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Removal of American Indian Tribes to Oklahoma

Tribes in Oklahoma Prior to Removal

In 1803 when the United States assumed control of the area that became Oklahoma, Indian people already inhabited the land. Wichitas, Plains Apaches (today's Apache Tribe), Quapaws, and Caddos were here during the Spanish and French colonial period.

By the early 1800s, Osages, Pawnees, Kiowas, Comanches, Cheyennes, and Arapahos had also migrated into the region or visited to use resources. Some Delawares, Shawnees, Kickapoos, Chickasaws, and Choctaws regularly came to hunt Oklahoma's abundant bison, beaver, deer, and bear.

Tribes native to present-day Oklahoma region:

  • Caddo
  • Osage
  • Wichita

Removal 1830–1862

The expansion of Anglo-American settlement into the Trans-Appalachian west led to the passage of the Indian Removal Act in 1830, forcing all eastern Indians to move to new homelands west of the Mississippi River in the "Indian Territory." The Five Civilized Tribes purchased new lands in present-day Oklahoma, but some relocated farther north. The passage of the Kansas-Nebraska Act in 1854 led to renewed Anglo-American settlement in these territories, and the immigrant tribes located there were soon under pressure to move on. Texas, too, forced out all remaining tribes in 1859. The Civil War ended the removals temporarily.

Tribes removed or assigned reservations in the area:

  • Absentee Shawnee
  • Alabama-Quassarte (Koasati)
  • Anadarko (Nadaco)
  • Caddo
  • Catawba (moved voluntarily to Choctaw Nation)
  • Cherokee
  • Chickasaw
  • Choctaw
  • Comanche
  • Delaware, Western
  • Eastern Shawnee
  • Hainai
  • Keechi (Kichai)
  • Kialegee
  • Moingwena
  • Muscogee (Creek)
  • Piankashaw
  • Quapaw
  • Seminole
  • Seneca-Cayuga (including Conestoga, Erie)
  • Shawnee, Eastern
  • Tawakoni
  • Thlopthlocco
  • United Keetoowah
  • Wichita
  • Yuchi (Euchee)

The Final Period, 1867–1892

The end of the Civil War allowed another surge of Anglo-American settlement into the West, and again Indian tribes were pressured onto reservations in the Indian Territory. In 1867 many of the tribes living in Kansas and Nebraska received new reservations by the Omnibus Treaty, while the Plains Tribes accepted reservations by the Medicine Lodge Treaty. The last people to receive a reservation were Geronimo and his fellow Chiricahua prisoners of war.

Tribes removed or assigned reservations in the area:

  • Apache
  • Apache, Lipan
  • Arapaho
  • Cheyenne
  • Potawatomi
  • Comanche
  • Delaware, Eastern
  • Fort Sill Apache
  • Iowa
  • Kaw (Kansa)
  • Kickapoo
  • Kiowa
  • Miami (including Eel River Indians)
  • Modoc
  • Nez Perce
  • Otoe-Missouria
  • Ottawa
  • Osage
  • Pawnee
  • Peoria (including Cahokia, Illinois, Kaskaskia, Michigamea, Tamaroa)
  • Ponca
  • Sac and Fox
  • Shawnee
  • Stockbridge-Munsee
  • Tonkawa
  • Waco
  • Wea
  • Wyandotte

A Timeline of Removal

  • 1802 The Compact of 1802, also known as the Georgia Compact, promised to extinguish American Indian land title in the state of Georgia.
  • 1803The Louisiana Purchase: the United States buys the 828,000 square miles of land from France, which doubled the size of the US.
  • 1812 Approximately one-fourth of the Cherokee Nation from the southeastern US voluntarily migrated to Arkansas Territory (attached to Missouri), settling between the White and Arkansas Rivers in northwest Arkansas.

    On December 7 the Territory of Missouri was organized by Congress.
  • 1817 On July 8 the Turkeytown Treaty was concluded between the Cherokees and representatives of the United States. Though sixty-seven chiefs signed the document, a majority of the tribe opposed it. Those removed to Arkansas Territory are known as "Old Settlers."
  • 1818 The Quapaws native to Arkansas signed a treaty accepting land or reservation of one million acres between the Arkansas and Ouachita Rivers.

