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Chronicles of Oklahoma
Volume 3, No. 1
March, 1925
JOURNAL OF THE GENERAL COUNCIL
OF THE INDIAN TERRITORY

Page 33

EDITORIAL INTRODUCTION

When the delegations representing the Cherokee, Creek, Seminole, Choctaw and Chickasaw tribes or nations of Indians went to Washington for the purpose of negotiating new treaties, in the spring of 1866, they found that the treaties, as already formulated and proposed by the representatives of the Federal Government, had many points in common. For instance, each specified that slavery should be abolished and that certain provisions should be made for the benefit of former slaves of members of the respective tribes; that much of the surplus tribal lands should be ceded to the Government for the location of other tribes of Indians thereon; that rights-of-way should be granted for the construction and operation of railways across the tribal reservations and; finally, that Congress might have the right to erect, organize and maintain an inter-tribal territorial government, or commonwealth, with a legislative council, a chief executive to be known as the governor and a judicial system including an appelate court. Some of these provisions were subjected to extended negotiations with several of the tribal delegations but, in the end, all were finally incorporated in the respective treaties, though in a somewhat modified form in one or two instances.

Bills for the organization of the Indian Territory, in conformity with the provisions of new treaties, were introduced during the sessions of the Thirty-ninth and Fortieth Congresses, but neither of these reached the stage of a committee report. In the Forty-first Congress, Representative Robert T. Van Horn, of the Kansas City (Missouri) district, introduced a similar bill for the organization of the Territory under the name of Oklahoma, that name having, been suggested in the Choctaw-Chickasaw treaty of 1866. This measure was referred to the Committee on Indian Affairs, of which Representative Sidney Clarke, of Kansas, was chairman. After due consideration, it was reported back to the House with a recommendation favorable to its passage. At this juncture, however, Representative Shelby M. Cullom,

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of Illinois, who was chairman of the Committee on Territories, raised a point of order that such a measure should be referred to his committee before being reported for consideration by the House. An extended debate over this phase of the matter followed, with the result that it was finally referred a joint committee composed of the members of both committees. No, further action was taken.

While the "Oklahoma Bill" thus failed of consideration on the floor of the House, the announcement that such a measure had been reported favorably by a congressional committee was sufficient to arouse grave apprehensions in the minds of many of the intelligent Indians. They realized full well that there were several railway companies which were keenly interested in securing land grant subsidies for the construction of lines across the Indian Territory and they suspected that some of these were responsible for the effort to put such a measure through Congress. Although this particular effort had not been successful, further efforts were almost sure to be made in the same line and some of these might be passed and approved. That the time had arrived for the leaders of the several tribes to meet and confer concerning matters which were of common interest, was evident. In the belief that there was therefore a very real need for concerted action, a council or conference of representatives of the several tribes was called to convene at Okmulgee, in the Creek Nation on the 27th of September, 1870. The first session of this "General Council of the Indian Territory," as it was called, sat for four days, when adjournment was made until the first Monday in December following.

The adjourned session was held, during the course of which the proposed Constitution of the Indian Territory was reported, considered and ordered to be submitted to the several tribal councils for ratification or rejection. This document, thenceforth known as the Okmulgee Constitution, was the subject of much discussion in the Indian Territory for several years following, though it was never ratified. Similar conventions, bearing the same name and each convening at Okmulgee, were held annually, down to and including the one held in 1878. The session of 1875 was held in May, with an adjourned session in September following. At this adjourned session, the proposed "Constitution of the Indian

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Territory," first formulated for consideration nearly five years before, was again reported for consideration, by a new committee, with a new preamble and several other changes of a minor nature.

The journals of the General Council of the Indian Territory were printed and published in pamphlet form, though evidently in limited editions of which but few copies seem to have been preserved. Although but a few delegations were present at this first session, and these mostly representing the larger and more important tribes, subsequent sessions saw many other tribes represented. The proposed organization of the Indian commonwealth under a constitutional government was never completed, so the General Council never acquired the powers of a law-making assemblage. Despite this, however, it played an important part in the history of the Indian Territory. It helped the people of civilized and semi-civilized tribes, which had long been settled in the Territory, to adjust themselves to the changes which they had had to make as the result of their participation in the Civil War. By bringing representatives of tribes of the more primitive class (including the wild tribes of the western Plains) into such contact and association with those of tribes which had made marked advance in the ways of civilized life, it helped to broaden their vision and to prepare them for the responsibilities which they would have to assume under the changed conditions which destiny held in store for them.

