By Dan W. Peery
In the early days of Oklahoma the writer remembers having heard an enthusiastic and verbose public orator say, "A whole lot of things have come to pass that would not have come to pass if certain things had not transpired." This was self-evident and would admit of no argument for most every event depends upon something that has gone before. Small and apparently inconsequential events often change the trend of individual lives. The plans, ambitions and future careers that are cherished by youth are often turned awry, and the mature man finds himself an altogether different person with different thoughts and different ideals. Sometimes human destiny is but the culmination of a long series of events and, so it would seem, the future of a whole people is determined by unforseen things which at the time seemed of but little consequence.
Oklahoma as we know it today is but the culmination of a long series of events—events that were not co-ordinated and did not seem to have any relation to each other. It is certain that neither the politicians, who had in mind only temporary expediency, nor the statesmen who had broader views of government, looking to the future, and whose ideals were based upon eternal principles, ever intended that the country now known as Oklahoma should be settled by the white race and admitted to the Union as one of the sovereign states. This thought was too far ahead for the men who were making the laws in the first half of the 19th century. Was not a great and rich state here in the land of the west ordained by an over-ruling Providence, running like a thread through all these events tending to one end—the adding of the 46th star to the American flag? Oklahoma was certainly not an accident. Then it must have been destiny—a decree of Providence that could not have been averted by treaties or by laws created by legislative bodies.
It would seem almost providential that Oklahoma and in fact the country west of the Mississippi is included in the United
States of America, rather than being a part of the Spanish domain or a colony of France or else a part of the British possession. When President Jefferson nominated Robert R. Livingston, "an able and honorable man," to quote the words of Jefferson, as minister plenipotentiary to France for the purpose of negotiating a treaty with France that would give the United States possession of the mouth of the Mississippi River and make the river free for the commerce of America, France had only recently acquired the country west of the Mississippi from Spain. In fact the transfer had not been entirely closed. It has been said that, at that time, one-third of our agricultural exports were shipped from the port at the mouth of the Mississippi, and in the past our government had been having some misunderstanding with Spain as to our exports from New Orleans. Secretary of State, Madison, in a letter to our Minister to Spain speaks of "the spoilations committed on our trade, for which Spain is held responsible, are known to be already of great amount," and to have an understanding with France as to our rights on the river and at the shipping port was one object to be included in a treaty with France. We have no records official or unofficial that President Jefferson gave Robert R. Livingston plenary authority to buy all the land west of the Mississippi included in the territory that now constitutes fourteen states in the Union. What the private understanding was as to the negotiations with the diplomats of France will always be in doubt. Jefferson was a strict constructionist and he had never found any authority granted in the constitution that would authorize the president to buy another country,—nor had he found anything in that instrument that would prevent the sovereign authority from buying a continent. Livingston found everything favorable and the proposition of buying the whole of Louisiana practically fell into his hands. While these negotiations were pending Jefferson appointed James Monroe, with full power to represent the United States, to assist Livingston in negotiating the deal for the "cession of New Orleans and Florida to the United States and the establishment of the Mississippi as the boundary between the United States and Louisiana." It was quite evident that the administration at Washington did not know the extent of the treaty and the vast domain that Livingston was negotiating for in the treaty. In fact the negotiations between Livingston representing the United States and Napoleon,
represented by his sagacious diplomat, Talleyrand, had been practically agreed upon before the arrival of Monroe. When Monroe arrived he fully approved of Livingston's agreement with the French government. It would seem by reading the story of the Louisiana purchase that even our representatives were not so anxious to secure the whole of that vast territory, but they were getting what they went after, and this great unknown part of the country was wished off on them. Could this, while anxious to acquire everything west of the Mississippi, yet seeming not to want it, have been Livingston's shrewd way of trading? That Livingston did fully realize the plenary importance of the treaty, I will quote from his own words: "We have lived long but this is the noblest work of our whole lives."
The western boundary of that vast country was not known, but in a general way it was to extend to the mountains. When that great treaty was signed April 30, 1803, the United States came into possession of all the country from the Mississippi west as far as Spain made claims before that Nation sold Louisiana to France. Somewhere along the south line of the domain conveyed was the future Oklahoma. The signing of this treaty was the initial movement that not only made Oklahoma a state in the Union, but also added Missouri, Iowa, Arkansas, Kansas, Nebraska, South Dakota, and Louisiana, and while the western boundary line is indefinite, yet a part of Colorado, Wyoming, Montana, North Dakota and Minnesota was also included in the bounds of the Louisiana purchase. Although it would be useless to try to surmise, yet if the United States had not acquired this vast territory, it would now either be a French colony or else belong to Great Britain and be a part of the Dominion of Canada and Oklahoma—Oh, well, it would be profitless to surmise further!
This treaty had hardly been ratified until a movement was started to remove all the Indians east of the Mississippi to the newly acquired land in the west. Even Jefferson expressed himself often that if he could move the Indians west and found a new Indian territory west of the river, it would remove the immediate cause of Indian wars. Probably the reason that appealed mostly to those early settlers was, if the Indians were removed west, their reservations could be settled upon by white people and the danger of future Indian wars would be abated.
The government at once began negotiations with the chiefs of the many tribes of Indians that had their reservations around the great lakes and in Illinois, Wisconsin, and even in New York, to exchange their lands for land west of the Mississippi. Some of the smaller tribes agreed to go voluntarily and some bands and family groups of Indians migrated west without any definite agreement with the government. It took several years to negotiate these Indian treaties and to find suitable land on which to locate the various tribes. Most of the reservations for these Indians from the east side of the Mississippi, were selected in the territory that afterwards became Kansas and Nebraska. In the negotiations with the Sac and Fox Indians the government had trouble which resulted in what is known as the Black Hawk War. There were two factions in the "hyphenated tribe"—one recognized Keokuk as chief and the other faction took orders from Black Hawk. Keokuk and his followers accepted the government's edict and located on a large reservation in Iowa (soon to be taken from them, however). As to which faction was right we do not have space to discuss the question, but having recently read an autobiography of Chief Black Hawk, the writer finds himself a convert to the side of this intelligent Chief. I am sure that if he could have presented the case of the United States vs. Black Hawk to an unprejudiced jury, it would have decided in favor of the defendant.
