The American Cyclopædia (1879)/Indian Territory

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The American Cyclopædia
Indian Territory
Edition of 1879. Written by J. W. HawesSee also Indian Territory on Wikipedia, and the disclaimer.

INDIAN TERRITORY, an unorganized portion of the United States, situated between lat. 33° 35' and 37° N., and lon. 94° 20' and 103° W.; length E. and W. along the N. border 470 m., and 8. of lat. 36° 30' about 310 m.; breadth W. of the 100th meridian 35 m., and E. of that line about 210 m.; area, 68,991 sq. m. It is bounded N. by Colorado and Kansas, E. by Missouri and Arkansas, S. by Texas, from which E. of the 100th meridian it is separated by the Red river, and W. by Texas and New Mexico. The inhabitants are not regularly enumerated in the census of 1870, but the superintendent, from inquiries made through the agents of the Indian office, states the population at 68,152, of whom 2,407 were whites, 6,378 colored, and 59,367 Indians. Of the Indians, 24,967 were on reservations or at agencies, and 34,400 were nomadic. Besides a considerable portion still unassigned, the territory contains 17 Indian reservations. The Cherokees occupy an area of 5,960 sq. m. in the northeast, E. of the 96th meridian, and bordering on Kansas and Arkansas; they also own a strip about 50 m. wide along the Kansas border from the Arkansas river W. to the 100th meridian, about 8,500 sq. m. The Choctaw reservation, 10,450 sq. m., is in the southeast, bordering on Arkansas and Texas. Joining this on the west, and separated from Texas by the Red river, is the Chickasaw reservation, 6,840 sq. m. The Creeks occupy 5,024 sq. m. in the E. central part of the territory, bordering on the Cherokees and Choctaws. S. W. of the Creeks is the Seminole reservation, 312½ sq. m., and N. of this the reservation of the Sacs and Foxes, 756 sq. m. W. of the Seminole reservation is a tract of 900 sq. m. upon which are settled the citizen Pottawattamies and the Absentee Shawnees. The Osage reservation, 2,345 sq. m., is W. of that of the Cherokees, and is bounded N. by Kansas and S. W. by the Arkansas river. N. W. of the Osages, and bounded N. by Kansas and W. by the Arkansas, is the reservation of the Kaws, 156 sq. m., to which they were removed from Kansas in the summer of 1873. In the S. W. part of the territory, and bounded E. by the Chickasaws, are the Kiowas, Comanches, and Apaches, occupying 5,546 sq. m.; and N. of these are the Arapahoes and Cheyennes, with 6,205 sq. m. The Quapaws, the confederated Peorias, Kaskaskias, Weas, Piankeshaws, and Miamies, the Ottawas, the Shawnees, the Wyandots, and the Senecas severally have reservations, with an aggregate area of 297 sq. m., in the N. E. corner of the territory, E. of the Neosho river. The affiliated bands of Wichitas, Keechies, Wacoes, Tawacanies, Caddoes, Ionies, Delawares, and Penetethka Comanches are gathered at an agency on the Washita river W. of the Creek country, but they have no reservation. The Modocs (remnant of Captain Jack's band) and about 400 Kickapoos and Pottawattamies (from the border of Texas and Mexico) were removed to the Indian territory in the latter part of 1873. The former were placed temporarily on the Shawnee reservation, and the latter were settled on a tract on the Kansas border W. of the Arkansas river. — The surface has a general declination toward the east, but the only considerable elevations are the Wichita mountains in the southwest, and a continuation of the Ozark and Washita mountains from Arkansas in the east. Otherwise the E. portion of the territory and that S. of the Canadian river spreads out into undulatory plains, while the N. W. portion consists of elevated prairies. It is watered by innumerable streams, tributaries of the Arkansas and Red rivers. The former flows from Kansas in a S. E. direction through the N. E. corner of the territory into Arkansas, and is navigable in high stages of water to Fort Gibson in the Cherokee country. On the east its principal tributaries are the Verdigris, the Neosho, and the Illinois, which have a S. course. On the west the two principal branches are the Canadian and the Red fork. The Canadian river rises by two forks in New Mexico, which flow E., the S. fork first through the N. W. projection of Texas, traverse nearly the whole length of the territory, and uniting join the Arkansas near the E. border. The Red fork enters the territory from Kansas under the name of the Cimarron, and flowing S. E. joins the main stream N. of the Canadian. N. of the Red fork and having the same general direction is the Salt fork or Little Arkansas. The chief tributary of Red river is the Washita, which rises in N. W. Texas, and flowing S. E. joins the main stream near the S. E. angle of the Chickasaw country. Other affluents of Red river, commencing at the east, are the Kimishi, Boggy creek, Blue river, Mud creek, Beaver creek, Cache creek, and the North fork. Red river is navigable by small steamers in ordinary stages of water along nearly the whole S. border. In the west and northwest are extensive deposits of gypsum, and in the Cherokee country are found coal, iron, good brick clay, marble in places, and yellow sandstone suitable for building purposes. The climate is mild and salubrious, but generally dry. The mean annual temperature in the S. E. is 60°; in the N. W. 55°. The annual rainfall, which in the S. E. extremity of the territory is 52 in., decreases to 35 in. in the central region, and is less than 20 in. in the N. W. corner. The Wichita range is intersected by many fertile valleys abounding in wood, water, and grass, and generally the country S. of the Canadian is interspersed with prairie and timbered land, possessing a fertile soil overgrown with nutritious grasses. The N. E. portion of the territory is well wooded, and while there is considerable arable and productive land, much of it is rocky and only fit for timber or pasture; three fifths of the Cherokee country is of this character. Between lon. 97° and 98° a narrow strip of timber, called the “Cross Timbers,” stretches from the Red fork of the Arkansas S. and S. W. into Texas. W. of this and N. of the Canadian is a sterile region, scantily overgrown with grass, producing only a few stunted shrubs, cactuses, &c., and covered in places with saline deposits. The most common trees and shrubs are the cottonwood, oak, sycamore, elm, walnut, ash, yellow pine, pecan, Osage orange, hawthorn, and the grape vine. Indian corn is the chief crop. Wheat is also raised, as well as rye, oats, beans, pumpkins, potatoes, and other vegetables, and upland rice. Cotton was formerly largely cultivated S. of the Canadian and on the Arkansas and Red rivers, and is still grown there to some extent. Apples do well N. of the Canadian and Arkansas, and peaches, pears, plums, cherries, and small fruits flourish. Among wild animals may be mentioned the prairie dog, the deer, and vast herds of buffalo and wild horses that roam over the W. plains. Wild turkeys are abundant. Large herds of horses and cattle were formerly owned by the Cherokees and other civilized tribes, but they were dispersed and driven off during the civil war, which prostrated the industries of the Indians, and from the effects of which they have not yet recovered. The following table is compiled from the report of the commissioner of Indian affairs for 1873:

TRIBES.  Acres of land 
 Indian corn, 
 Hay, tons.   Lumber sawed, 

Cherokees 89,250  69,650  629,000  35,000  10,000  50,000  480,000 
Chickasaws 30,000  10,000  75,000  10,000  35,000  25,000  50,000 
Choctaws 50,000  10,000  100,000  10,000  60,000  50,000  3,000,000 
Creeks 31,000  600  500,000  1,000  75,000  10,000  ..... 
Quapaws, &c. 4,571  2,134  64,742  3,250  4,110  1,875  ..... 
Seminoles 7,600  ....  150,000  ....  4,000  400  50,000 
Other tribes 5,369  190  81,210  1,500  10,360  1,470  350,468 

 Entire territory   217,790   92,574   1,599,952   60,750   198,470   138,745   3,930,468 

There were also raised 5,000 bushels of barley, 10,936 of beans, 1,534 of peas, 6,500 of turnips, 25 of rice, 4,000 lbs. of sugar, and 5,000 bales of cotton (2,000 by the Chickasaws and 3,000 by the Choctaws). The value of furs sold was $193,560. The productions in 1872 were 100,420 bushels of wheat, 6,562,540 of Indian corn, 104,939 of oats, 281,000 of potatoes, 700 of beans, 1,000 of rice, 27,624 tons of hay, 1,200 lbs. of tobacco, 36,000 gallons of sorghum molasses, and 570 bales of cotton. The total value of productions was $4,168,932, viz.: Cherokees, $1,923,155; Chickasaws, $219,000; Choctaws, $1,119,797; Creeks, $537,325; Quapaws, &c., $30,881; Seminoles, $159,500; other tribes, $179,274. There were 2,350,000 feet of lumber sawed (2,000,000 by the Cherokees). The value of furs sold was $102,020, chiefly by the Cheyennes and Arapahoes, Osages, Kiowas, &c. The number and value of live stock in 1873 were as follows:

TRIBES. Horses. Cattle. Sheep. Swine. Value.