Practically all of the participants in the several sessions of the General Council of the Indian Territory have passed from the scene of their earthly activities. The wilderness trails over which they rode or drove to the meeting place are not merely forgotten but, in many places indeed, have been entirely effaced by the white man’s plow. The Arcadian little Indian settlement, where they were wont to foregather, to counsel together for the common good, has been replaced by a busy city whose pulses throb with the spirit of modern industry. The General Council and its Okmulgee Constitution are all but forgotten in the great state which was once the Indian Territory and which has a constitution that is in striking contrast with the brief, simple charter which was framed by the tribesmen of more than half a century ago—a constitution the details of which are so elab-

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orate and so involved that it not only puzzles legislators but it taxes the profundity of courts to comprehend all of its intricate meanings and intentions. In the rapid march of modern progress, with its complications and its conventions, men are too prone to forget the pioneer and the day of humble beginnings. In the belief that the story of the successive sessions of the General Council of the Indian Territory and the deliberations and transactions thereof is worthy of preservation, it is the purpose of the Oklahoma Historical Society to republish the same in installments, of which the following is the first.

JOURNAL
OKMULGEE, Tuesday,
September 27, A. D. 1870.

Council convened at 9:30 A. M.
Superintendent Enoch Hoag presiding.
I. G. VORE, Secretary pro tem.

Credentials of members of different tribes presented and the following delegates admitted to seats:

CHEROKEE NATION,
 
 
Wm. P. Ross.
Riley Keys.
Allen Ross.
MUSKOKEE NATION,
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
G. W. Stidham.
Pleasant Porter.
John R. Moore.
L. C. Perryman.
G. W. Grayson.
Joseph M. Perryman.
Sanford W. Perryman.
OTTAWAS, Francis King.
EASTERN SHAWNEES, Lazarus Flint.
QUAPAWS, George Lane.
SENECAS, James King.
WYANDOTTES, James Hicks.
CONFEDERATE PEORIAS &C Edward Black.
SAC & FOX
 
Keokuk.
Mat-ta-tah.

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ABSENTEE SHAWNEES
 
John White.
Joseph Ellis.

A quorum not being present,
Council adjourned until 2 o’clock P. M.

TWO O’CLOCK P. M.

Council met pursuant to adjournment.

Credentials of members presented and the following Delegates admitted to seats:

CHEROKEE NATION, S. H. Benge
MUSKOKEE NATION,
 
Oktar-har-sars Harjo,
of Arpe-kar
[Seminole]
 
Cot-cho-che,
of We-wo-ka
CHEROKEE NATION (Delaware) John Sarcoxie
GREAT AND LITTLE OSAGES Augustus Captain
Wm. Connor

A quorum not being present,
On motion, Council adjourned until 9 o’clock A. M., tomorrow, Wednesday, 28th.

WEDNESDAY, Sept. 28, 1870,
9 O’CLOCK A. M.

Council met pursuant to adjournment.
Credentials of members presented and the following delegates admitted to seats:

CHEROKEE NATION
 
 
 
O. H. P. Brewer
J. A. Scales
S. M. Taylor
Stealer
MUSKOKEE NATION Timothy Barnard

On motion an informal committee of five was appointed to report upon the organization and order of business for the General Council.

Committee :—W. P. Ross, P. Porter, F. King, S. H. Benge, A. Captain.

A quorum not being present,
On motion, Council adjourned until 2 o’clock P. M.

Page 38

TWO O’CLOCK P. M.,

Council met pursuant to adjournment.
Report of informal committee received.
On motion action was deferred until a quorum should be present.
A quorum not being present, on motion, Council adjourned until 9 o’clock A. M., tomorrow.

THURSDAY, Sept. 29, 1870,
9 O’CLOCK A. M.

Council met pursuant to adjournment.
Credentials presented and the following delegates admitted to seats:

MUSKOKEE NATION J. M. C. Smith
CHEROKEE NATION
 
 
Moses Alberty
Ezekial Proctor
Joseph Vann
GREAT AND LITTLE OSAGES Wah-tah-in-kah

A quorum being present, Council proceded to business.
Preceding minutes read and adopted.
Report of informal committee submitted for action.

REPORT

The Committee on order of business, report and recommend,

1st. That the provisions of the twelfth article of the treaty of August 1866, between the United States and the Cherokee Nation be adopted as the present basis of the power and duties of the General Council of the Indian Territory.

2d. That a majority of delegates entitled to seats in the General Council shall be necessary to constitute a quroum for the transaction of businness, but a less number during a lawful session thereof may adjourn from day to day and adopt such measures as may be deemed necessary to compel the attendance of absent members.