The reason I have spoken of all these northern tribes is that their final location was in Oklahoma and their civilization and education became an Oklahoma problem. While I have spoken first of the smaller tribes and their removal, yet this was only secondary to the great migration of the Five Civilized tribes—all locating in the territory that is now the State of Oklahoma. I will not attempt to discuss the question, or the many questions involved in the movement of the Five tribes. There are many books in the libraries giving the history of this great epochal event and the Chronicles has published many articles, written by historians, to which every research student has access.
The title to land given to the Indian tribes located in Oklahoma was different to that given to the smaller tribes that had been located in Kansas and Nebraska by executive order. The Choctaws, Cherokees, and Creeks were each given a patent to
their reservations signed by the president and the secretary of state. The Creeks afterwards conveyed a part of their reservation to the Seminoles while the Choctaws deeded, with the consent of the United States, that part of their reservation known as the Chickasaw district to the Chickasaws. Each of the Five tribes set up their own tribal government, fashioned after the government of the United States, with legislative, judicial and executive departments.
When these Indians were moved, all of Kansas, as well as the Indian territory, was called Indian territory. The lines had not been established on the east or north as we know them today. Many white settlers had located in the Territory of Arkansas which had at that time no definite western boundary. Some of the early settlers had selected their homesteads across the line in to the territory that had been patented to the Cherokees. In fact Lovell County, Arkansas, lapped over in to what is now Oklahoma.1
Acting under the provisions of the Cherokee treaty of 1828, the Rev. Isaac McCoy, a missionary among the Cherokees, who was also a civil engineer, made a survey to establish the boundaries of the lands acquired by the Cherokees including the outlet west to the 100th meridian. The Kansas-Nebraska bill, which had much to do with the subject of "Free soil and slavery," became a law in 1854. This bill fixed the south line of Kansas on the 37th degree of north latitude. The Surveyor General of the United States designated Gen. Joseph E. Johnston as chief engineer to make a survey that would fix the south line of Kansas. This survey being made under government authority is the established south line of Kansas, but there is a discrepancy of about two and one-half miles between McCoy's survey and the one made by the government and the Cherokees claimed that Kansas was getting a part of their land. The government suvey was official.
After the passage of the Kansas-Nebraska bill which would make those two states free-soil, providing the people voted to be
1A very comprehensive article written by Joseph Stanley Clark on the subject, "The Eastern Boundary of Oklahoma" was published in Chronicles of Oklahoma, Vol. II, No. 4. The article shows thorough research on the part of the Author and the many references and citations to original sources makes certain its authenticity.
free—in other words slavery would not be permitted in any of the country north of parallel 37, there was a great migration into Kansas at that time. The sentiment was strong in the East, more especially in the New England states, to prevent human slavery in both Kansas and Nebraska. Those New England people were almost unanimously abolitionists and were willing to make any sacrifice to prevent the spread of slave holding territory. Many thousands of them came to Kansas and Nebraska from the New England states, more especially from Massachusetts, to take up land under the homestead laws with the object of acquiring a home and making those new states free. They had in mind making a great free commonwealth in Kansas and Nebraska, but when they came to enter these lands under the homestead pre-emption laws they found that they were surrounded by Indian reservations and that there was a comparatively small part of eastern Kansas or Nebraska subject to white settlement. There were Indian reservations on every hand and there was not much opportunity to build a state where white men could not acquire homes.2 The thoughts of these settlers were: "What are we to do with the Indians residing here and most of the best land in Indian reservations?" The same problem had confronted their forefathers, and the Indians were moved west; the same problem
2The Oklahoma Historical Society has in its archives a rare old map: "Eastman's Map of Nebraska and Kanzas Territory, showing the location of the Indian Reserves, according to the Treaties of 1854, Compiled by S. Eastman, Captain U. S. Army, From Actual Surveys." The following statement written in longhand authenticates the map. "I have examined the map in regard to the Indian reservations and find same to be correct. Geo. W. Manypenny, Commissioner of Indian Affairs, The Indian Office, Washington, Sept. 5, 1854." Most all of these reservations were occupied by Indians who had been moved from the East. The map also shows the hunting grounds of the Sioux, Nebraskas, and the Arapahoes and Cheyennes to the south and west, also the Kiowas and Comanches.
The Osages had a large reservation, according to this map, along the southern boundary line of Kansas. North of them there was a long tract of land marked "original reservation for New York Indians," then there were reservations for the Miamis, the Plankahas, Peorias, and Kansans. The Sac and Fox reservation consisted of 435,200 acres, the Kansas Indians 356,000 acres and the Shawnees 160,000 acres, the Delaware reservation of 275,000 acres on the north side of the Kaw River extended to where Kansas City is now located down to the Wyandottes. The Wyandotte and Pottawatomie reservation of 376,000 acres in the vicinity of Topeka and a long strip marked the Delaware Outlet, north of that the reservation for the Kickapoos of 768,000 acres extending east to the Missouri River and to Fort Leavenworth, another small reservation of the Sac and Fox of 138,000 acres, the Iowa reservation of 126,000 acres, a reservation for half-breeds along the Missouri River north in Nebraska and other smaller reservations.
had confronted the people of Ohio, Illinois, and Wisconsin and the Indians were again moved west and now they were located in Kansas and Nebraska and there was no place to move them. The eastern part of Kansas and Nebraska and the western part of these states was occupied as the hunting grounds of the wild Indians—the Arapahoes and Cheyennes, the Kiowas and Comanches, and other wild tribes, and they resented the white occupancy of their lands. The only outlet the Settlers could possibly see for these Indians was south of 37 in the Indian territory, but the Indian territory had all been deeded to the Five tribes and there was no place for them unless those tribes could be induced to sell a great part of their lands to the United States.
