet the same.
Section 1. There shall be a National Interpreter, who shall be elected by the National Council for the term of four years, and who shall be compensated according to provisions of law.
Section 1. All officers of this Government shall be liable to impeachment, trial and removal from office for neglect of duty.
Section 2. All bills of impeachment shall originate in the House of Warriors.
Section 1. No laws impairing contracts shall be passed.
Section 2. No laws taking effect upon things that occurred before the enactment of the law shall be passed.
Section 1. All cases shall be tried according to the provisions of the respective laws under which they originated.
Section 2. All persons shall be allowed the right of counsel.
Section 1. All treaties shall be made by delegates, duly recommended by the Principal Chief, and approved by the National Council, and such treaties shall be subject to the ratification of the National Council.
Section 2. The treaties shall be the supreme law of the land.1
Section 1. The election of the first and second chief and members of the National Council shall take place on the first Monday in September, and shall be conducted in the following manner:
1Constitution and Laws of the Muskogee Nation as compiled by L. G. Perryman, March 1st, 1890, Phoenix Printing Co., Muskogee, (I. T.) Okla., pp. 3-7.
1. Each town shall convene on the day specified.
2.1 The members of the National Council shall be judges of election in their respective towns; but in the event of their disability by reason of sickness, etc., the town chief shall be the judge.
3. The election rolls shall be closed and sealed when the day of election has ended.
4. Before the roll has been sealed, a duplicate of the same shall be taken and retained by the town chief.
5. The sealed copy of the roll shall be forwarded to the President of the House of Kings.
6. The rolls shall be opened at the meeting of the Annual National Council by a committee appointed by the Council, and the duplicate roll left in the hands of the Town Chief shall be compared with the same.
7. The same committee shall count the votes.
8. When the votes have been counted and the result ascertained, it shall be declared and promulgated by the Principal Chief by proclamation.
9. All officers elected under the foregoing laws shall enter upon the duties of their office on the fifth day of December following.
Section 2. The election of light horsemen of each district shall be held on the second Monday in September, before the expiration of the term of those holding the office.
Rule 1. In opening and counting the votes, a strict observance of law pertaining thereto shall be observed.
Rule 2. The order of count shall be as follows, to wit: 1. All returns which are in due form, with proper certificate thereto, and to which no well founded objections shall be made, shall be counted first.
2. All returns to which objections may have been raised on account of not having been in due form, or proper certificate attached thereto, or voting under age, or when non-citizens may have voted, or for other well-founded
causes, shall next be taken up, examined and determined upon.
3. Where it is shown that any persons voted by proxy, or voted when not residing within the limits of the Creek Nation, such votes shall not be counted.
4. Where there is established well-founded proof of corruption, or intimidation at the polls, such returns shall be rejected.
5. Where returns may be informal and it can be clearly shown that the intention of all the voters was to conform to the provisions of the law, such returns shall be counted.
6. Where testimony on any return presented by the House of Kings, and the members of the House of Warriors to which objections have been raised, said testimony of either members shall have equal weight.
7. All votes found on the returns that shall be proven to have been inserted at places other than the appointed precincts, and where it is proven that persons voted at more than one precinct, such votes shall be stricken out.
8. Where names have been enrolled without the presence of the persons enrolled, such names shall be rejected.
Approved October 14th, 1879.1
Conditions upon which the difficulties growing out of the late disturbances in the Creek Nation shall be adjusted, it being understood and agreed upon by the parties hereto that they will personally and officially use their best endeavors to secure such legislation by the National Council as is recommended in the following proposition:
I. We recognize the binding force of existing treaties between the United States and the Creek Nation, and declare our earnest desire to preserve the integrity of the Creek Nation and to re-establish and maintain harmony among the Creek people.
II. We recognize the constitution of the Creek Nation, but desire that the Council which shall meet after the pending election, and composed of the members then chosen, shall so amend it by reducing the present representation and other
measures of reform as shall reduce to a reasonable sum the expense of the Government of the Creek Nation.
III. We agree that a full and unconditional amnesty and pardon shall be granted for all alleged criminal offenses, political or otherwise, committed prior to the present date, as provided by the act of the National Council of October 16, 1882, it being understood and agreed upon that should there be any dispute as to whether any offense charged against any person is such a one as has grown out of the late trouble in the Nation, then, in such case, the facts shall be submitted to the Indian Agent, whose decision shall be final.
IV. It is recommended that the Creek authorities provide either to abolish or for a careful re-organization of the Light Horse by dismissal of officers and privates who have used oppressive violence in executing the law, and that vacancies be filled by good men who will firmly but cautiously exercise their authority.
V. That the Creek National Council should appoint a commission of able, faithful, and impartial men, representing both parties, to whom shall be refered, with power to audit and recommend payment thereof, the claims of parties whose property has been unlawfully seized and destroyed during the last disturbance.
VI. That all parties participate in the approaching election and use every effort to secure a full, free vote, and a fair count, and then accept cheerfully the result and submit to the will of the majority.
VII. That the United States troops within the Creek Country be stationed in one camp, at Okmulgee, to maintain peace and assist the civil officers in the enforcement of law and order during such period as the colonel commanding and the Indian Agent may deem such military occupation necessary.
In witness whereof the parties to these presents have hereunto set their hands and seals this tenth day of August, 1883.
G. W. Stedham
D. M. Hodge,
We hereby approve the foregoing agreement and recommendations.
Clinton B. Fisk, E. Whittlesey, United States Commissioners.1
On next Monday, September 3rd, the Creek election for Chief, Second Chief, Members of House of Kings and Warriors, etc., takes place. Three factions, the Loyal, Muskogee, and Pin parties, are in the field, and below we give the platforms of two of them:
Principal Chief, Samuel Checote.