    Delaware, or Lenape, Indians ceded lands in Indiana under the Treaty of St. Mary's. This was not the first treaty leading to removal. The Lenape people lived along the Delaware River along the east coast of America. Their people at one time lived on Manhattan Island in New York State. During the eighteenth century they were disposed of lands in New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, and by 1818, Indiana.

    Miami Indians living in Indiana cede land under provisions of the Treaty of St. Mary's.
  • 1819 The Kickapoo Indians (originally from Wisconsin) sign a treaty removing them from Illinois to Missouri; however, a remnant band remained in Illinois harassing white settlements.
  • 1820 The Treaty of Doak's Stand was the first of removal treaties involving the Choctaws of Mississippi. A portion of the tribe removed to southwest Arkansas Territory.

    The Delaware remove from Indiana.
  • 1821 Missouri became a state.
  • 1824 Quapaws ceded all their lands in Arkansas Territory, moving to northwest Louisiana and residing with the Caddo Indians.

    Forts Gibson and Towson were established in Indian Territory to provide protection for tribes moving from the East.
  • 1828Andrew Jackson is elected president.

    The Western or Old Settler Cherokees removed from Arkansas Territory to Indian Territory. This removal began a protracted war with the Osage Indians, as the Cherokee were encroaching on Osage lands.
  • 1830 The Indian Removal Act fostered by President Jackson passed Congress.

    The Treaty of Dancing Rabbit Creek stipulated the removal of Choctaw Indians from Mississippi.
  • 1831 The Choctaw Nation began removal from Mississippi to Indian Territory, thus becoming the first of the Five Tribes to be forcibly removed and beginning a decade of trail of tears.

    Several tribes in Ohio signed treaties requiring removal from the state, including the Senecas, Shawnees, and Ottawas.
  • 1832 The Treaty of Payne's Landing began the process for removal of the Seminoles of Florida. It would take almost twenty years and 15 million dollars to force the tribe from their lands.

    The Treaty of Pontotoc in Mississippi required the removal of the Chickasaw Tribe from their lands.

    Andrew Jackson was reelected president.

    The Wyandots (Hurons) of Ohio ceded lands through the Treaty of McCutchensville.

    The following tribes concluded various treaties with the United States and are forced to give up lands:
    The Sauk and Fox ceded lands east of the Mississippi River for land in Kansas.
    The Prairie Band of Potawatomis ceded lands in Indiana for land in Kansas.
    The Shawnees and Delawares ceded lands in Missouri for land in Kansas.
    The Kaskaskias and Peorias ceded lands in Illinois and Missouri.
    The small tribes of Stockbridge, Munsees, Brothertons, and New York Oneidas ceded lands. These tribes in particular relocated in the northeast corner of Indian Territory.
    The Piankeshaws and Weas in Illinois and Missouri ceded lands.
  • 1833 The Quapaws of Arkansas concluded a treaty that removed the tribe to Indian Territory, located in the extreme northeast corner bordering Kansas and Missouri.

    The Illinois Kickapoos removed to Kansas.

    The Ottawas of Ohio concluded treaty that ceded land and requires removal.
  • 1834 A treaty required the Caddos of Louisiana to remove beyond the limits of the United States. They are virtually left landless, ultimately migrating into the Republic of Texas.

    The Apalachicola of Florida (part of the Muscogee-Creek Confederacy) began removal.

    The Indian Intercourse Acts designates territories west of Missouri, Arkansas, and Louisiana as "Indian Territory". Indian Territory at this time extended from the Red River of Texas north to the Canadian border.

    The Muscogee-Creek tribe began removal.
  • 1835 The Treaty of New Echota provided for the removal of all Cherokees east of the Mississippi River.
  • 1836 Arkansas becomes a state.

    The Seminoles of Florida began removal.

    The forced removal of Muscogees and Creeks began.

    The Republic of Texas was established.
  • 1837 The Chickasaws voluntarily remove, settling on the western fringe of the Choctaw Nation in Indian Territory.
  • 1838 Forced removal of 16,000 Cherokees began.

    Potawatomis of Indiana began forced removal on their Trail of Death.
  • 1839 Cherokee Trail of Tears continued, incurring approximately 4,000 deaths along the way.