On the other hand, the Five Civilized tribes had all migrated from southern states. There were many white intermarried citizens, while quite a large percent of some of these tribes were of mixed blood. Coming from the south their sympathies were with the south. When the Civil War came on a large number of the best educated and most prosperous members of the Cherokees, Choctaws and Chickasaws were owners of Negro slaves and as the slavery issue was primarily responsible for the war, these tribes were largely in sympathy with the south in the secession movement in 1861. It is true that the Indians tried to be neutral in this war, but the slave holding Indians knew well that if the north won, slavery would be abolished in the Indian Territory as well as throughout the south. Yet, however, the larger part of Indians were not slave holders and really not in sympathy with human slavery and their sympathies were with the north when the issues were to be decided by the arbitrament of war. The southern branch was soon induced to declare their allegiance to the southern confederacy and when the confederate congress was organized they were represented by prominent Indians and slave holders. They organized several regiments for service in the Confederate army. The records show that there were some 2300 enlistments from the Indian Territory, including all branches of the service, in the Confederate army. But, as stated above, the feeling was not unanimous for the south. Perhaps the Choctaw and Chickasaw Nations were the strongest southern tribes. The Cherokees, Creeks and Seminoles were about evenly divided. There were several regiments of Indian soldiers represented in
the union cause—recruits from the Creeks, Cherokees and Seminoles. The whole country was a boiling caldron of fratricidal strife, not the fault of the Indians themselves, but of their civilized white brethren.
The fact that so many of the Indians of the five tribes had cast their lot with the south was the opportunity that the settlers of Kansas wanted. From the beginning of the war the Kansas politicians wanted the government to declare all treaties made with the five tribes forfeited, and that the Indians living on reservations in Kansas be given like reservations on the surplus lands in the Indian territory. Resolutions were passed by the legislature of Kansas and petitions were sent to Washington but no official action was taken while the country was yet in war.
In the report of the Commissioner of Indian Affairs for 1865, we find some very interesting history of the different councils held at the close of the war and the exactions made of the representatives of the five tribes. On page 295 we find a letter signed by J. J. Reynolds, Major General, to Hon. James Harlan, Secretary of the Interior, which is in part as follows:
"Little Rock, Arkansas,
"A great council of Indians was held at Camp Napoleon3 on May 24, 1865, at which the Cherokees, Choctaws, Chickasaws, Creeks, Comanches, Seminoles, Northern Osages, Kiowas, Arapahoes, Lipans and Anadarkoes are said to have been represented. A solemn league of peace and friendship was entered into between them and resolutions were passed expressive of their purposes and wishes. They appointed Commissioners not to exceed 5 in each nation, to visit Washington for conference."
From subsequent developments, the government at Washington did not care to treat with so large a commission nor one representing so many tribes, and then, the government did not regard the council at Cottonwood Grove, known as Camp Napoleon (now in western part of Grady County, Oklahoma ) as being in any way official and not authorized by government.
3See page 359, Chronicles of Oklahoma, Vol. 9. Article by Dr. Anna Lewis, Professor of History, Oklahoma College for Women. Also a picture of the granite marker erected at Verden (formerly Cotton Wood Grove) on the Washita River west of Chickasha.
Later in the year a grand council was called by the President of the United States, through the department of the Interior, to which a summons was issued to each of the five tribes to send representatives. This call was mandatory as far as it related to all Indian tribes which had been identified by treaty or otherwise with the late southern confederacy. Word was also given to other tribes, many of whom had reservations in Kansas. This council was to be held at Ft. Smith, Arkansas. D. N. Cooley, president of the southern treaty commission, was the presiding officer. There were hundreds of Indians there representing many tribes when the council convened September 8, 1865. The United States was represented by D. N. Cooley, President; Wm. S. Harney, U. S. Army; Elijah Sells and Ely S. Parker, Commissioners, and Thos. Wistar. There were also a number of United States Indian agents present, several of them from Kansas.
Milton W. Reynolds, who was one of Oklahoma's early journalists, was present and reported the Ft. Smith council for the New York Tribune. In an introduction to Mrs. Marion Tuttle Rock's Illustrated History of Oklahoma, 1890, Mr. Reynolds, speaking of the Ft. Smith Council, says, "It was largely a Kansas idea, and prominent Kansas men were there to enforce it. General Blair and Hon. Ben. McDonald, brother of Senator McDonald, of Arkansas, Gen. Blunt, Eugene Ware, C. F. Drake, the Fort Scott banker, and other were present as persistent inside counsellors and lobbyists." While we are quoting from what Milton W. Reynolds said of the white representatives at this council, we will quote further his opinion of the delegates who represented the Five tribes. "The representatives of the Indian tribes were no less conspicuous and brilliant. Indeed, if the truth must be told, so far as power of expression, knowledge of Indian treaties, and real oratory were concerned, the Indians had decidedly the advantage. Their great leaders, John Ross and Col. Pitchlyn, were still living, and were active participants in the grand council. John Ross had been chief of the Cherokees for over forty years. He had governed wisely and well, and no one man ever had such a power over the Cherokees as had this noted chief. Col. E. C. Boudinot was then comparatively a young man, but he was then, as now, the most gifted and powerful in eloquence of all the Cherokees. He was just out of the Confederate Congress
at Richmond, as delegate from the Cherokees. He was fiery and excitable, but not pyrotechnic and lurid. His eloquence was heroic and impassioned, but not vapid or ebullient. He was a pronounced figure in the convention, and though difficult to restrain, he gradually became conservative, and his ancient loyalty to the Government was restored, and from that day to this no man among the Cherokees has been more loyal to the flag nor more desirous of carrying out the known policy of the Government towards the Cherokees and other Indian tribes. Mayes was then an unknown quantity. Ex-Chief Bushyhead has acquired his fame among his people since the date of that council."
The council at Ft. Smith met September 8, and remained in session until September 21, 1865. The proceedings are given in full in the report of D. N. Cooley, president of the treaty commission and published in the report of the Commissioner of Indian Affairs, 1865. After the preliminaries were disposed of the council took up the real business for which it was called. Cooley's report reads:
"On the second day, (Saturday, September 9,) after council met, I addressed the Indians, in which I stated that the commissioners had considered the talks of the Indians on the preceding day, and had authorized me to submit the following statement and propositions, as the basis on which the United States were prepared to negotiate with them:
" 'Brothers: We are instructed by the President to negotiate a treaty or treaties with any or all of the nations, tribes, or bands of Indians in the Indian territory, Kansas, or of the plains west of the Indian territory and Kansas.
" 'The following named nations and tribes have by their own acts, by making treaties with the enemies of the United States at the dates hereafter named, forfeited all right to annuities, lands, and protection by the United States.