Second Chief, Coweta Micco.
Principal Chief, J. M. Perryman.
Second Chief, Sam Brown.
Whereas, We, the people of the Muskogee Party, in convention at our capitol, feeling an earnest desire for the unity and prosperity of all our people and the advancement of all interests that will increase our general prosperity, do declare to the people Of the Muskogee Nation the following platform—as our principles—pledging ourselves to do all we possibly can to see them successfully inaugurated.
1st. Our earnest and devoted fidelity to the constitution of the Muskogee Nation, and a positive promise to abide by, support and defend the laws of our country.
2d. A positively strict and impartial administration of the laws, and that in such a manner that all—every one of our people—shall have equal and exact justice thereunder.
3d. A perfect maintenance of all friendly relations with our sister Nations.
4th. A positive promise on our part to inaugurate such laws, practice such economy, and establish such measures in regard to our finances as will re-establish our National credit on a firm basis, and make our paper worth dollar for dollar.
5th. That we recognize the immense advantage of an education, and, therefore, will do all that can be done to fos-
ter, protect and encourage our public schools and all of our educational interests.
6th. That we further obligate ourselves to maintain friendly relations with the government of the United States of America, and to honestly abide by all of our treaties made with them.
7th. Knowing that to successfully carry out the above resolutions and promises we must have the countenance and moral support of all our people, we do most earnestly ask all who favor law, order and good government to help to establish the same in our country. Feeling that the interest of one of our people is the interest of all, and desiring above all things to establish firm, and permanent relations of peace and amity among ourselves, we declare the above as our platform, as our principles, and ask all our people to unite with us and help us to guarantee to each and every one a firm, honest and impartial government.
Principal Chief, Isparhecher.
Second Chief, Jas. Fife.
We, the committee of twelve now assembled, representing the Loyal Creek Indians and freedmen, do hereby create this platform of principles as our declaration, as a basis for the government of the Loyal Creeks.
1st. We hereby agree to keep faith with the government of the United States in all the stipulations of our treaty, and with our sister Nations in the spirit of the compact laws.
2d. We desire the preservation of our nationality; to hold our lands in common, as the treaty of 1866 provides; also protection for life and property, and that impartial justice be meted out to every citizen of our Nation, and that peace and harmony be maintained.
3d. We desire and will do all in our power to support the National and religious institutions of learning now in, or that may be established hereafter among our people, and we will encourage and support whatever will advance the development of agriculture and stock-raising.
4th. We desire and will endeavor to secure an act of council to legalize marriage, and which will include the en-
franchisement of all who have married among our people, according to our laws and usages, irrespective of race or color.
5th. We desire that all the officers, elected according to the laws of the Creek Nation, shall consider it an imperative duty to see that the principles of this platform are fully executed, and we hereby pledge ourselves to their faithful observance, and to support the execution of the laws of our Nation with impartiality.
6th. That our party organization be free and open to every citizen who wishes to work on the terms set forth in this our declaration of principles.
7th. We do hereby nominate Ispiechee as our candidate for Principal Chief and Judge James Fife as our candidate for Second Chief, who we will endeavor to elect to the respective offices, as men whom we trust, to secure the execution of the propositions herein set forth.
Robt. Grayson, Chairman.
The following is a list of towns in the Creek Nation. The last three were colored towns. The first forty-four listed were Indian towns.
Annual Report of the Department of Interior, 1900, Report of Commission to Five Civilized Tribes pp. 22-23.
Treaties and Agreements Affecting the Tribal History of the Creek Indians
The Creek Nation was for a long time recognized by the United States as a separate and independent nation. It was treated as a state in a certain sense, though not as a foreign state or a state of the union. It was treated, however, as a distinct community with boundaries accurately described, and as a domestic territory. Local self-government was exercised by the Creeks from the earliest times. The laws and customs of the nation adopted for the government and protection of the members thereof had never been interfered with by the United States.1
The first treaty made by the United States with the
1House Documents, Vol. 116, No. 538, Digest of Decisions Relating to Indian Affairs, Vol. I, Section 3439, p. 537, 56th Cong., 2nd Sess., 1900-1901.
Creek Indians was executed at New York on August 7, 1790, by Henry Knox, Secretary of War under President Washington, and the kings, chiefs, and warriors of the Creek Nation. There were twenty-three of these and they represented only ten towns or clans. By this treaty the Creek Reservation was defined as being a large tract of land lying in the present states of Georgia and Alabama, bounded on the east by the Savannah River and on the southwest by the Altamaha. The Creeks surrendered all claims they might have had to the territory lying east and north of this reservation. For this relinquishment the United States agreed to pay the Creeks $1,500 annually and to "cause certain valuable goods in the state of Georgia to be delivered to the Creeks." As an inducement to the Indians to advance to the agricultural stage the United States agreed to furnish them, from time to time, useful domestic animals and implements of husbandry. This treaty also provided for the punishment of offenses committed by whites on the reservation and by Indians against the whites.1
On June 29, 1796, the second treaty with the Creeks was effected at Colerain.2 This treaty provided that the northern boundary of the Creek Reservation, extending from the Currahee Mountain to the Oconee or Apalachee River should be clearly ascertained and marked under the direction of the President. It also provided that the United States might establish a trading or military post at Beard's Bluff on the Altamaha River, and for that purpose the Creeks ceded a tract of land five miles square.3
The third Creek treaty was made with commissioners appointed by President Thomas Jefferson, at Fort Wilkinson on the Oconee River on June 16, 1802. By this treaty the Creeks were induced to give up a valuable portion of their reservation adjoining the Oconee, Ocmulgee, and Altamaha Rivers. For this tract of land the United States agreed to pay the Creeks, $3,000 annually and $25,000 in goods and the
1Senate Document No. 319, Vol. II, pp. 25-29, 58th Cong., 2nd Sess., the other boundaries were not defined. For the cessions taken up in this and the following treaties see Bureau of American Ethnology, 18th Annual Report, Part II, Plates 1 and 15. (Maps of Alabama and Georgia.)
