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Tribal Removal | OHS Research Center

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Removal of American Indian Tribes to Oklahoma

Earliest Period to 1830

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.

The Second Period, 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 today's 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.

Present Indian nations that received new homelands in today's Oklahoma during this period:

  • Absentee Shawnee
  • Cherokee
  • Delaware
  • (Muscogee) Creek
  • Seneca-Cayuga
  • Tonkawa
  • Wyandotte
  • Alabama-Quassarte
  • Chickasaw
  • Eastern Shawnee
  • Ottawa
  • Seminole
  • United Keetoowah
  • Yuchi (Euchee)
  • Caddo
  • Choctaw
  • Kialegee
  • Quapaw
  • Thlopthlocco
  • Wichita

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 assigned to Oklahoma reservations during this period:

  • Apache
  • Citizen Potawatomi
  • Fort Sill Apache
  • Kickapoo
  • Modoc
  • Pawnee
  • Sac and Fox
  • Arapaho
  • Comanche
  • Iowa
  • Kiowa
  • Osage
  • Peoria
  • Shawnee
  • Cheyenne
  • Delaware
  • Kaw
  • Miami
  • Ponca
  • Otoe-Missouria