" 'The different nations and tribes having made treaties with the rebel government are as follows, viz: The Creek nation, July 10, 1861; Choctaws and Chickasaws, July 12, 1861; Seminoles, August 1, 1861; Shawnees, Delawares, Wichitas and affiliated tribes residing in leased territory, August 12, 1861; the Comanches
of the Prairie, August 12, 1861; the Great Osages, October 21, 1861; the Senecas, Senecas and Shawnees, (Neosho agency,) October 4, 1861; the Quapaws, October 4, 1861; the Cherokees, October 7, 1861.
" 'By these nations having entered into treaties with the so-called Confederate States, and the rebellion being now ended, they are left without any treaty whatever or treaty obligations for protection by the United States.
" 'Under the terms of the treaties with the United States, and the law of Congress of July 5, 1862, all these nations and tribes frofeited and lost all their rights to annuities and lands. The President, however, does not desire to take advantage of or enforce the penalties for the unwise actions of these nations.
" 'The President is anxious to renew the relations which existed at the breaking out of the rebellion.
" 'We, as representatives of the President, are empowered to enter into new treaties with the proper delegates of the tribes located within the so called Indian territory, and others above named, living west and north of the Indian territory.
" 'Such treaties must contain substantially the following stipulations:
" '1. Each tribe must enter into a treaty for permanent peace and amity with themselves, each nation and tribe, and with the United States.
" '2. Those settled in the Indian territory must bind themselves, when called upon by the government, to aid in compelling the Indians of the plains to maintain peaceful relations with each other, with the Indians in the territory, and with the United States.
" '3. The institution of slavery, which has existed among several of the tribes, must be forthwith abolished, and measures taken for the unconditional emancipation of all persons held in bondage, and for their incorporation into the tribes on an equal footing with the original members, or suitably provided for.
" '4. A stipulation in the treaties that slavery, or involuntary servitude, shall never exist in the tribe or nation, except in punishment of crime.
" '5. A portion of the lands hitherto owned and occupied by you must be set apart for the friendly tribes in Kansas and elsewhere, on such terms as may be agreed upon by the parties and approved by government, or such as may be fixed by the government.
" '6. It is the policy of the government, unless other arrangement be made, that all the nations and tribes in the Indian territory be formed into one consolidated government after the plan proposed by the Senate of the United States, in a bill for organinzing the Indian territory.
" '7. No white person, except officers, agents, and employes of the government, or of any internal improvement authorized by the government, will be permitted to reside in the territory, unless formally incorporated with some tribes, according to the usages of the band.
" 'Brothers: You have now heard and understand what are the views and wishes of the President; and the commissioners, as they told you yesterday, will expect definite answers from each of you upon the questions submitted.
" 'As we said yesterday, we say again, that, in any event, those who have always been loyal, although their nation may have gone over to the enemy, will be liberally provided for and dealt with.' "
These stipulations of the government were even more drastic than the Indians had supposed they would be. Especially were the so called loyal Indians disappointed in the demands of the government agents.4 The arguments on these provisions occupied
4It would seem by the report of the Commissioner of Indian Affairs, 1865, that some of the more prominent Cherokees who came before the council at Ft. Smith claiming to have been loyal to the Union in the late war had been closely identified with the Confederates at the beginning of hostilities. The Commissioner claims that John Ross, perhaps the most prominent chief and influential leader of the Nation, at first identified himself with the southern cause and through his influence and prestige hundreds of followers enlisted in the Confederate Army. They claim that after Ross's political enemies among the Cherokees joined the southern army, Ross, himself, went to Washington and there claimed to be in full sympathy with the Union side. It is no doubt true that he spent most of his time throughout the period of he Civil War in the National Capital or else with relatives of his wife in Pennsylvania. The Commissioners sent to treat with the Five Civilized tribes seemed to have known all about Ross's career during the period of the war, and refused to recognize him as spokesman for the Cherokees. It would seem from the following proceedings that the members of the Commission impeached him. So Oklahoma early formed the habit of impeaching chiefs and governors.
(It is only fair to state that the Cherokees did not recognize this impeachment of Ross by the United States officials, but he was chief until his death in August 1866.)
The following is an excerpt from the proceedings of the council on the sixth day—September 14, 1865.
"The council then adjourned for an afternoon session, and upon reassembling I read for the information of the various delegations in attendance a paper signed by the members of the commission declining to recognize John Ross as principal of the Cherokees. It is as follows:
" 'Whereas John Ross, an educated Cherokee, formerly chief of the nation, became the emissary of the States in rebellion, and, by means of his superior education and ability as such emissary, induced many of his people to abjure their allegiance to the United States and to join the States in rebellion, inducing those who were warmly attached to the government to aid the enemies thereof; and whereas he now sets up claim to the office of principal chief, and lay his subtle influence is at work poisoning the minds of those who are truly loyal; and whereas he is endeavoring by his influence as pretended first chief to dissuade the loyal delegation of Cherokees, now at this council, from a free and open expression of their sentiments of loyalty to the United States; and whereas he has been for two days in the vicinity of our council-room (without coming into the same) at this place, disaffecting the Cherokees and persuading the Creeks not to enter into treaty stipulations which were arranged for the benefit of the loyal Creeks and of the United States; and whereas he is, by virtue of his position as pretended first chief of the Cherokees, exercising an influence in his nation, and at this council, adverse to the wishes and interest of all loyal and true Indians and of the United States; and whereas we believe him still at heart an enemy of the United States, and disposed to breed discord among his people, and that he does not represent the will and wishes of the loyal Cherokees, and is not the choice of any considerable portion of the Cherokee nation for the office which he claims, but which by their law we believe he does not in fact hold:
" 'Now, therefore, we, the undersigned commissioners, sent by the President of the United States to negotiate treaties with the Indians of the Indian Territory and southwest, having knowledge of the facts above recited, refuse as commissioners in any way or manner to recognize said Ross as chief of the Cherokee nation.
" 'Witness our hands, at Fort Smith, Arkansas, this 15th day of September 1865.
D. N. COOLEY, President.
WM. S. HARNEY,
Brigadier General U. S. Army, Commissioner.
ELIJAH SELLS, Commissioner.
ELY S. PARKER, Commissioner.
THOMAS WISTAR' "
Report of Commissioner of Indian Affairs, 1865, pp. 304-5.
several days. The representatives of the five tribes knew that slavery was dead and that involuntary servitude was forever abolished, but they did not want their freed negroes made citizens of their tribes with all rights, and claims, to the common property as Indians by blood. Each tribe had its own chief and public officials and did not want to adopt Section 6 which provided that
all the nations and tribes in the Indian Territory be formed into one consolidated government after the plan proposed by the Senate of the United States in a bill for the organization of the Indian Territory. This was a proposition that the government pushed long after the signing of the treaties, but never had the approval of the individual Indian tribes.