settlement of various claims. Further, this treaty provided for the payment of $1,000 per year for ten years to the chiefs of the Creek Nation, and also for furnishing two sets of blacksmith tools, with men to work them for three years.1
On November 14, 1805, the chiefs and head men of the Creek Nation signed another treaty at Washington. By its terms the Creeks agreed to cede another portion of their reservation lying between the Oconee and Ocmulgee rivers, for which the United States agreed to pay annually the sum of $12,000 in money or goods, for a period of eight years, to be followed by an annual payment of $11,000 during the next ten years. This treaty also provided that the United States should have the use of a horse path through the Creek Reservation.2
As a punishment for the aid which the Creeks rendered to the English during the War of 1812 they were required at the end of the Creek War of 1812-14 to cede another slice of their territory along the Coosa River to the United States. The Government, however, promised that inasmuch as the Creeks were reduced to extreme want, it would furnish them with the necessities of life until they could mature a crop of corn. This treaty was entered into between General Andrew Jackson and the chief and warriors of the Creek Nation on August 9, 1814. It cites that "an improvoked, inhuman and sanguinary war had been waged by the hostile Creeks against the United States" and "that the States had repelled, prosecuted and determined the same successfully, notwithstanding the duplicity and misrepresentation of foreign emissaries, whose governments were at war with the United States." This treaty was signed at Fort Jackson.3 It gives some idea of the vigorous and unmerciful attitude which General Jackson had assumed toward the Indians, and also an inkling of the machinations of designing foreigners in inviting the Indians to trouble and insurrection.
On January 22, 1818, at the Creek Agency on the Flint River the Creeks ceded two tracts of land in the vicinity of Ocmulgee and Apalachee rivers, for the consideration of $20,000 cash, and $10,000 annually for ten years.4
One of the important early Creek treaties was that of Indian Springs concluded on January 8, 1821. By this treaty the Creeks surrendered control of a large part of their reservation adjoining the Flint and Chattahoochee rivers. A tract of one thousand acres of land surrounding Indian Springs was reserved for the tribe and one square mile of land on the bank of the Ocmulgee was reserved for William McIntosh, and a square mile each for Michey Barnard, James Barnard, Buckey Barnard, Cussena Barnard and Efauemathlaw was reserved on the Flint River. For this cession of land the United States agreed to pay $10,000 in cash, $40,000 upon the ratification of the treaty, $5,000 annually for two years, $16,000 annually for five years thereafter, and $10,000 annually thereafter for six years. This treaty also provided that the United States would assume a claim of the State of Georgia against the Creek Nation in the amount of $250,000.1
On February 12, 1825, at Indian Springs, a treaty was negotiated which provided for the relinquishment of practically all of the Creek holdings in Georgia in exchange for lands west of the Mississippi and a money consideration of $5,000,000.2 This treaty was signed by William McIntosh, head chief, and fifty-one town chiefs and head men of the Creek Nation, but the Takaubatchees of the Upper Creeks refused to sign it. This treaty was the cause of the death of William McIntosh.
On January 24, 1826, the Creeks ceded a portion of their reservation along the Chattahoochee River in the vicinity of Buzzard's Roost. For this cession they were to receive $217,600 and a perpetual annuity of $20,000. This treaty also provided that the United States would pay the expenses and one year's subsistence to such Creeks as would emigrate to the new country west of the Mississippi River within two years from that date. It also provided for the payment of $100,000 to be divided among the Creek chief and warriors provided they could induce three thousand of their people to emigrate.3
The Creeks gave up to the State of Georgia a tract of land by the terms of the Creek Agency Treaty of November
15, 1827. For this relinquishment they were to receive $27,491, in addition to $15,000 for goods and education.1
The "Removal Treaty" of 1832 was made between Lewis Cass and the Creek chiefs at Washington April 4th. By its terms the Creeks gave up practically all of their reservation in exchange for lands west of the Mississippi. The United States agreed to spend annually, for twenty years, the sum of $3,000 upon the education of Creek children and to furnish a blacksmith, rifles and blankets to the emigrant Indians. This treaty further solemnly guaranteed that no state or territory should ever have a right to pass laws for the government of the Creeks in their new homes.2
Shortly after emigration the Creeks found themselves involved in difficulties with the Cherokees over boundary lines. A council which met at Fort Gibson January 219th to February 14, 1833, succeeded in making an apparently satisfactory adjustment and a treaty was signed. This council was attended by five Cherokees, nine Creeks, and three representatives of the United States.3
On account of Creek emigration some of their improvements were either lost or abandoned. A treaty made by General Armstrong, Superintendent of Western Territory, with the Creek chiefs at Fort Gibson, November 23, 1838, adjusted most of these claims. This treaty also provided for the maintenance of a manual labor school for the Creeks in the Canadian District and one in the Arkansas Disstrict.4
One of the most important treaties in the history of the Creeks was concluded at Washingon, D. C., on the 7th of August, 1856. Some of its signers mentioned in this thesis were Chilly McIntosh, Daniel N. McIntosh, Tuskabatchee Micco, Echo Harjo, and George Stidham. This treaty is a summary of all former treaties. It cancelled many old provisions which seemed to have outlived their usefulness and adjusted many disputes which had arisen during the preceding decade. It settled a dispute concerning the boundaries of the Creek and Seminole reservations and provided that members of either tribe might settle upon land in either reservation. The treaty was signed also by the Seminole delegates,
who agreed to use their influence toward inducing their brothers in Florida to emigrate to their new reservation. The Creeks were to receive $1,000,000, for which they agreed to release all claims to lands east of the Mississippi and to grant a defined portion of their reservation to the Seminoles; provided that the title to this portion could not be alienated by the Seminoles without the consent of the Creeks.1
The treaty which the Creeks signed after the Civil War has already been discussed in Chapter II of this thesis.
