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The Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History and Culture


From 1890 until Oklahoma's statehood in 1907, the term "Twin Territories" was used to refer to Oklahoma and Indian territories. Most of present Oklahoma was called Indian Territory in the early 1800s. Indian Territory was primarily the home of the Plains Indians until the Five Tribes were relocated there in the first half of the nineteenth century. The domain of the Five Tribes was reduced to approximately the eastern half of present Oklahoma by the Reconstruction Treaties of 1866.

In 1889 the Unassigned Lands in the central part of present Oklahoma were opened for non-Indian settlement and called Oklahoma Territory by the Organic Act (1890). Following allotment in severalty by American Indians, Oklahoma Territory expanded primarily by opening unallotted land to settlers through other land runs, a lottery, and an auction. As additional areas such as the Oklahoma Panhandle and Greer County were added by the federal government in 1890 and 1896, respectively, Oklahoma Territory would eventually include the western half of the future state.

Over the years, leaders from each territory attempted to make each individual territory a separate state. The main attempt by the Five Tribes was the Sequoyah Convention of 1905. Convention members drew up a constitution for the separate state of Sequoyah, and tribe members presented it to Congress in Washington, D.C. However, Congress passed the Oklahoma Enabling Act in 1906, effecting the union of the Twin Territories to form the State of Oklahoma. The act authorized the election of delegates from Oklahoma and Indian territories to a constitutional convention in preparation of Oklahoma statehood, which occurred on November 16, 1907.

The concept of the Twin Territories was highlighted by the publication of Twin Territories: The Indian Magazine. It designated itself as "the only publication of its class in the Indian Territory, and named in honor of both the Indian Territory and Oklahoma." This publication highlighted the commonalities and differences of these two territories from the American Indian's point of view.

William D. Pennington


Arrell M. Gibson, Oklahoma: A History of Five Centuries (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1981).

John W. Morris, Charles R. Goins, and Edwin G. McReynolds, Historical Atlas of Oklahoma (2d ed.; Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1976).

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Territorial Era


The following (as per The Chicago Manual of Style, 17th edition) is the preferred citation for articles:
William D. Pennington, “Twin Territories (term),” The Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History and Culture, https://www.okhistory.org/publications/enc/entry?entry=TW003.

Published January 15, 2010

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