American Indians in Oklahoma
The Tribes of Oklahoma
Absentee Shawnee Tribe
The original homeland of the Absentee Shawnee was the northeast United States, including the areas of Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Kentucky, Tennessee, and Pennsylvania. The tribe is known as "Absentee" because they did not join the rest of the Shawnee tribe at the Kansas reservation between 1825 and 1840. The tribe settled in Oklahoma by 1840 in the Shawnee area (central Oklahoma).
The Absentee Shawnee Tribe speaks English, as well as their native Algonquian dialect. The Absentee Shawnee lived in wigwams, which are rounded huts or tents made of hide, bark, or woven mats. The women were typically responsible for tending the farms, as the men hunted and fished.
The seal features a profile of the great Shawnee leader Tecumseh wearing a red headdress against a bright yellow field. Two stylized black and white eagle feathers extending beyond the edges of the seal cross behind him diagonally. Circling the center image on the red field are the tribe's Shawnee and English names in black.
For more information, visit www.astribe.com/astribe.
Alabama-Quassarte Tribal Town
The original homeland of the Alabama-Quassarte Tribal Town is in Alabama. These two tribes, the Alabama and Quassarte, merged and became members of the Creek Confederacy in 1763. The Alabama-Quassarte came to Oklahoma during Indian removal in 1835 and settled near Wetumka in the east-central part of the state.
The language of the Alabama-Quassarte is part of the Muscogean language family.
For more information, visit www.alabama-quassarte.org.
Apache Tribe of Oklahoma
The Apache Tribe of Oklahoma originated in the Great Plains area of the United States: Arizona, Colorado, Texas, and Mexico. They settled in Oklahoma around Anadarko (the southwest part of the state) in 1800. The Apache Tribe of Oklahoma has its own unique Apache language.
For more information visit www.apachetribe.org
The Caddo Nation has occupied the areas of present-day Louisiana, Arkansas, Texas, and Oklahoma for thousands of years. The Caddo sold much of their homelands in 1835 and began migrating to the central part of Indian Territory.
The Caddo language is a dialect of the Southern Caddoan language. Their language is endangered, as only a few elderly speakers remain. The Caddo were known for trading and for their elaborate pottery and they were the earliest American Indians, known as mound builders. They built mounds to bury their dead, celebrate lives, and to honor offerings to spirits.
The Caddo Nation seal depicts a performance of the “Turkey Dance.” The dance is performed by the women and children of the tribe who also sing, while the men sing and drum. The design at the bottom of the seal symbolizes the door to the world beyond, as well as the four stages of life and the four cardinal directions.
For more information, visit mycaddonation.com
Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribes of Oklahoma
The Cheyenne have origins in the Rocky Mountains and the Great Plains; the Arapaho originated in northern Minnesota. The Cheyenne migrated south to present-day Nebraska, Wyoming, and Colorado, joining forces with the Arapaho in the early 1800s. The tribes banded together in order to have more lands and a stronger force in the plains area in approximately 1811.
Around 1869, the Cheyenne and Arapaho arrived in Indian Territory near El Reno. The headquarters for the Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribes is in Concho, Oklahoma.
For more information, visit https://cheyenneandarapaho-nsn.gov.
Citizen Potawatomi Nation
The original homeland of the Citizen Potawatomi Nation was in present-day Indiana. From there they were forced to Kansas on the Trail of Death. The Citizen Potawatomi moved into the area south of Shawnee, Oklahoma, starting in 1861. The Citizen Potawatomi Nation lived in wigwams, and were known as traders and warriors.
The Potawatomi language is a part of the Algonquian languages and is in a stage of resurgence. The Citizen Potawatomi Nation has taken many efforts to educate the new generations with their native language.
For more information, visit www.potawatomi.org
The Comanche Nation originated in the Southern Plains, spread out in present-day Colorado, Wyoming, Oklahoma, New Mexico, and Texas. The Comanche have been in various parts of Oklahoma since the late eighteenth century. Their headquarters is in Lawton, Oklahoma.
The flag's color scheme is the blue, red, and gold—the ceremonial colors of men's blankets in Peyote Meetings and the Gourd Dance. The warrior on the horse and the phrase "Lords of the Southern Plains" are included because the Comanche were the protectors of the Southern Plains. A snake is symbolized with the curved line through the middle of the seal.
The Comanche have their own language, which has seen a revival within the tribe since 1994.