By 1866 the Creeks had negotiated with the United States by treaty on fifteen separate occasions, and on each of these occasions save one their reservation had diminished in size. Even the treaty of 1833 gave to the Cherokees land which the Creeks thought was theirs.2
The "Intercourse Act" of March 5, 1871, put an end to the treaty making power of the tribes.
As early as 1874 the Creeks were beginning to fear that they would be dispossessed of their lands and the commissioner for that year states that they make "most strenuous resistance to a survey and the apportioning of their lands in fee.3
On July 1, 1874, the Cherokee, Creek, Choctaw, Chickasaw, and Seminole agencies were consolidated and managed under the direction of Union Agency at Muskogee, Creek Nation. In 1875, A. C. William's, Indian Agent, says, "Each tribe or nation has a constitutional government, with legislative, judicial, and executive departments, and conducted on the same plan as our State governments, the entire expenses of which are paid out of their own funds, which are derived from interest on various stocks and bonds, the invested proceeds of the sale of their lands, and held in trust by the Government of the United States, which interest is paid the
2In order to settle old differences and put an end to the bitter feeling which had existed for many years between the three tribes, The Creeks, Cherokees, and Osages sent delegates to a convention at Tahlequah on July 3, 1843. This convention agreed to a treaty which provided for perpetual peace and friendship among the three tribes; exchange of fugitives from justice; inter-tribal citizenship; and suppression of the liquor traffic. This agreement was signed by representatives from the three tribes and approved by the national councils the following fall. Benedict, History of Muskogee and Northeastern Oklahoma, Vol. I, pp. 212-214.
treasurers of the different nations semi-annually, and by them disbursed on national warrants issued by the principal chief and secretary, and registered by the auditors.1
For many years there was a controversy between the Creeks and Seminoles over boundary lines. The whole trouble is summed up in a statement made by John Q. Tufts, Union Agent, in 1880. He says, "The Creeks sold land to the United States on which to locate the Seminoles, but by some miscalculation the Seminoles were located on lands the Creeks had never sold, and at present they (the Creeks) are the real owners. This fact causes a great deal of trouble between these two tribes, growing out of the question of jurisdiction. The Seminoles have made improvements and it would not be right to remove them again, but the Creeks should be paid for their lands.2
By act of Congress March 3, 1873, commissioners were appointed to negotiate with the Creeks. Two attempts at settlement were unsuccessful. Later the Creek Council appointed a committee to negotiate for the sale of the Seminole tract; and as a result the Creek delegation agreed "to sell to the United States for the use of the Seminoles, 175,000 acres of their land lying east of the dividing line and embracing the land occupied by the Seminoles at the rate of one dollar per acre." Congress in August, 1882, appropriated the sum of $175,000 to pay the Creek Nation for the land.3
An account of the events which led to the dissolution of the Creek tribal government and the transition of the Creek people from government wards to United States citizens may be of interest at this point.
By the terms of the treaty of 1866, the Creeks had ceded to the United States the west half of their entire domain. This land was to be used by the United States for the location of "other Indians and freedmen." At an inter-tribal council held at Eufaula in June, 1886, the representatives of the Five Civilized Tribes had agreed to reject all offers from the government for the purchase of land for the use of citizens of the United States. This action had been ratified by
3Ibid., 1882, p. 49. Most general histories of Oklahoma contain a series of maps which show the various changes in the boundaries of the Indian reservations after removal.
the legislatures of each tribe.1 However, the sentiment among the Creeks seemed to have been divided and in January, 1889, a delegation headed by Pleasant Porter went to Washington and offered to relinquish to the United States the Creek claims to that part of the ceded territory which was still unassigned to "other Indians or freedmen." An agreement was signed on January 19th, in which the Creeks, for a consideration of $2,280,857.10, released the United States from all restrictions on the use of the entire Creek cession of 1866. This agreement was ratified by the Creek council on January 31, 1889, and a bill approving the agreement passed the Senate February 15th, and the House on February 23rd. The President signed the bill and it became a law on March 1, 1889.2
"Between 1889 and 1901 the western half of the Indian Territory, organized as the Territory of Oklahoma, was opened to settlement. Beginning with the Oklahoma district on April 22, 1889, the reservations in this area one after another were divided into freeholds for citizens of the United States. By September, 1901, practically all of the land west of the districts belonging to the Five Civilized Tribes had been occupied."3
The rapid settlement of Oklahoma Territory increased the desire for the opening of Indian Territory. White men began settling in the Indian country without invitation and before provision had been made for them.
In 1880 fifteen thousand Creeks were occupying five thousand square miles of land. In 1880 six thousand white persons were reported to be in the reservations of the Five Civilized Tribes. This number did not include certain laborers, authorized to remain by tribal officials, nor railroad employees.4 This number increased each year and by 1890, Leo E. Bennet, Indian Agent, reported that there were 140,000 white persons out of a total population of 210,000 in the Indian Territory.5
2Constitution and Laws of the Muskogee Nation, Acts of the National Council, pp. 160-164. For copy of the bill see Kappler, Indian Affairs, Laws, and Treaties, Vol. I, 2nd Edition, pp. 321-32. Sen. Doc. 452, 59th Cong., 1st Sess.
