Home |  PublicationsEncyclopedia |  Shawnee Hills

The Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History and Culture


The Shawnee Hills are located in northwestern Pittsburg County, northwest of McAlester between the Hughes-Pittsburg County line and Indianola, and are primarily situated in an east-west direction parallel to the south bank of the main Canadian River. With elevations reaching nearly 1,000 feet above sea level, the hills overlie the Arkoma Basin, located north of the Ouachita Mountain Province, and consist of west-dipping Pennsylvanian-age sandstone ridges overlooking plains of marine-deposited shales. The area soils are primarily of the Enders-Hector-Hartsells association, consisting of well-drained and excessively well-drained, moderately deep to shallow loamy soils overlying sandstones and shales. Post oak and blackjack oak timbers comprise the dominant native vegetation, and approximately 85 percent of the native cover remains.

Archaeological evidence suggests that prehistoric hunters and foragers inhabited the area from approximately 8000 B.C. to A.D. 1, at which time farming began to replace this lifestyle. Caddoan farmers probably inhabited the hills until the late 1500s when the climate turned drier, after which the early buffalo hunter culture developed. In 1830, according to the Treaty of Dancing Rabbit Creek, the Shawnee Hills became part of the Choctaw Nation.

After European settlement the Shawnee Hills were a prominent landmark on the Shawnee Trail, a cattle trail connecting the herds in Texas with a shipping point in Baxter Springs, Kansas. Despite being overshadowed by the nearby Sans Bois, Jackfork, and Ouachita mountains, the Shawnee Hills continue to provide a picturesque, intact timberland environment rich with native flora and fauna.

Jamie J. Patton and Richard A. Marston


Claudette Marie Gilbert, Oklahoma Prehistory (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1980).

Kenneth S. Johnson, "Mountains, Streams, and Lakes of Oklahoma," Oklahoma Geological Survey Informational Series No. 1 (Norman: Oklahoma Geological Survey, 1998).

Kenneth S. Johnson et al., Geology and Earth Resources of Oklahoma: An Atlas of Maps and Cross Sections (Norman: Oklahoma Geological Survey, 1972).

John W. Morris, Charles R. Goins, and Edwin C. McReynolds, Historical Atlas of Oklahoma (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1986).

Browse By Topic



The following (as per The Chicago Manual of Style, 17th edition) is the preferred citation for articles:
Jamie J. Patton and Richard A. Marston, “Shawnee Hills,” The Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History and Culture, https://www.okhistory.org/publications/enc/entry?entry=SH013.

Copyright and Terms of Use

No part of this site may be construed as in the public domain.

Copyright to all articles and other content in the online and print versions of The Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History is held by the Oklahoma Historical Society (OHS). This includes individual articles (copyright to OHS by author assignment) and corporately (as a complete body of work), including web design, graphics, searching functions, and listing/browsing methods. Copyright to all of these materials is protected under United States and International law.

Users agree not to download, copy, modify, sell, lease, rent, reprint, or otherwise distribute these materials, or to link to these materials on another web site, without authorization of the Oklahoma Historical Society. Individual users must determine if their use of the Materials falls under United States copyright law's "Fair Use" guidelines and does not infringe on the proprietary rights of the Oklahoma Historical Society as the legal copyright holder of The Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History and part or in whole.