The proposition to set apart a large portion of their lands for friendly tribes of Indians in Kansas, and elsewhere, required much explanation as to the amount of land and upon what terms and conditions and could not be settled in the turmoil and confusion of that Ft. Smith council in 1865. The Indian Commissioners fully appreciated the fact that the government intended taking over much of their land as a penalty for their participation in the war on the side of the confederacy.
Notwithstanding the many objections, the representatives of the five tribes were inclined to accept the proposition made by the government. In fact they were in no position to reject them. There was a general understanding as to what the stipulations of the government would be, but no attempt was made to reduce them to the formula of treaties at Ft. Smith in 1865. In fact there were points that each side wanted to adjust before the treaties should be signed.
The year 1866 was the real treaty making year. More treaties and agreements were made with the Indians that year than were made in any one year in our history. It was agreed before the adjournment of the Ft. Smith council that delegates should be sent to Washington for the purpose of concluding formal treaties with each tribe or nation for the settlement of differences and for re-establishing the Indians on their lands and to settle all disputes between the so called loyal Indians and those Who participated in the confederacy. With the purpose in view of concluding these treaties, representatives of the five tribes arrived in Washington early in the year 1866. Each side was ably represented in drafting these treaties and the problems of each tribe were considered separately.
From the report of the Commissioner of Indian Affairs, 1866, the Seminoles were the first to conclude their treaty. In the Seminole treaty, concluded March 21, 1866, "the Indians ceded
to the government the entire domain secured to them by the treaty of 1856, amounting to (estimated) 2,169,080 acres, for which they receive the sum of $235,362. They receive a new reservation of 200,000 acres at the junction of the Canadian River with its north fork, for which they pay $100,000, and the balance (of $225,362) is to be paid to them as follows: $30,000 to establish them upon their new reservation; $20,000 to purchase stock, seeds, and tools; $15,000 for a mill; $50,000 to be invested as a school fund; $20,000 as a national fund; $40,362 for subsistence, and $50,000 for losses of loyal Seminoles, to be ascertained by a board of commissioners. A right of way for railroads is granted through the new reservations, and $10,000, or so much as is necessary, is to be expended for agency buildings. The Indians agree to the establishment, if Congress shall so provide, of a general council in the 'Indian country,' to be annually convened, consisting of delegates from all the tribes in the proportion of their numbers respectively, and to have power to legislate upon matters relating to the intercourse and relations of the several tribes resident in that country, the laws passed to be consistent with treaty stipulations and the Constitution of the United States. This council is to be presided over by the Superintendent of Indian Affairs. (It will be seen hereafter that this plan is more fully carried into effect in the treaty with the Choctaws and Chickasaws.) The Seminoles ratify the diversion of annuities made during the war for the support of refugees, but the payments due under their former treaties are to be renewed and continued as heretofore. They grant six hundred and forty acres of land to each society which will erect mission or school buildings, to revert, however, to the tribe when no longer used for its proper purpose."
"The next treaty in this series was made with the confederated nations of Choctaws and Chickasaws: Concluded April 28, 1866; ratification advised, with an amendment, June 28, 1866; amendment accepted July 2, 1866, and proclaimed July 10, 1866.
"This treaty, in its careful attention to all details deemed necessary, is the most complete of the series, and when its various provisions are brought into full operation, will establish the confederated tribes upon a basis of enduring prosperity. It contains, of course, the usual provisions for the re-establishment of peace and friendship, of amnesty, and the abolition of slavery in
every form. The Indians cede to the government the whole of that tract of land known as the 'leased lands,' which have been long held (rented by the government) for the use of Indians removed from Texas, and amounting to 6,800,000 acres. For this the government is to pay $300,000 to be invested at five per cent interest until laws are passed by the Choctaws and Chickasaws providing full rights, privileges, and immunities, and grants of forty acres of land each for their freedmen, which laws are to be passed within two years. If so passed, that sum, with its accumulated interest, is to be paid, three-quarters to the Choctaws and one-quarter to the Chickasaws. If such laws are not passed, then the $300,000 to be kept and used by government for the benefit of the freedmen. Right of way is granted for railroads through the reservations upon compensation for damages done to property, and the tribes may subscribe to the stock of such roads in land, such subscriptions to be first liens on the roads. The provisions in regard to a general council are agreed to with more detail than in the other treaties, and its powers clearly defined, so as to establish, for many purposes not inconsistent with the tribal laws, a territorial government, with the Superintendent of Indian Affairs as governor, the Territory being named 'Oklahoma.' "
The treaty with the Creek Indians was concluded June 14, 1866. The general provision of this was in the language of the Seminole treaty. The provision as to their lands is as follows: "The Indians cede to the government, to be used for the settlement thereon of other Indians, the west half of their domain, estimated at 3,250,560 acres of land, for which the government is to pay $975,168, in the following manner: $200,000 to enable the Creeks to reoccupy and restore their farms and improvements, to pay the damages to mission schools, and to pay the salary of the delegates to Washington; $100,000 to be paid for losses of soldiers enlisted in the United States army, and to loyal refugees and freedmen; $400,000 to be paid per capita to the Creeks as it may accrue from the sale of lands; interest on the last two sums, at five per cent., to be used f or the Creeks, at the discretion of the Secretary of the Interior; and the remaining sum due, or $275,000, is to be invested at five per cent., and, the interest paid to the Indians annually. The amounts due to soldiers and refugees are to be ascertained under direction of the superintendent
and agent, and reported to the department for approval. Right of way for railroads is provided. The western boundary is to be surveyed at the expense of the United States. An amount not exceeding $10,000 is to be expended by the United States in the erection of agency buildings upon the diminshed reservation. The provisions for a general council are the same as in the Seminole treaty. Annuities, as provided in former treaties, are to be renewed and continued. The government to pay $10,000 for expenses of negotiating this treaty, if so much be necessary."