The Delaware Nation originated in the northeastern United States, in the present-day states of New Jersey, New York, Delaware, and Pennsylvania. The Delaware Nation came to Oklahoma Territory in 1868 and settled in southwest Oklahoma near Anadarko.
The language of the Delaware is Lenape, part of the Eastern Algonquian language. The Delaware symbol is the Tulamakum and the TaaKox, meaning Grandfathers and Turtle in Lenape. The turtle is the Unami clan's animal symbol; the clan from which this group of Delaware descended. The turtle's colors represent trade blankets that are used in ceremonies.
For more information, visit www.delawarenation.com
Delaware Tribe of Indians
The Delaware Tribe of Indians, or the Eastern Delaware, originated in the northeastern United States. The Delaware were known as grandfathers to other tribes, as they were the origin of other tribes who moved as the tribe grew. They migrated west after they lost their lands to the Walking Treaty in 1737. The Delaware Tribe was forced to settle in Indian Territory in 1867. Their headquarters is in Bartlesville, Oklahoma.
There are two bands of Delaware in Oklahoma because they split from each other in the early 1800s.
The seal of the Delaware features Mesingw, the guardian spirit of game animals. The word Lenape is also on the seal, which means "The People."
For more information, visit delawaretribe.org
Eastern Shawnee Tribe of Oklahoma
The original homeland of the Eastern Shawnee Tribe of Oklahoma was in the middle of the Ohio Valley, in the areas of present-day Kentucky and West Virginia. The Eastern Shawnee Tribe came to Oklahoma in the early nineteenth century under Indian removal, settling near present-day Wyandotte.
The Eastern Shawnee Tribe was historically a nomadic tribe, staying in bark-covered long houses in the summer and in small hunting camps in the fall. The Shawnee have their own native language, Shawnee. The women were the planters and gatherers, and the men were the hunters and warriors. The Eastern Shawnee Tribe was known for their aggressiveness in battle, and the most famous Eastern Shawnee warrior is Tecumseh.
For more information, visit www.estoo-nsn.gov
Fort Sill Apache Tribe
The members of the Fort Sill Apache Tribe are descendants of the Chiricahua Apache tribe. Their original homeland included areas in southwest New Mexico, southeast Arizona, and northern Mexico. They came to Oklahoma in 1894 after being held as US prisoners of war. The Fort Sill Apache stayed in Oklahoma after their release because they anticipated a return to their homeland. The Fort Sill Apache headquarters is in Apache, Oklahoma, in the southwest part of the state.
For more information, visit www.fortsillapache-nsn.gov.
Iowa Tribe of Oklahoma
The Iowa (Ioway) Tribe of Oklahoma originated in the areas of present-day Wisconsin and Iowa. The Iowa call themselves Bah Kho-je, which means "People of the Gray Snow." They began coming to Oklahoma in 1878, and their headquarters is based in Perkins, Oklahoma.
The central part of the Iowa seal is a circle, which represents the Circle of Life. The focal point of the seal is an Iowa warrior bonnet with eagle feathers. Eagles are sacred to the Iowa; they believe the bird is a connection between God and their tribe. There is also a sacred pipe and a plow in the circle. The pipe represents the pipes each clan used in sacred rituals. The plow is a pivotal part of the Iowa culture, as they were successful farmers until removal. The fringe signifies the buffalo hide, and the eagle feathers at the bottom symbolize the four seasons.
For more information, visit www.bahkhoje.com.
The Kaw Nation originated in Kansas and they came to Kay County, Oklahoma, in 1872. The Kaw lived in bark-covered lodges and spoke Kanza, a Dhegiha language. The Kaw Nation was known for its warriors who tried to protect their original homelands until the Treaty of 1825. Their headquarters is located in Kaw City, Oklahoma.
According to the Kaw Nation website, "The Kaw Nation Seal symbolizes the relationship between the Southwind and the Kaw (Kanza) people. The Kaw lived long with the Southwind and the Southwind with them. The south wind travels far and fast and knows the movements of the buffalo and other foragers. The wind conducts reconnaissance on enemies and carries messages to and from allies. The wind knows where nuts, fruits, and grains grow, and the hiding place of squirrel, rabbit, and turkey. The tribe was of the Siouan linguistic stock and Kansa, or Kansas, is a Siouan word which means Wind People or People of the Southwind."
For more information, visit www.kawnation.com.