On March 1, 1889, an act was passed establishing a United States court at Muskogee for the Indian Territory.1 The fact that the federal government saw the need of a court, having jurisdiction in civil and some criminal cases, shows that the number of white people in the territory had grown to the extent that they were making their needs felt in the face of the tribal protests against the intruders.2
On November 1, 1893, Ex-Senator Henry L. Dawes of Massachusetts, Meredith H. Kidd, of Indiana, and Archibald S. McKennon of Arkansas, were appointed by President Cleveland as members of a commission to treat with the Indians of the Five Civilized Tribes. This commission was authorized to negotiate for the "extinguishment of the national or tribal title to any lands now held by any and all such tribes, either by cession of the same part thereof to the United States, or by the allotment and division of the same in severalty among the Indians as such nations or tribes, respectively, as may be entitled to the same or by such other methods as may be agreed upon." The commission was further authorized to secure the consent of the Indians to such an adjustment of their affairs as would prepare the Indian Territory for admission into the Union. Another section of the act gave the consent of the United States to the immediate allotment of land to any individual members of the Five Civilized Tribes. No power, however, was given to the commission at this time except to negotiate and report. This body is usually referred to as the Dawes Commission.3
Upon their arrival in the Indian Territory the commissioners were not given a very hearty reception by the nations. The Indians had repeatedly expressed themselves as being opposed to any dissolution of their tribal governments or to any division of land. On June 26, 1895, an intertribal council met at Eufaula, Creek Nation, to exchange views upon the proposition of the Dawes Commission. The Creek delegates to this council were Roley McIntosh, John R. Goat,
2This act is printed in full in Report of the Secretary of Interior, Indian Affairs, 1889, pp. 442-446. See Section 6.
3Laws, Decisions, and Regulations Affecting the Work of the Commissioner to the Five Civilized Tribes, 1893 to 1906, p. 12. House Documents, Vol. 20, No. 5, p. 53, 59th Cong., 2nd Sess. Kappler, Vol. II. pp. 484-500, Sen. Doc. 452.
Isparhecher, Robert Stewart, and A. L. Posey. After a two day session the council went on record as being opposed to the proposed agreements and adjourned.1
The Creeks, like the other tribes, at first refused to accept any plan involving a change in their system of land tenure, but the law of June 7, 1897, apparently helped to convince them that further resistance was inadvisable. Anyway, there was a change of attitude on the part of the Creek Commission appointed to treat with the Dawes Commission. On Sept. 27, 1897, an agreement was reached whereby each Creek citizen and freedman was to receive a patent to one hundred and sixty acres of land in lieu of common ownership. It further provided for the appraisal of each allotment by a commission in which the Creeks were represented; for the sale of residue land to the highest bidder; for the establishment of a townsite commission entrusted with the task of laying out townsites, appraising and selling lots; for the extension of the United States courts over "all controversies growing out of the title, ownership, occupation, or use of real estate in the territory occupied by the Creek Nation and over the trial of all persons charged with homicide, embezzlement, bribery and embracery hereafter committed in the territory of said Nation without reference to race or citizenship; for presidential approval of council acts; for reference of all unsettled claims to the Senate as a board of arbitration; for subsequent per capita payment of all money due the Nation, and for granting United States citizenship after the expiration
1Benedict, History of Muskogee and Northeastern Oklahoma, Vol. I, pp. 141-142. Another council was held at South McAlester, No. 11, 1896, Ibid., Vol. I, p. 156.
Gen. G. P. M. Turner, a prominent Creek, in 1897, voiced the feelings of many of the full-blood Creeks towards the effort of the Dawes Commission in a speech in which he used the following words: "Egypt had its locusts, Asiatic countries their cholera, France had its Jacobins, England had the black plague, Memphis had the yellow fever, Texas had her Middle-of-the-road Populists, the world had McKinley and prosperity, Kansas had its grasshoppers, but it was left for the unfortunate Indian Territory to be afflicted with the worst scourge of the Nineteenth century, the Dawes Commission. When God, in the medieval days of his divine administration, first conceded the great idea of building worlds, making governments and creating judiciaries, he never contemplated the Dawes Commission. If he had, he would have shrunk with horror, quit His job and left the world in chaos."
From: History of Muskogee and Northeastern Oklahoma, Vol. I p. 142.
of tribal government. These stipulations, however, were not to go into effect until they were ratified by Congress and by the Creek Nation.1
Congressional ratification constituted the thirtieth section of the Curtis Act of June 28, 1898. This act provided for the termination of tribal jurisdiction and the abolishment of tribal courts. It authorized the Dawes Commission to lay out townsites and make regulations for the incorporation of towns. It confirmed and extended the commission's jurisdiction over citizenship, made allotments compulsory and prohibited all payments to tribal governments.2
In ratifying the Creek agreement of September 27, 1897, Congress had declared that "the same shall be in full force and effect if ratified before the first day of September, eighteen hundred and ninety-eight, by a majority of the votes cast by members of said tribe at an election to be held for that purpose; and the executive of said tribe is authorized and directed to make public proclamation that said agreement shall be voted on at the next general election to be called by such executive for the purpose of voting on said agreement; and if said agreement as amended be so ratified, the provisions of this Act shall then only apply to said tribe where the same do not conflict with the provisions of said agreement; but the provisions of said agreement, if so ratified, shall not in any manner affect the provisions of section fourteen of this Act."3
The Creeks, it seems, were not so prompt in taking
1Sen. Doc. 319, Vol. I, p. 656.
Regarding this agreement, the Creek National Council passed the following resolution:
"The Congress of the United States has passed an act (Indian Appropriation Bill, approved June 7, 1897), which, after January 1, 1898, deprives this nation of the jurisdiction guaranteed to it by treaties. With this flaming sword as an everlasting threat hanging over the nation, as it were, by a single thread, the Creek Commissioners were induced to sign the Agreement of September 27, 1897. This is a repetition of the coercion under which the Creek Delegation signed the treaty of Fort Smith* in 1866 in which it agreed to sell the west half of the whole nation, amounting to three million acres, at thirty cents an acre. There might have been some slight excuse at that time in using coercive measures, but now, thirty years since the great civil war ended, we have the right to demand justice and fair play." Acts and Resolutions of the National Council of the Muskogee Nation, 1893 to 1899, Inclusive, p. 85.