Cherokees 15,000  103,302  3,050  68,868  $1,861,038
Chickasaws 35,000  50,000  2,000  75,000  1,354,000
Choctaws 100,000  100,000  8,000  150,000  3,316,000
Creeks 15,000  35,000  ....  100,000  1,150,000
Quapaws, &c. 891  997  ....  3,621  67,806
Seminoles 2,500  10,500  50  25,000  217,650
Other tribes 43,764  22,555  ....  7,956  1,441,684

Entire territory   212,155   322,354   13,100   430,445   $9,408,178

The railroads in the territory are the Missouri, Kansas, and Texas (from Sedalia, Mo., on the Missouri Pacific line, to a junction with the Houston and Texas Central, at Denison, Tex.), which crosses the E. part, and the Atlantic and Pacific, from Pacific, Mo., on the Missouri Pacific, to a junction with the Missouri, Kansas, and Texas, at Vinita in the Cherokee country. The total mileage in the territory is 269. — Indian territory forms the greater part of the central Indian superintendency, and contains 11 agencies, viz.: the Cherokee, Choctaw (including also the Chickasaws), Creek, Kaw, Kiowa, Neosho (Osages), Quapaw, Sac and Fox (including also the Absentee Shawnees), Seminole, Upper Arkansas (Cheyennes and Arapahoes), and Wichita; for each of which an agent is appointed by the president with the consent of the senate, to represent the United States; but each tribe has its own internal government. The jurisdiction of the United States courts for the W. district of Arkansas extends over the territory in civil actions where a white man is a party, in case of crimes committed by or upon a white man, and in proceedings for violation of the laws regulating trade and intercourse with the Indians. The subject of a territorial government has been much discussed both among the Indians, who in a general council in 1870 framed a constitution, and in congress; but difference of views between congress and the tribes has hitherto prevented its organization. The United States have adopted the policy of settling the various Indian tribes in this region as far as practicable upon separate reservations, where they may be free from the encroachment of the whites, and under the general superintendence and protection of the government. The greater part of the inhabitants have thus at various periods been removed from different parts of the Union, but some are indigenous to the territory. Some tribes, as the Kiowas and Comanches, are still in a wild state, while others, as the Cherokees, Choctaws, and Creeks, are well advanced in civilization. The capital of the Cherokee nation is Tahlequah; of the Chickasaws, Tishemingo; of the Choctaws, Armstrong Academy; of the Creeks, Okmulkee; of the Seminoles, We-wo-ka. The following table from the report of the commissioner of Indian affairs gives the population, value of property, number of schools, &c., for 1873:

TRIBES.  Population.  Value of
No. of
 Teachers.   Scholars. 

Cherokees 17,217  $5,000,000     63  65  1,884 
Chickasaws 6,000  2,000,000     13  18  430 
Choctaws 16,000  4,746,000[1]  50  52  1,129 
Creeks 13,000  3,113,200[1]  34  43  700 
Quapaws, &c. 1,219  219,241     203 
Seminoles 2,438  400,500     157 
Other tribes 16,594  1,543,598     30  266 

Entire territory  72,468   $17,022,539     176  216  4,769 
  1. 1.0 1.1 Report of the board of Indian commissioners for 1872.

The second column does not include the value of land, which is held in common, nor of stocks and funds held in trust by the United States under treaties with various tribes, the interest on which is annually paid to such tribes for the support of schools or for general purposes. Most of the schools are supported by the tribal funds, but some are carried on by the missionaries. In 1872 (no returns from the Chickasaws and Choctaws) there were 598 frame and 8,823 log houses, viz.: Cherokees, 500 frame and 3,500 log; Creeks, 35 frame and 4,200 log; Seminoles, 500 log houses; other tribes, the rest. The Cherokees have an orphan asylum with 90 inmates. Three weekly newspapers are published in the territory, one (English and Cherokee) at Tahlequah, the other two in the Choctaw country, one (English and Choctaw) at New Boggy, and one (English) at Caddo. On March 1, 1873, there were 28 post offices, viz.: Cherokee country, 6; Chickasaw, 4; Choctaw, 12; Creek, 4; Seminole, 1; Kiowa, &c., 1. Under the existing regulations of the Indian bureau, the agents of the Cherokees and Creeks are nominated by the Baptists; of the Choctaws and Chickasaws, and the Seminoles, by the Presbyterians; of the other tribes, by the Orthodox Friends. The Methodists, Presbyterians, and Baptists have each several missions, and one or more are maintained by the Friends, Moravians, and Roman Catholics. According to the report of the board of Indian commissioners for 1872, there were 7,170 church members, viz.: Cherokees, 2,450; Choctaws and Chickasaws, 2,500; Creeks, 2,050; Semi- noles, 90; other tribes, 80. — The act of June 30, 1834, regulating trade and intercourse with the Indians, declares that “all that part of the United States W. of the Mississippi, and not within the states of Missouri and Louisiana, or the territory of Arkansas,” shall for the purposes of that act be considered the Indian country. The vast region thus defined, identical with the then territory of Missouri, formed part of the Louisiana purchase from France in 1803. Reduced by the successive formation of states and territories, the remainder now constitutes the whole of the district described at the beginning of this article except the narrow strip W. of the 100th meridian, which was ceded by Texas to the United States, and is classed geographically with the Indian territory for convenience. (For further information, see the articles on the different tribes.)