Kialegee Tribal Town
The Kialegee Tribal Town has its origin with the Creek Confederacy in what is now Alabama and Georgia. The Kialegee Tribal Town settled near Henryetta, Oklahoma, in 1836. They moved close to Wetumka in 1899.
The Kialegee Tribal Town has a matrilineal culture. The native tribal language is Muscogee, and they were known as mound builders.
The blue flag of the Tribal Town is made largely of the Kialegee Tribal Town Seal. The seal includes a set of stickball sticks in the center, an important game in Muscogee (Creek) culture. The cross symbolizes the Christian faith of many modern Muscogee (Creek) people. The eagle is shown as an important symbol of strength for both the Muscogee (Creek) and the United States. A mound and ceremonial lodge are at the base of the seal.
For more information, visit www.kialegeetribal.webstarts.com.
Kickapoo Tribe of Oklahoma
The Kickapoo Tribe originated in the Great Lakes region of the United States in present-day Michigan and Ohio. The Kickapoo came into Oklahoma in 1873. The Kickapoo language is a Central Algonquian language. The Kickapoo lived in villages with bark-covered homes.
The seal of the Kickapoo Tribe has a tribal meeting house on an oval shield with a Kickapoo arrow behind it. From the shield hang three white-and-black eagle feathers symbolizing the three subgroups of the Kickapoo people.
For more information, visit www.kickapootribeofoklahoma.com.
The native lands of the Kiowa Tribe were in northwest Canada. The Kiowa Tribe settled into the southwest part of Oklahoma in the early nineteenth century.
The seal reminds the tribe of the traditions of six warrior societies. At the center is a warrior riding an Appaloosa of the tribe's northern homelands, surrounded by a wreath of ten white-and-black eagle feathers. The ten feathers recall the "Ten Bravest" warrior society.
The warrior shield shows the sacred Rainy Mountain where the "Great Tribal Journey" ends. The red Principal Dog sash hangs as a symbol of leadership and protection. A lightning bolt painted on the horse's front leg represents the "voice of thunder in the spring," a symbol of the Oh-ho-ma Society. The blue sky and blood-red hand on the horse's hindquarter are part of the Koitsenko warrior tradition.
For more information, visit www.kiowatribe.org.
Miami Tribe of Oklahoma
The Miami (My-am-uh) Nation is originally from the Great Lakes region of the United States. The Miami Nation settled into the northeastern part of Oklahoma around 1867. The native language of the Miami Nation is Myaamia.
For more information, visit www.miamination.com.
The Modoc Nation originated in present-day California and Oregon. They were forcibly removed to the northeastern part of Oklahoma in 1874 as punishment for the Modoc War of 1872–1873. The language of the Modoc Nation is Klamath-Modoc.
The seal of the Modoc Nation is bordered in white. Ten feathers hang from the seal. The central design of the seal is an eagle flying over a dark blue ocean with a coastline appearing at the bottom of the seal. The coastline symbolizes the original homeland of the Modoc people in southern Oregon and northern California.
For more information, visit https://modocnation.com/.
The original lands of the Osage Nation were in the areas of Arkansas, Missouri, and Kansas. The Osage Nation settled in the north/northeastern part of Oklahoma in 1865. Dhegiha Siouan is the language of the Osage, as well as the Kaw and Ponca. Their language is similar to the Otoe-Missouria and Iowa tribes.
The meaning of the Osage Nation Seal: The golden circle represents tribal prosperity, and the arrowhead symbolizes the hunt. The pipe represents peace and friendship, and the eagle feather represents tribal authority.
One of the many notable Osage, Maria Tallchief, was known for her breakthrough as not just the first prima ballerina of the New York Ballet, but also the first American Indian in ballet.
For more information visit www.osagenation-nsn.gov.
The Otoe-Missouria Tribe originated in the Great Lakes area of the United States. They migrated southwest into the present states of Nebraska, Iowa, Missouri, and Kansas. The Otoe-Missouria came to Oklahoma in 1881 and settled what is now known as Red Rock.
The Otoe-Missouria language is of Siouan origin and is the same language spoken by the Iowa Tribe. They were known as hunter-gatherers and hunted buffalo. The Otoe-Missouria was the first tribe to sign a treaty with Lewis and Clark on their expedition for President Jefferson.
The seal of the Otoe-Missouria has the symbols of the seven remaining clans: buffalo, beaver, eagle, bear, pigeon, owl, and elk.