2Kappler, Vol. I, 2nd ed. 656-662. Sen. Doc. 452, 57 Cong., 1st Sess.
*Evidently the treaty signed at Washington. O. M.
action. Isparhecher, who was principal chief at this time, finally agreed to call an election after the meeting of the national council in October. The election was held but the returns failed to show the majority votes necessary for ratification. Isparhecher explained the delay in the election by saying that he wanted the council to prescribe rules and regulations and to afford an opportunity for a thorough discussion of the questions involved. He had the Curtis Bill proper and the agreement translated into the Creek language.1
In accordance with the provisions of the Curtis Act, the Dawes Commission began allotting lands to the Creeks in 1899.2 On March 8, 1900, Pleasant Porter, George A. Alexander, David M. Hodge, Isparhecher, Albert P. McKellop, and Cub McIntosh, duly appointed and authorized Creek delegates, entered into a new agreement with the Dawes Commission in Washington, D. C. According to the terms of this agreement one hundred and sixty acres of land valued at six dollars and fifty cents an acre constituted the standard allotment for the Creeks. The father, mother, or guardian selected the allotment for a minor but could not sell it during his minority. Selections for prisoners, convicts, the aged, and incompetents were to be made for their best interest. Each citizen was to select forty acres of his allotment as a homestead which was declared to be non-taxable, inalienable and free from any encumbrance whatever for twenty-one years. Among other things this agreement provided for the survey, appraisal and sale of town lots, the deliverance of deeds, the closing of citizenship rolls, and the dissolution of tribal government on or before March 4, 1906.3
The above agreement was ratified by Congress, March 1, 1901, on the condition that it must be accepted by the Creek council within ninety days. A special session of the council complied with this provision on May 25th, and
3For text of agreement see Sen. Doc. 319, Vol. I, pp. 729-738 Rep. Com. Ind. Aff., 1903, Part II, p. 88.
the President proclaimed the agreement effective, June 25, 1901.1
An act of March 3, 1901, declared that all Indians in the Indian Territory were citizens of the United States. Much work remained to be done to close up the affairs of the Creek tribe but after that date it ceased to exist except as a sort of financial corporation to take care of the tribal funds. The agreement of March 1, 1901, contained provisions concerning the details of allotments, and on June 30, 1902, Congress ratified an agreement with the tribe which modified slightly, and supplemented the agreement of March 1, 1901.2
The Creek agreement specified that their lands should be appraised at a fair cost value regardless of improvements, and each man, woman, and child, including freedmen, was permitted to select 160 acres of any grade of land. The land was appraised at from 25 cents to $6.50 per acre according to quality. Those who selected 160 acres of the best land were supposed to have allotments worth $1,040. In order to equalize the value of allotments, it was further provided that any citizen whose quarter section was of a lower grade of land, would be entitled to receive the difference between the appraised value of his land and $1,040 in cash from the Creek funds.3
As soon as the Dawes Commission announced that it was ready to allot lands there was a stampede of Indians and negroes for the office of the commission at Muskogee. Each one was anxious, apparently to secure the land which he had selected as a home before some other citizen should claim it.
It took some time and much patient labor to carry out the provisions of the Curtis Act, but by 1901 the Government of the United States was almost in complete control in the Indian Territory. The tribal governments were still
2Act of March 3, 1901, 31, Statutes, 1447. Cited in Report of Department of Interior, Indian Affairs, Part II, 1901, p. 226. Act of March 1, 1901, Sen. Doc. 452, 57th Cong., 1st Session, Vol. I, pp. 729-739. President Roosevelt's proclamation ratifying the agreement of 1902, Annual Report of the Department of Interior, Indian Affairs, Part I, p. 463. For text of agreement see Rep. Com. Ind. Aff., 1903, Part I, pp. 98-102.
in existence, but there was left to them very little power, except to act as agents in managing the business of the tribes. There were no courts to enforce tribal laws and the Indians were under the Government of the United States the same as were the people of any state. As the work of the Dawes Commission neared completion, it became clear that Indian Territory and Oklahoma Territory would soon have to be granted statehood. It also became increasingly clear that Congress would never consent to making two states of this region, but that these "Twin Territories," so different in every respect except size, were to be joined to make one state. Many people in both territories opposed this and insisted that each territory be admitted as a separate state. Some of these people urged action upon Congress, and used every effort to get their own territory admitted as one state.1
By the terms of tribal agreements with the United States, the governments of the Five Civilized Tribes were to be terminated March 4, 1906. As the time for the dissolution of tribal relations drew near, it was evident that some other form of civil organization would have to be substituted.2
Accordingly, the principal chiefs of four of the Five Civilized Tribes joined in a call for a constitutional convention to meet at Muskogee, Creek Nation, on August 21, 1905.3 Pleasant Porter, principal chief of the Creek
3We, the chief executives of the Cherokee, Choctaw, Seminole, and Creek Nations, have in conference greed to carry out the call for a constitutional convention made by the principal chief of the Choctaw Nation and the principal chief of the Cherokee Nation, for August 21, 1905, as being adequate and binding upon all the Nations under their compact to convene at the call of the chief executives of the nation wherein the recording town is located. The original call for this convention is hereby modified and extended as follows:
On or before the 5th day of August each chief executive in jurisdiction as above specified will designate such persons as he deems proper to act as presiding officer of said mass meeting for the selection of such delegates and alternates.