    The Kickapoos in Kansas removed to Indian Territory (Oklahoma).
  • 1842 Fort Washita was established in Indian Territory.

    The Treaty of Buffalo Creek provided for the removal of the Seneca Indians.
  • 1843 The Wyandot tribe removed from Ohio.

    The Sauk and Fox of Iowa ceded land and prepared for removal within Kansas.
  • 1845 Florida became a state.

    Texas entered the Union.
  • 1846 Miami Indians removed from Indiana.

    Iowa entered the Union.
  • 1848 Wisconsin became a state.
  • 1851 The Potawatomis removed from Wisconsin.
  • 1854 The Kansas-Nebraska Act organizes Kansas Territory.

    Upper and Lower Brazos Reserve is created in northern Texas for Caddos, Keechis, Wacos, Delawares, Tonkawas, and Penateka Comanches.
  • 1859 The Seminoles of Florida removal era ends.

    The Texas Indians located at the Brazos Reserve are removed to the Leased District in western Indian Territory near the Wichita Indians.
  • 1860 Abraham Lincoln is elected president.
  • 1861 The Civil War began.

    Kansas entered the Union.
  • 1865 The Treaty of Little Arkansas River assigned reservation to Cheyenne, Arapahos, Kiowas, and Comanches in western Indian Territory.

    The Civil War ended.
  • 1866 Repressive treaties are concluded with the Five Tribes, reducing their land base in Indian Territory.
  • 1867 The Sauk and Fox removed from Kansas to Indian Territory.

    Citizen Potawatomi removed from Kansas to Indian Territory.

    Treaty of Medicine Lodge is concluded reassigning Cheyenne and Arapahos reservation in Indian Territory.

    Iowa tribe removed from Kansas to Indian Territory.
  • 1869 Fort Sill is established in southwestern Indian Territory.
  • 1871 The Osage in Kansas purchased land from Cherokee Nation, creating the Osage reservation.
  • 1874 The Pawnee tribe is removed from Nebraska to Indian Territory.

    The Red River or Buffalo War between the United States military, the Cheyenne, Arapaho, Comanche, and Kiowa Indians left the Indians subdued and confined to their reservations.
  • 1877 The Ponca tribe is removed from Nebraska to Indian Territory.
  • 1878 The Iowa Indians are removed from Nebraska and Kansas to Indian Territory.
  • 1880 The Boomer Movement, began under David L. Payne, campaigned to open the Unassigned Lands in central Indian Territory for settlement purposes. This generated discussion among the Cherokee and Creeks in an effort to thwart Payne's efforts.
  • 1884 David Payne died in Wellington, Kansas, and second incommand William Couch takes over.
  • 1887 The General Allotment Act, authored by US Senator Henry L. Dawes, passed Congress.
  • 1889 The Unassigned Lands opened to settlement in the first of five land runs.
  • 1890 The Oklahoma Territory was organized.

    The Jerome Commission began work to induce tribes (other than the Five Tribes and the Osage) to cede lands and take allotments in severalty.
  • 1891 The Sac & Fox-Shawnee lands were opened for settlement.
  • 1892 The Cheyenne & Arapaho lands were opened for settlement.
  • 1893 The Dawes Commission was created.

    The Cherokee Outlet is opened with 100,000 persons making the run for homesteads.
  • 1894 Geronimo's band of Chiricahua Apaches, after being subdued by the military in 1886, removed as prisoners to Florida then later to Alabama are finally relocated to Fort Sill.
  • 1898 The Curtis Act passes Congress forcing the Five Tribes to treat with the Dawes Commission.
  • 1899 The Muscogee-Creek, Seminoles, Choctaws, and Chickasaws are enrolled by the Dawes Commission.
  • 1900 The Cherokee Nation is enrolled by the Dawes Commission.
  • 1901 The Kiowa, Comanche, Wichita & Affiliated Bands lands are opened for settlement by lottery.
  • 1906 The Osage Nation takes allotments in severalty. The Osage Nation is the only tribe that retained mineral rights after allotment, from which members continue to benefit.

    The Dawes Commission Final Rolls for the Five Tribes is closed.
  • 1907 Oklahoma became a state.