For more information, visit www.omtribe.org.
Ottawa Tribe of Oklahoma
For more information, visit www.ottawatribe.org.
The Ottawa Tribe originated in the Great Lakes area of North America; Ontario, Canada, and the state of Michigan. The Ottawa Tribe settled in the northeastern area of Indian Territory in 1867. The Ottawa were known as traders, particularly with the French. They wore buckskin clothing and lived in wikis (wigwams). The Ottawa language is from the Anishinaabemowin language family.
The tribal seal includes an evergreen tree, which symbolizes the Tree of Life, and grass knoll recalling the tribe’s origins in the Northeast Woodlands, while the canoe represents their trading skills. The war club was used by the Ottawa in combat and hunting, and the otter refers to the clan that most Ottawa descended from. The water is a symbol of the source of all life.
One of the most distinguished Ottawa chiefs was Pontiac. He was responsible for rebelling against the British in the 1762–1763.
Pawnee Nation of Oklahoma
The Pawnee Nation originated along Nebraska’s Platte River and in Northern Kansas. They came to north-central Oklahoma in 1875.
The Pawnee Nation flag has a blue background, with red and white accent colors. The small American flag represents the Pawnee Nation's loyalty to America, as the colors of the flag symbolize America. The wolf represents what the Plains Indians called the courageous Pawnee: "wolves." Under the wolf are the symbols of war and peace: the peace pipe crossed with a tomahawk. The arrowheads across the bottom of the Pawnee flag symbolize the wars they fought in while serving the United States military, beginning with the Indian Wars and the service of the Pawnee Battalion in the US Army in 1865.
For more information, visit www.pawneenation.org.
Peoria Tribe of Indians of Oklahoma
The Peoria Tribe is a confederation of the Kaskaskisa, Piankeshaw, Peoria, and Wea Indians. They banded together to form the Peoria Tribe in 1854. The Peoria originally lived in the Midwestern United States: Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio, and Missouri.
The language of the Peoria was the Miami-Illinois, and their headquarters is located in Miami, Oklahoma.
Their tribal emblem includes four arrows, each representing one of the original tribes: turquoise symbolizes the Piankashaw and their native soil; red represents the Peoria and the sun; blue stands for the Wea and the waters; and green represents the Kaskaskia, grass, and trees.
For more information visit www.peoriatribe.com.
Ponca Tribe of Oklahoma
The Ponca Tribe was once part of the Omaha Tribe. Their original homeland was in present-day Nebraska and South Dakota. The Ponca were brought to Oklahoma in 1877 to the Kay County area (Ponca City).
Standing Bear was an important leader of the Ponca Tribe. After the tribe had been removed to Indian Territory, Standing Bear's son passed away. Standing Bear returned to Nebraska to bury him and was arrested for leaving the reservation and put on trial. After the trial, it was decided that Standing Bear was being held illegally, and all American Indians were to be treated like any other person under the 14th Amendment of the Constitution.
For more information, visit www.ponca.com.
The Quapaw Nation originated in the Arkansas/Mississippi River Valley, near the Mississippi River. The Quapaw settled into the northeastern corner of Oklahoma Territory in 1834. The Quapaw language is Dhegiha Siouan, and is related to the Osage language.
There are many important symbols on the flag of the Quapaw. In the early 1700s, the Quapaw depended on the buffalo for many things, most notably for food, tanning, and painting buffalo robes to trade. The four eagle feathers represent the cardinal points of the land, and the number four is sacred to the tribe. The Quapaw hold the eagle in high esteem because it flies the highest; therefore they believe it talks with God, and the eagle feather is included in many Quapaw ceremonies. The red and blue background represents the blanket used in meetings of the American Indian church. The blanket was made from an old trade cloth and was used as leggings, breechcloths, and skirts. The word O-GAH-PAH means Quapaw, with the translation being "down stream people."
For more information, visit www.quapawtribe.com.
Sac and Fox Nation
The Sac (Sauk) and Fox Nation began in the western Great Lakes area of the United States. They came to central Oklahoma, near present Stroud, in the 1870s. The Sac and Fox have their own language, the Sauk language.
The most well-known member of the Sac and Fox Nation is Jim Thorpe, considered the greatest athlete of the twentieth century. His accomplishments in the Olympics are recognized by the Olympic rings above the black hawk on the Sac and Fox seal. The black hawk with a shield is representative of the Sac and Fox leader Black Sparrow Hawk, who fought for his people.