If, for any reason, such presiding officer should not appear and preside, then the meeting is authorized to fill the vacancy. A list of the delegates and alternates selected at such meetings shall at once be certified by the chairman to the chief executives of such nations and such certificates thereupon being endorsed by such chief executives shall constitute credentials necessary to entitle such delegates and alternates to membership in the constitutional convention to be held August 21, 1905. The convention when assembled shall have full power to direct its subsequent proceedings.
W. C. Rogers, Prin. Chief Cherokee Nation.
Green McCurtain, Prin. Chief Choctaw Nation.
P. Porter, Prin. Chief Creek Nation.
J. F. Brown, Prin. Chief Seminole Nation.
Geo. W. Scott, Secretary, Kinta.
From History of the State of Oklahoma, by Luther B. Hill, Vol. 1 Page 350.
Nation, was elected president of the convention, and Alexander Posey, also of the Creek Nation, was elected secretary. William H. Murray of Tishomingo, Chickasaw Nation, was the representative for the Chickasaw chief.1 All
1For details of organization see Allen, The "Sequoyah" Movement, pp. 31-32.
Alexander Lawrence Posey was born August 3, 1873, near Eufaula, in the Creek Nation. His father was a white man of Scotch-Irish descent, born about 1842, and a native of the Indian Territory, being the son of white intruders in the Cherokee Nation.
Alexander Posey's mother was a full-blood Creek Indian. Until he was twelve years old he spoke only the mother tongue of the Greek or Muskogee Indians. Then his father, who was in independent circumstances, employed a private teacher and compelled the son to learn to speak English. A year or two later he was sent to the public (tribal) school at Eufaula. When he was seventeen years old he entered Bacone University, at Muskogee. There he acted as librarian, learned to set type in the printing office of the Instructor, a small paper published by the faculty, and discovered his own bent for literary work. In October, 1892, he published "The Comet's Tale," a poem of nearly three columns which gave the Indian tradition of the coming of the first ships of the white men to discover America. Other contributions followed. Immediately after his graduation, in 1895, he entered Creek politics, being elected to the House of Warriors, which was the popular branch of the Creek legislative council. In 1896 he was appointed superintendent of the Creek Orphan Asylum, at Okmulgee. In May of that year he married Miss Minnie Harris of Fayetteville, Arkansas, who was a teacher in the same institution. In October, 1897, he resigned his position as superintendent of the Orphan Asylum and, two months later, he was appointed superintendent of public instruction for the Creek Nation. All this time he was writing as inspiration prompted, his wife assuming the management of his business affairs in order that he might not be disturbed in his literary work. He soon resigned his official position to settle on his farm, near Stidham. He was a great lover of nature and seemed to hold communion with the birds, bees and flowers. Then he was called to the superintendency of the Creek National High School, at Eufaula. Having rehabilitated that, he was asked to do the same for a similar institution at Wetumka, but he soon relinquished that to take charge of the publication of the Indian Journal, at Eufaula. There he had his greatest literary opportunity, developing marked ability as a satirist and causing his fame to spread far beyond the bounds of the Creek Nation. His inimitable "Fus Fixico" letters, in which he humorously discussed the white man's politics through the medium of dialogues between some fictitious characters who were typical of the older and more conservative Creek full-blood element. Wolf Warrior, Hot Gun and others, who talked in the Creek-English dialect, were widely copied by the press of states far from Oklahoma, where the real force of their satire could not be appreciated because of the fact that its objects were unknown. Because of his sympathy for the ignorant people of his tribe, whose interests were jeopardized in the readjustment incident to the allotment of lands in severalty, he gave up newspaper work to become a field agent of the Dawes Commission, in which capacity he rendered valuable service. In 1905 he was selected as a delegate to the Sequoyah Constitutional Convention and was chosen as its Secretary. The simple, terse, clear English of the instrument framed by that convention is said to have been largely due to the writing and revising of Alexander Posey. May 25th, 1908, he was drowned in the North Canadian River—the loved Oktahutchee of his dreams and poems. His pen name was Chinnubie Harjo. His poems were distinguished for their strength, beauty and sentiment, and many of them were veritable music in words. "Bob White," "To an Indian Meadow Lark," "Nightfall," "Trysting in the Clover," "The Homestead of Empire," and "The Red Man's Pledge of Peace," are some of his most notable compositions.
From, History of Oklahoma, by Joseph B. Thoburn. Vol. 2, page 826.
representatives of the Indian Territory were invited to send delegates to this convention. Possibly the most important feature of this meeting was the spirit of co-operation exhibited in the first instance of attempted political unity between the whites and the Indians of this territory.
W. W. Hastings, of Tahlequah, was named chairman of a committee to draw up a constitution. In due time the constitution for Indian Territory was written and presented to the convention. "Sequoyah" was the name proposed for the new state. This was in honor of the great Cherokee.1
Provision was made to submit the constitution to a vote of the people on November 7, 1905. The voters of Indian Territory who were interested enough to go to the polls ratified the constitution by a vote of 56,279 to 9,073.2 However, these figures do not give a fair showing of the attitude on single or double statehood. Those who voted against the constitution could not vote for the officers to be elected under it nor for the county seats in the forty-eight counties created by the proposed constitution. Hence many people voted for the measure simply because they
did not want to be denied the right of suffrage in case it passed. Most of the inhabitants of Indian Territory who where opposed to separate statehood did not vote at all. Not over one-half of the qualified voters took part in the election. There were 500,000 people in the Indian Territory in 1905.1 There must have been at least 130,000 voters out of such a large number.