The final treaty with the Cherokees was not concluded, the records show, until July 19, 1866, and was not proclaimed until August 11, 1866. More difficulty was experienced in arriving at the consummation of a treaty with the Cherokees than with any other of the five tribes in the Indian country. They had not come to a full agreement at the Ft. Smith conference the year before and the two factions in the Cherokee Nation prevented any harmonious agreement at the conference table where treaties were consummated. Perhaps more trouble in effecting harmonious treaties was caused by the so called loyal Cherokees as they were wanting many considerations that had not been granted to the Stand Watie and Ridge factions. A number of eminent attorneys were employed by both sides and it was a battle royal for the rights of the two factions that had long existed in the Cherokee Nation. Most all of the provisions that were in the other treaties with the other tribes were included in the Cherokee treaty. The report of the Commissioner of Indian Affairs in 1866 states that provisions were made for the settlement of friendly Indians of other tribes among the Cherokees in two methods; first, by abandoning their own tribal organizations and becoming practically absorbed by the Cherokee Nation; or, second, that the tribes brought into the Cherokee Nation might retain their tribal existence by settling farther west. In either case land occupied by them to be paid for at prices to be agreed upon between the government and the Cherokees. This provision, of course, included the purchase of the Cherokee Outlet at such price as might be agreed upon by representatives of the government and of the Cherokee Nation, but the purchase was to be for locating other friendly tribes of Indians and freedmen thereon. Provisions were included as to the investment of the proceeds. Thirty-five percent.
for education, 15 percent. for an orphan fund, and 50 per cent. for the national fund.
Acting under the provisions of and in conformity with the demand of the government included in the Washington treaties of 1866 for the establishment of a territorial government, a general council of all the tribes was called to meet at Okmulgee in the Creek Nation in September 1870. Indian Superintendent Enoch Hoag presiding. Delegates were present representing most all of the Indian tribes. This was a most important conference as it was intended to unite all tribes under one government to be presided over by a white man, the Commissioner of Indian Affairs. This conference was adjourned from time to time until December 1870 when the council adopted a constitution of and for the Indian Territory. This has always been referred to as the Okmulgee Constitution. It had, no doubt, been proposed, or at least agreed upon, by the department at Washington before the council met, but there was one clause in the so called constitution placed there by the council that caused its repudiation and defeat. This clause provided that the constitution should not be binding upon any nation or tribe unless ratified by the proper authorities of the tribe. When this constitution was submitted to the tribes the voters were against ratification. In fact the five tribes completely repudiated the work of the Okmulgee constitution and each tribe continued to live under its own form of government.
Again we might surmise as to what would have been the future of Oklahoma if the Okmulgee constitution had been ratified and the whole of the Indian Territory made one big territory for Indians. It is certain that there would not have been the great and prosperous state of Oklahoma as we know it today, yet, this was a white man's proposition. As to the ulterior motives behind this proposition it is now too late to consider.5
5If the Okmulgee constitutional convention of 1870 was not held under the auspices of the department at Washington it at least had the full approval of the president and the department of Indian affairs. The real object of the sponsors of this Okmulgee constitution was to do away with all tribal organizations. Some claimed that it would make all the territory public land under the supervision of the United States and would by this make valid and reinstate land grants to millions of acres of land made to the railroads of 1866. Many bills were introduced in Congress to ratify the Okmulgee constitution, and some named the territory to be created "OKLAHOMA." (This name, Oklahoma, having been suggested to the Commissioner at the Ft. Smith council by Rev. Allen Wright of the Choctaws.)
The Okmulgee constitution had met the approval of the department at Washingon. Mr. Delano, then Secretary of the Interior, in giving the official sanction of the government to the establishment of an Indian territorial government, under the supervision of the United States government, said, that his convictions were that as this council had been held under authority of law, and it had resulted in a form of government adopted by the Indians themselves, that it had established a central government in the Indian Territory. The trouble was, in adopting the constitution, or an organic law for the Indian Territory consolidating the tribes all under one government, that when the work of the Okmulgee constitution had to be submitted to the legislative bodies of the five tribes for approval, the councils of the five tribes did not approve of the so called constitution and repudiated the whole proposition.
The reader may find the full proceedings of that Okmulgee council of the Indian Territory in Vol. 3, Chronicles of Oklahoma, 1925, beginning on page 33, April number and continued on page 120 of the June number, and concluded beginning on page 216, September 1925. This last number contains the "Constitution of the Indian Territory" as adopted by the council and rejected by the tribal Indian governments.
As soon as these treaties, known as the treaties of 1866, were consummated and duly ratified they were in full force and effect. The Department of the Interior began at once to remove Indians from the reservations in Kansas to reservations on the land acquired in these treaties with the Five Civilized tribes. So certain that these Indians were to be removed that reservations had practically been selected in the Indian territory before the treaty was ratified. As soon as they had selected their land in the Indian territory, by most of them acre for acre of the land that they were occupying in Kansas, their removal to the new home was commenced. When they abandoned their reservations in Kansas, those reservations became part of the public domain of that state. This land was occupied by white settlers under the homestead and pre-emption laws from 1866 until 1878. Nearly every tribe referred to as occupying land in Kansas had been removed to Indian territory, and still there was unoccupied land in the Indian Territory. The government then decided that it would make Oklahoma the rendezvous of other Indian tribes from other states.
After the Modoc War of 1872-73 the remnants of that small tribe was removed from Oregon to be absorbed by the Cherokees in the northeast corner of their reservation. When the Indian reservations were removed from Kansas and Nebraska, the members of congress from those two states were no longer interested in moving Indians into the Indian territory. In fact they would much prefer not having their neighboring territory filled with representatives of the wild tribes. A change of sentiment came
over the people and the general impression was that there were enough Indians in the Indian territory and, as for removing the Indians from the north, they would have the stubborn opposition of the Indians themselves.