For more information, visit www.sacandfoxnation-nsn.gov.
The Seneca-Cayuga Nation of Oklahoma has their roots in the area now known as New York, then moved to Ohio before coming to Indian Territory. They were removed and brought to Delaware County, Oklahoma, in 1831. Their current headquarters is in Miami, Oklahoma. The language of the Seneca-Cayuga Tribe is Cayuga.
For more information, visit www.sctribe.com.
The original lands of the Shawnee were in the Ohio River Valley and the states of Pennsylvania, Virginia, Georgia, and Alabama. The Shawnee were relocated into the northeastern part of Indian Territory in 1869. The tribe's headquarters is located in Miama, Oklahoma.
The Shawnee language is an Algonquian dialect. The Shawnee Tribe was known for their silverwork and basket weaving; the weaves were so tight the baskets could hold water.
For more information, visit www.shawnee-tribe.com.
Thlopthlocco Tribal Town
The Thlopthlocco Tribal Town originated as part of the Creek Confederacy in the present-day states of Alabama and Georgia. They were removed to Indian Territory on the Trail of Tears and settled along the North Canadian River in the 1830s. The Thlopthlocco Tribal Town's headquarters is in Okemah, Oklahoma.
For more information, visit www.tttown.org.
Tonkawa Tribe of Indians of Oklahoma
The Tonkawa Tribe originated in the area of south-central Texas. The Tonkawa relocated to northern Oklahoma Territory in 1859.
The Tonkawa language is Tonkawan linguistics. The Tonkawa were a nomadic people and lived in tipis or brush shelters. The Tonkawa were well-known warriors.
The meaning of the seal:
The red earth and red hill on the horizon represents "La Tortuga" (the turtle), the sacred place of their birth, the genesis of the Tonkawa people. The sacred pipe represents Tonkawa connectedness to the Creator and the deliverance of life from Mother Earth. The sacred water bird image represents the rising up of the spirit and flesh of the Tonkawa to assume its place among God's creation. The red and blue bi-coloration portrays the counter-forces of a worldly existence. The crimson crescent represents the sacred altar place of their church, the foundation of traditional religion. The rising sun represents the Tonkawa people, a renaissance of their tribe within a contemporary society. The twelve stars represent the original twelve clans of the Tonkawa Tribe. The circular shape represents the sacred and eternal circle of life, at the center of which stands the Almighty God as the beginning and the ending.
For more information, visit www.tonkawatribe.com.
United Keetoowah Band of Cherokee Indians in Oklahoma
The United Keetoowah Band of Cherokee Indians in Oklahoma have their origins in Arkansas since the late eighteenth century. They moved into what is now Oklahoma in 1828 along the Arkansas, Canadian, and Grand Rivers. The United Keetoowah Band is headquartered in Tahlequah, Oklahoma.
The language of the United Keetoowah Band of Cherokee Indians in Oklahoma is Keetoowah Cherokee.
For more information, visit www.keetoowahcherokee.org.
Wichita and Affiliated Tribes
The Wichita and Affiliated Tribes consist of the Wichita, Waco, Keechi, and Tawakoni Tribes. Their original homeland was in the Central and Southern Plains of the United States: Texas, Oklahoma, and Kansas. The Wichita and Affiliated Tribes have always been in and around Oklahoma; they were forced out by the Confederates in 1863 during the Civil War. Only a few were able to return to Indian Territory in 1867.
The Wichita and Affiliated Tribes have their own language, Wichita, which is a Caddoan language. They originally lived in grass houses in the spring, summer, and fall, going on buffalo hunts and living in tipis during the winter.
For more information, visit www.wichitatribe.com.
The original homeland of the Wyandotte Nation was in the Great Lakes Region of the United States. They relocated to Indian Territory in 1857 and are currently headquartered in Wyandotte, Oklahoma. The native language of the Wyandotte Nation is Northern Iroquoian.
The symbol of the Wyandotte is the turtle, and the tribe's origin stories teach that the world was created on a turtle. The willow branches above the turtle signify the influence of Christianity, while the war club and peace pipe represent war and peace. In the center of the turtle is the council fire of the Council of Nations. The twelve points of the shield signify the twelve clans of the Wyandotte.
For more information, visit www.wyandotte-nation.org.