Indian Territory


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Indian Territory Map

Map of the Indian Territory

Indian Territory. By act of Congress, June 30, 1834, " all that part of the United States west of the Mississippi River, and not within the States of Missouri and Louisiana, or the Territory [now the State] of Arkansas, shall be considered the Indian country." It has been reduced in area by the successive formation of States and Territories, until now it is bounded north by Kansas, east by Missouri and Arkansas, south by Texas, and west by Texas and Oklahoma, and contains an area of 31,000 square miles. The population in 1890 was 180,182; in 1900, 391,960. This aggregate population, however, is only partially Indian, as many other whites, and negroes are included therein. In 1900 there were seven reservations in the Territory, and five civilized nations, the Cherokees, Chickasaws, Choctaws, Creeks, and Seminoles, and over 97 per cent of the entire population was in the first four nations. It was estimated that the population of the five nations included 84,750 Indians. The reservation Indians include Quapaws, Peorias, Kaskaskias, Ottawas, Wyandottes, Miamis, Shawnees, Modocs, Senecas, Cayugas, Sacs and Foxes, Pottawattomies, Osages, Kaws, Kiowas, Comanches, Apaches, Arapahoes, Cheyennes, Piankeshaws, and Weas, and the affiliated bands of Wichitas, Keechies, Wacoes, Tawacanies, Caddoes, Ioneis, Delawares, and Penetethka Comanches. In the latter part of 1873 the Modocs (a remnant of Captain Jack's band) and about 400 Kickapoos and Pottawattomies, from the borders of Texas and Mexico, were removed to the Indian Territory. The Teritory is well watered and wooded, and has much fertile land suitable for raising cereals and cotton, while the climate is mild and salubrious, but dry. Previous to the Civil War the five civilized tribes were well-to-do, even wealthy, possessing large farms and many slaves, and having an extensive trade with the Southern cities. Many of them enlisted—same with the Nationals, some with the Confederates—and at the close of the war the tribes were reduced to poverty. Since then, however, they have made remarkable progress, and have regained much of their former wealth. In 1891 the Indian population cultivated over 400,000 acres of land, and raised fully 4,500,000 bushels of wheat, corn, and oats, 400,000 bushels of vegetables, 60,000 bales of cotton, and 175,000 tons of hay, amounting in value to nearly $6,000,000. A portion of the Territory is fine grass - land, well fitted for grazing, and the several tribes owned 800,000 head of live-stock. Besides these there were produced large quantities of maple sugar, wild rice, cord-wood, hem-lock bark, and wool. More than 8,000,000 feet of lumber was sawed, and many thousands of woolen blankets, shawls, willow baskets, and other small articles of manufacture were produced. The Territory also produces iron, coal, marble, sandstone, and brick-clay. Wild turkeys and other varieties of small game are abundant. In certain instances, where white men are concerned, the jurisdiction of the United States courts extends over the Territory. The subject of a territorial government for the Indian country has long been discussed, but no decision has yet been reached. It was the policy of the United States to settle the various tribes in this region upon separate reservations, as far as possible, where they might be free from the encroachment of the white people, and under the general superintendence and protection of the government; but nearly 3,000 " pale-faces " had intruded and seated themselves in the Territory, when, in 1889, a portion of it was made a Territory of the United States by purchase from the Indians, under the name of Oklahoma.

In 1893 Congress created the commission to the five civilized tribes, with instructions to enter into negotiations with the several nations for the allotment of land in severalty or to procure the cession to the United States of the lands belonging to the five tribes at such price and terms as might be agreed upon, it being the express determination of Congress to bring about such changes as would enable the ultimate creation of a Territory, with the view to the admission of the same as a State of the Union. The work of the commission was still in progress in 1901, a principal difficulty being the taking of a census that would show the number of people in the several nations that would be entitled to consideration in the execution of the intentions of Congress. An encouraging advance had been made in carrying out the other duties of the commission.

Each of the five nations constitutes a separate organism, independent of any central authority; having its own executive and legislative officers ; and being sovereign excepting as to an observance of certain provisions of Congress. Each nation, in a word, practically stands towards the other nations and to the national government in the same relation as any one of the States. Hence, the labor of gathering information concerning the material, financial, educational, social, and other interests of the Indian Territory, and of carrying out the duties imposed on the commission, may be likened to the application of the same effort to any five adjoining States, although the actual area of investigation is here more restricted.




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