These removals had been made, up to this time, without any special act of Congress, but the Indian department was using the funds appropriated for the expense of that department for the removal of these Indians and the department assumed the authority to bring these Indians into Oklahoma. After the Sioux War and the Little Big Horn fight in 1876 where Custer and his entire command lost their lives, the people in the north would have been glad to have seen all of the Sioux moved south into the Indian territory country. Shortly after that gold was discovered in the Black Hills, which was on the Indian reservations, that country was over-run with white settlers. Of course the Indians objected to this intrusion by the whites and having their rights completely ignored, but nothing could stay the encroachment of the whites into the gold fields on the reservation. A proposition was at once advanced to remove 20,000 Sioux, and affiliated tribes into the outlet—the government to purchase the land under the treaty with the Cherokees of 1866. This proposition had the approval of the gold seekers and the people living in the north part of the United States, but Kansas objected and Texas objected and the Indians of the Five tribes objected, as these lands were to be given only to friendly tribes of Indians, and they did not regard the Sioux as desirable neighbors. As before stated, the department had been removing the Indians without any special legislation and had been using the funds appropriated in the Indian appropriation bill to pay the expense of said removals. When the Indian appropriation bill came up for consideration in the House, February 15, 1877, Mr. Roger Q. Mills, of Texas, offered to amend the bill, adding to the first paragraph the following provisos:6
"Provided, That nothing in this act shall be construed to authorize the removal of the Sioux Indians to the Indian Territory; and the President of the United States is hereby directed to prohibit the removal of any portion of the Sioux Indians to the Indian Territory until the same shall be authorized by an act of Congress hereafter enacted."
This amendment brought on a great deal of discussion. The people from the north and from the eastern states were in favor of the removal of the Sioux into the Cherokee Strip, or into any other unoccupied land in the Indian territory.
Speaking to his amendment, Mr. Roger Q. Mills said: " I hope, Mr. Speaker, I may have the attention of the House. I feel my duty to my constituents requires I should oppose the passage of this bill without the utmost guarantee possible to be written by human hands against the transfer of the Sioux Indians to the Indian Territory.
"Gentlemen say that is wholly unnecessary because the law which authorizes the transfer of these Indians to the Indian Territory has been stricken out of the bill and there is no law to authorize it. We are in the same condition we were twelve months ago, when the Commissioner of Indian Affairs brought before this House a bill to authorize the negotiation of a treaty with the Sioux Indians. The friends who take the view of this question I do, in conjunction with myself, opposed that bill until the Committee on Indian Affairs would agree to a provision absolutely prohibiting the transfer of those Indians to the Indian Territory.
"Why did we do it? Because it is known to all gentlemen here that it is a favorite project of the Administration to concentrate all the Indians throughout the whole United States which can possibly be concentrated there upon that Indian territory; and without positive interdiction of law they will continue to do it. They have done it. They do not wait for authority of law. I want to lay down the interdiction at their feet, saying 'You shall not do it;' and then the President of the United States cannot upon that undertake to go on and put these Indians down there. This would be much the better plan for the Indians themselves, and I am not their advocate; it would be much the better plan for the people living in the States adjacent to the Indian Territory, and much the better plan for the Indians living on that territory and trying to become civilized, who are reaching far up to the comforts of civilization which they desire to enjoy, as well as their white brethren who live around them. It would be unjust to them to place in their midst an element which it is impossible to civilize, and when, with all the appliances the gentle-
man has exercised toward them for many years, they are today as savage as they ever have been."7
Here Mr. Roger Mills, the brilliant statesman from Texas, who still holds the floor, quoted at length from the testimony of an army officer, General Stanley, to the effect that Sioux Indians were not civilized and would not make good neighbors. Mr. Mills continues in behalf of his amendment:
"The only spot in the Indian Territory the Commissioner of Indian Affairs had is a piece of territory obtained from the Creek Indians, and which he obtained on the plighted faith of the Government it would not put upon that spot of land as neighbors any but civilized Indians. When the Commissioner of Indian Affairs, without authority of law, sent gentlemen to negotiate with these Sioux Indians he instructed them to press upon them that they had to go upon the Indian territory, and if they did not go there their rations would be cut off. When that treaty was signed by many of the Sioux chiefs, they came and touched the pen with the declaration that they signed the treaty with the understanding, 'We are not to leave the land of our fathers, and you must go and tell our Father at Washington so.' Notwithstanding that, they have compelled this people to enter into a treaty and send delegates to select the territory the Creek Indians said should not be yielded to any but civilized Indians. This will carry 35,000 irreconcilable savages into the midst of those people who have been struggling for civilization. It will turn them loose upon the State of Texas, which, as the commissioner himself says in his letter, will be an inviting feast to them. Turn them loose there! And he says he will send more troops, more cavalry, down there to guard them. But send 35,000 Sioux to go with the Comanche and, Kiowa Indians, and then there will be no peace on the borders of Texas, no peace in Missouri, no peace in Arkansas, and no peace in Kansas; and the very sparks of civilization itself that have been struggling into existence in the Indian Territory
7It will be remembered that this speech was delivered nearly 60 years ago and since that time both death and education have wrought great changes in all the so called savage tribes. Thousands of the members of the wild tribes are now good farmers and progressive citizens. The Sioux Indians living in the northern states have become almost a self-supporting people and Indian wars are unknown to this generation of Indians.
will be put out in utter darkness forever. These, sir, are the reasons why I object."
Not only did Mills speak in behalf of his amendment, but he had the assistance of his colleagues from Texas, Reagan and Throckmorton. In the course of a short speech favoring the Mills amendment to the Indian appropriation bill, Mr. Throckmorton said:
"The gentleman from Nebraska thinks it perhaps best that these Indians should go to the Indian Territory. Those of us representing the States adjacent to that territory think differently. Already the Government has colonized over eighteen thousand wild Indians there. The Cheyennes and Arapahoes from the north, and the Apaches from New Mexico, besides our own southern Indians, the Comanches, Kiowas, and other tribes, are colonized there and immediately on the border of Texas. To place these northern Sioux there would be unjust to Texas and the neighboring States and an outrage upon the Cherokees, Creeks, Choctaws, and Chickasaws. What would the gentlemen from Nebraska think if we should attempt to send the wild Indians of the south into Nebraska? We, sir, would stand here and aid him to resist such policy. We ask you that these northern savages shall not be sent down on us. I hope the bill will be defeated if the amendment is not adopted."
The amendment of the gentleman from Texas was adopted and the fear that the government would locate the entire Sioux tribe, banished forever.
This was a crisis in the future life of the great state of Oklahoma. Its solution was the decree for the establishment of a future state in the American Union instead of a great Indian reservation in the heart of the United States. To Hon. Roger Q. Mills and the Texas delegation in the 44th Congress, 1877, we are largely indebted for saving Oklahoma and making it a state inhabited by both white and Indians. In appreciation of the service of Roger Mills we have named a county in western Oklahoma, Roger Mills County.