3d. There shall be elected by the General Council a Secretary whose duty shall be such as are defined by Treaty.

4th. There shall be elected in like manner one Doorkeeper whose duties shall be prescribed by order of the President.

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5th. That a committee of seven members be appointed by the President to report rules for the government of the Council in the transaction and order of business.

6th. That there shall be appointed by the President the following standing Committees for the session whose duty it shall be to consider and report, by bill or otherwise, upon subjects that may be referred to them by order of the Council, to-wit:

1st. A Committee on Relations with the United States.
2d. A Committee on International Relations.
3d. A Committee on the Judiciary.
4th. A Committee on Finance.
5th. A Committee on Education and Agriculture.
6th. A Committee on Enrolled Bills.

J. R. Moore offered the following amendment: In first paragraph, after the words "General Council of the Indian Territory" insert "nor shall said Council legislate on any matters pertaining to the organization, laws or customs of the several tribes."

Amendment lost.

Report of the Committee adopted.

On motion, election of Secretary was deferred until Monday, Oct. 3d.
Robert Carr was duly elected Doorkeeper.

The following standing Committees were appointed by the President: Committee on Relations with the United States:
W. P. Ross, S. H. Benge, G. W. Stidham, S. W. Perryman and L. Flint.

Committee on Intern[ation]al Relations:
Allen Ross, P. Porter, Francis King, Keokuk, Augustus Captain, J. A. Scales and J. R. Moore.

Committee on Judiciary:
Riley Keys, G. W. Stidham, S. M. Taylor, Edward Black, and Augustus Captain.

Committee on Finance:
J. A. Scales, Moses Alberty, J. M. C. Smith, L. C. Perryman, and John White.

Committee on Education and Agriculture:
J. M. Perryman, O. H. P. Brewer, Joseph Vann, Tim Barnard, Wm. Connor, J. M. C. Smith, and W. P. Ross.

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Committee on Enrolled Bills:
W. P. Ross, J. A. Scales, and J. M. Perryman.

Committee on Rules for the government of the Council in the transaction and order of business:
W. P. Ross, G. W. Grayson, G. W. Stidham, R. Keys, F. King, and G. Lane.

On motion, Council adjourned to meet at 2 o’clock P. M.

TWO O’CLOCK P. M.

Council met pursuant to adjournment.

Credentials presented and the following delegates admitted to seats:

SEMINOLE NATION,
 
Fus-hat-che Harjo.
John F. Brown.

On motion, the following Resolutions were adopted:

Resolved, that the Committee on Education be instructed to report in writing, as near as may be practicable, the population of the nations and tribes represented in the General Council, the amount of their respective school funds, the number of schools in operation among them, the system under which they are managed and the general state of education in the Indian Territory.

Resolved, that the Committee on Judiciary be instructed to report a bill or bills which shall provide for the arrest and extradition of criminals and offenders escaping from one tribe to another tribe, and for the administration of justice between members of different tribes of the Indian Territory, and persons other than Indians and members of said tribes and nations.

Resolved, that the Committee on Intern [ation] al Relations be instructed to report a bill or bills to regulate matters pertaining to the intercourse and relations of the Indian tribes and nations resident in the Indian Territory.

Report of Committee on Rules for the government of the Council in the transaction and order of business received and adopted.

REPORT

In order to expedite and conduct the proceedings of the present Council with some regard to the rules governing other similar assemblies, the Committee appointed for that

Page 41

purpose would respectfully recommend the adoption of the following rules for the government of the Council now assembled at Okmulgee, C. N., agreeable with treaties of 1866, in the transaction and order of business, towit:

1st. That the Council shall meet daily (Sunday excepted) at 9 o’clock A. M., unless otherwise ordered by the Council.

2d. When called to order by the President it shall be the duty of the Secretary to call the roll and read the journal of the preceding session.

3d. All propositions and motions before being acted upon shall be duly interpreted to, all the tribes present.

4th. Voting on all propositions shall be done by raising the right hand, but the ayes and nays shall be taken and duly recorded by the Secretary when it is so desired by ten members.

5th. Any member wishing to make a motion or discuss a proposition shall arise to his feet and address the presiding officer as "Mr. President" and confine himself to the subject under consideration and abstain from all remarks of a personal or offensive character. Any member transgressing the foregoing rule shall be called to order by the presiding officer and not be allowed to proceed without his consent.

6th. No motion shall be entertained by the Council unless such motion shall have been seconded.

7th. All bills and resolutions requiring the action of the Council shall be reduced to writing and read three several times before being acted upon.

8th. The style of the action of the Council shall be "Be it enacted (or resolved) by the General Council of the Indian Territory."