The so-called Sequoyah plan for an Indian Territory state chid not receive any consideration at Washington. Apparently all this work was in vain. Nevertheless, the political experience developed in the Muskogee meeting served Indian Territory well when it came to writing a constitution and erecting a state government for Oklahoma. When the Oklahoma Constitutional Convention met a year later at Guthrie, a group of delegates who had worked together at the Sequoyah Convention controlled it. Much to the chagrin of Oklahoma Territory, Indian Territory dictated the policies of the Guthrie meeting. Two of the most prominent members of the latter meeting were William H. Murray, of the Chickasaw Nation, and Charles N. Haskell, vice-president for the Creeks at the Muskogee meeting.2
Some prominent representatives from the Creek Nation who participated in the work of the Sequoyah Convention were Pleasant Porter, Alexander Posey, Charles N. Haskell, S. M. Rutherford, Leo E. Bennett, George W. Grayson, John Thomas, Cheesie McIntosh, J. A. Norman, who was responsible for the meeting, C. E. Foley, Judge Fears, A. L. Beck, Ben Lafayette, H. B. Spaulding, and Senator Harry Beeler.3
At the beginning of the first session of the Fifty-ninth Congress, statehood bills were introduced in both houses. The House of Representatives passed a bill which was known as the Omnibus Statehood Bill, providing for the admission of two states, one to be composed of the Indian Territory and Oklahoma Territory combined and the other to be formed by uniting Arizona and New Mexico.4 The
Senate passed a bill which provided for the admission of Oklahoma Territory and Indian Territory as one state. A compromise was finally effected, by means of which the question of single statehood for Arizona and New Mexico was left to a vote of the citizens of those territories. Thus amended, the Omnibus Statehood Bill passed both houses and became a law June 14, 1906. This law became known as the Enabling Act. It authorized the people of Indian Territory and Oklahoma Territory to form and adopt a state constitution.1
The election of delegates to the constitutional convention was held November 6, 1906.2 The delegates being duly elected, the convention met at Guthrie, November 20, 1906. William H. Murray was elected president of the convention. It was in session continuously with the exception of a brief Christmas recess, until the latter part of April, 1907, when it adjourned subject to the call of President Murray. Reconvening in July, the convention modified some parts of the text of the constitution already drafted and adopted an ordinance providing for an election to be held August 6, at which election state officers were to be chosen at the same time the constitution was to be voted upon.3 The election resulted in the adoption of the constitution by an overwhelming majority. President Roosevelt set Saturday, November 16, 1907, as the day for the inauguration of the state government.4
By the terms of the Creek agreement of June 25, 1901, the tribal government of the Creeks was to be abolished March 4, 1906.5 The work of enrollment and allot-
1Constitution and Enabling Act of the State of Oklahoma, pp. 141-157. Amendments, pp. 158-161. From U. S. Statutes, Chap. 3335, 59th Cong., 1st Sess, 1905-1906, Part 1, p. 267. The Oklahoma Red Book, Vol II, p. 20.
3Journal of the Constitutional Convention, pp. 15, 397, 457, and 459-460. The Oklahoma Red Book, Vol. II, p. 20. When the seal for the State of Oklahoma was being planned, the seals of the Five Civilized Tribes were incorporated in it. The lower left hand ray of the five pointed star contains the symbol of the ancient seal of the Creek Nation, "namely: A sheaf of wheat and a plow." Constitution of the State of Oklahoma, Sec. 35 of Art. VI.
ment of land proved to take more time than was anticipated. The work of making the final distribution of tribal property and the winding up of tribal affairs was delayed by acts of congress providing for the enrollment of recently born children. The rolls were not finally closed until March 4, 1907.1
Thus it was found impracticable to abolish the tribal government on March 4, 1906, as it was necessary for the principal chief to continue in office to execute conveyances, etc. Congress therefore by joint resolution on March 2, 1906, continued the existence of the tribal government. Section 28 of this act, which was approved April 26, 1906, contained the following provisions:
"That the tribal government of the Choctaw, Chickasaw, Cherokee, Creek, and Seminole tribes or nations are hereby continued in full force and effect for all purposes authorized by law, until otherwise provided by law, but the tribal council or legislature in any of the said tribes or nations shall not be in session for a period longer than thirty days in one year; Provided that no act, ordinance or resolutions (except resolutions of adjournment) of the tribal council or legislature of any of said tribes or nations shall be of any validity until approved by the President of the United States: and Provided further, That no contract involving the payment or expenditure of money or affecting any property belonging to any of said tribes or nations made by them, or any of them, or by any officer thereof, shall be of any validity until approved by the President of the United States."
This act placed the collection of all tribal revenue and the disbursement of all tribal funds of the nation in the hands of the Secretary of Interior, and abolished all tribal taxes collected under tribal laws. Tribal schools were placed under the control of the Secretary of Interior and a superintendent of schools and four supervisors. The Creek and Seminole schools were placed under one supervisor.
This act further provided that acting tribal officers on the date of its approval hold their positions; and in case the chief executive of any tribe refuse or neglect to per-
form his duties he could be removed by the President of the United States, and in case of vacancy it should be filled by appointment by the President.1
To carry out the provisions of the Indian Appropriations Act of April 30, 1908, the documents, records, and papers belonging to the Creeks were turned over to the Commissioner of the Five Civilized Tribes at Muskogee, and the Secretary of the Interior took charge of all the tribal property.2 Thus ended the history of the Creek Nation but not the history of the Creek Indians. During the course of the next few months the writer hopes to continue this study of the Creek Indiana, bringing out events, customs, and statistics, regarding this tribe which have failed to find a place in the articles just finished.
1Rep. Com. Ind. Aff., 1906, p. 153. Sen. Doc. 719, 62nd Cong. 2nd Sess., Joint Resolutions of the 59th Cong., 1st Sess., 1906, p. 262. Also (Public Acts) pp. 169-181 U. S. Statutes, Chap. 1876, p. 137.