Some three years previous to the proposition to locate the Sioux Indians in Oklahoma, the government under the administration of Gen. U. S. Grant, had turned the department of Indian
Affairs over to the religious sect known as Quakers. These Quaker agents who were in charge of all Indian Agencies were instructed to assist in carrying out the President's policy of concentrating all Indians into the territory that now constitutes the State of Oklahoma. In the old records of the Sac and Fox agency, now in the custody of the Oklahoma Historical Society, we have the following letter:
Lawrence, Kansas, 10/31 1873
John H. Pickering
This letter will introduce to thy acquaintance Maj. J. H. Stout, Agent for the Pimas Indians in Arizona, he has with him a delegation of Indians, and visits the Indian Territory with a view to selecting a location for the tribes, numbering about Forty Five Hundred persons, he proposes to examine the counry west of the Sac and Fox Reserve, between the Red Fork of the Arkansas, and the North Fork of the Canadian, also a section North of the Red Fork, and also perhaps west of the Pottawatomies and Absentee Shawnees, between the North Fork and the Canadian. Thou wilt render the Agent and his party whatever assistance he may need to enable him to accomplish the purpose as indicative,
It would seem by reading this letter that the Grant Administration proposed putting all those Arizona Indians in the unoccupied land which was later opened to settlement April 22, 1889. If this plan had been consummated there would have been no eventful April 22, and no '89-ers association—nor would there have been an Oklahoma City, with more than 200,000 people, the capital of a great state, yet how narrowly this was averted. Could this have been the result of accident or chance?
It would seem that even after the defeat of the proposition to bring the Sioux from the North, by the Forty-fourth Congress
in 1877, the department still had in mind to bring the Arizona Indians to Oklahoma. And the same proposition had to be all fought over in the Forty-fifth Congress (1878). One of Oklahoma's champions was Thos. J. Crittenden of Missouri. He went further than the defenders of Oklahoma in the Forty-fourth Congress by saying: "I am in favor of opening up the Territory so that all classes of men can go into it and civilize it and make it the resting place and home for white men as well as for Indians."
In further remarks this great Missourian said:
"As one of the Representatives of Missouri, I enter a solemn protest against the admission of any more Indians to this Territory. I see there is a disposition in the minds of some of the Representatives on this floor to have the Indians removed from their States and Territories to other States and Territories. They are acting upon the principle of self-defense. Now, we from the States of Kansas, Texas, Arkansas, Missouri, and other adjoining States, say that we will act upon the same principle and protest against the removal of another Indian to the Indian Territory."
After a very extended and acrimonious discussion, taking up several pages in the Congressional Record, in which charges and countercharges were made by the members, the following amendment to a section of the Indian appropriation bill was offered, to-wit: "And the President of the United States is hereby directed to prohibit the removal of any portion of said tribes of Indians to the Indian Territory, unless the same shall be hereafter authorized by Act of Congress." (The Indians referred to in this amendment were "Apaches and other Indians in Arizona and New Mexico.") The question was taken and there were: Yeas 98; Nays 94, with 100 not voting, so the amendment carried by a small majoiity. After the passage of this amendment to the Indian Appropriation bill, December 19, 1878, there were no more Indians moved to the Indian Territory—excepting Geronimo's band of San Carlos Apaches that were brought to Ft. Sill from Florida as prisoners of war.
The passage of this amendment prohibiting the locating of other tribes of Indians upon the public lands in the Indian Territory opened a new vista to adventurers and prospective home-seekers. It left in the very heart of the Indian Territory a tract
of land of more than 2,500,000 acres which was a part of the cession of the Creek and Seminole in the treaty of 1866 which had been sold to the government for the purpose of locating "friendly tribes and freedmen." From the land originally ceded back to the government by these two tribes, or nations, reservations had been selected and occupied by the Pottawatomies, Shawnees, Sac and Fox, Iowas, and Kickapoos and still there was land left while there could be no more Indians brought into the Territory to occupy it. The anomalous condition of the title to this land was soon brought to the attention of Congress—and to the country. Many members agreed that it was public domain and was therefore subject to homestead entry, however, a commission was appointed to confer with the two tribes for the purpose of lifting the cloud from the title by annulling the clause that provided for the location of other Indians. Among the prominent men who claimed that this tract was a part of the public domain was that progressive Cherokee, Elias Boudinot. The entire Cherokee Outlet of over seven million acres was not occupied except that it was leased by that nation to the Cherokee Livestock Association, but, however, under the provisions of the treaty concluded in July 1866, the United States had the right to purchase this vast tract. This, too, was potential territory for white settlement.
All of these questions were under consideration at the last session of the Forty-fifth Congress. Among the employes were many soldiers, one of whom was David L. Payne who was doorkeeper of the House of Representatives. Payne was a Kansan, an ex-officer in the state militia of Kansas and a veteran in the regular army. Though but an employee he was consulted often by the Kansas delegation for no man knew the Indian territory country, or was better acquainted with the situation than he.
Upon the adjournment of Congress, Payne hastened back to his home state and began the campaign often referred to in the Chronicles as "the Boomer movement." "The whole world knows the result:" Pres. Benj. Harrison issued a proclamation March 23, 1889, declaring that the 2,500,000 acre tract of land in the heart of Indian Territory, known as Oklahoma, to be a part of the public domain and that it would be opened to homestead settlement April 22, 1889. (It seemed to be one of those decrees
of fate that Payne, like Moses, never lived to occupy "the promised land.") The opening of the more than 2,500,000 acres, constituting the original Oklahoma, was the entering wedge which tore asunder the old Indian Territory plan of government so that an American State, with all the rights, privileges and protection to its citizens enjoyed by other states, might be established here.
But why follow the miraculous story of Oklahoma's creation any further? Is it not all written in the books? Even the school children are familiar with its history since the days of its opening in 1889. They have read of the opening of one reservation after another (after allotment had been made to the Indians of 160 acres each); they have read of the passage of the Organic Act which established a Territorial government that existed from May 2, 1890, to November 16, 1907, when, on that date, Oklahoma and Indian Territory were united and admitted into the Union as one state. Oklahoma might truthfully be called the "Miracle State." Every Oklahoman should be proud of his state, and its history should be instilled into the mind of every school child. The Oklahoma historical society is the repository of much of the State's history and is open to research students.