9th. A motion to, adjourn shall at all times be in order.

On motion, Council adjourned until 9 o’clock A. M. tomorrow.

FRIDAY, Sept. 30, 1870,
9 O’CLOCK A. M.

Council met pursuant to adjournment.
Preceding minutes read and adopted.

Committee on Education and Agriculture asked for and was granted further time.

Page 42

Committee on the Judiciary asked for and was granted further time.

On motion, the following resolution was adopted:
Resolved by the General Council of the Indian Territory, That the Committee on Relations with the United States be instructed to report a memorial to the President of the same, setting forth our relations with the General Government, as defined by treaty stipulation and protesting against any legislation by Congress impairing the obligation of any treaty provision, and especially against the creation of any government over the Indian Territory other than that of the General Council; and also against the sale or grant of any lands directly or contingent upon the extinguishment of the Indian title, to any railroad company or corporation now chartered for the purpose of constructing a railroad from a point north to any point south, or from a point east to any point west through the Indian Territory, or the construction of any other railroad, other than those authorized by existing treaties.

On motion Council adjourned until 2 P. M.

TWO O’CLOCK P. M.

Council met pursuant to, adjournment.

Clement N. Vann, delegate from the Cherokee Nation admitted to a seat.

A communication from the Principal Chief of the Choctaw Nation to Superintendent Hoag was submitted [12] in which he stated that no delegates to the General Council had been elected or appointed and no provision made authorizing him to do so; also one from the authorities of the Chickasaw Nation, stating that owing to the shortness of time, from the reception of the notice until the meeting of this Council, it would be impossible for the representatives of that nation to be present at the meeting of the Council but that they would attend at as early a day as possible.

On motion of C. N. Vann, the following resolutions were unanimously adopted Resolved by the General Council of the Indian Territory:
That the nations parties to the treaties of 1866 making provisions for the organization of this Council hold that in good faith they are bound by those provisions.

Page 43

Resolved further, That it is the sense of this Council that any nation party to the treaties referred to, or included within the provisions are, and ought to be bound by the authority and action of this Council, whether they send delegates to, or participate in its deliberations or not.

On motion Council adjourned until 7 o’clock P. M.

SEVEN O’CLOCK P. M.

Council met pursuant to adjournment.

Credential presented and the following delegate admitted to a seat:

CHEROKEE NATION Stand Watie.

On motion the following resolutions were presented and unanimously adopted:

Whereas, The short notice given of the convening of the General Council of the Indian Territory has prevented the attendance of delegates from some of the nations entitled to representation in the same, therefore,

Be it Resolved by the General Council of the Indian Territory, That, when this Council adjourns to-day, it will be to meet again at 10 A. M., at this place on the first Monday in December next, unless otherwise ordered by the Secretary of the Interior.

Resolved, That the standing committees appointed under the rules of the Council be continued, and instructed to report in full upon the several subjects referred to them at that time by order of the Council.

Resolved, That the Secretary be requested to furnish a copy of these resolutions to the executives of the Choctaw and Chickasaw Nations, and request the attendance of delegates from their nations at the adjourned sessions of the General Council of the Indian Territory.

On motion the following resolutions were unanimously adopted:

Resolved by the General Council of the Indian Territory, That there be conveyed to the Comanche, Kiowa, Arapahoe Cheyenne, Caddo, Wichita and other tribes of Indians living on the Plains, assurances of the friendship and kind feelings of the nations represented in this General Council and an expression of their earnest wish that relations of peace may

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be established between them and all men of whatever race or color.

Resolved further, That Ok-tar-har-sars-Harjo be authorized and requested by the General Council to convey the foregoing resolutions to said Indians and to earnestly invite them to meet us in Council at our session in December next.

On motion the Secretary was requested to send a transcript of the resolution to said Indians, with [14] names of all the delegates at this Council attached, designating the tribes to, which they belong.

On motion the following resolution was adopted:

Resolved, That the Committee on Education and Agriculture be instructed to report fully as may be practicable upon the condition of agriculture in the Indian Territory, including the area of land in cultivation, the crops produced, the different plants and cereals adapted to the climate and soil, and the best methods of cultivating such crops and increasing the industry of the people in agricultural pursuits.

C. N. Vann was added to the Committee on relations with the United States, Committee on the Judiciary and Committee on Enrolled Bills;

John F. Brown was added to the Committee on relations with the United States and Committee on Enrolled Bills.

On motion, Council adjourned.

ENOCH HOAG,
Pres’t and Sup’t of Indian Affairs.

I.G. VORE, Secretary. [pro tem].

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