Removal of Tribes to Oklahoma
Tribes in Oklahoma Before Removal
In 1803 when the United States assumed control of the area that became Oklahoma, native 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:
Maps of Tribal Nation Land
These maps depict the changes in tribal nation boundaries as tribes were removed to present-day Oklahoma. Click on the icons below to view a larger map in PDF format.
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 tribes to move to new homelands west of the Mississippi River in the Indian Territory. The Five 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 white 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)
- Catawba (moved voluntarily to Choctaw Nation)
- Delaware, Western
- Eastern Shawnee
- Keechi (Kichai)
- Muscogee (Creek)
- Seneca-Cayuga (including Conestoga, Erie)
- Shawnee, Eastern
- United Keetoowah
- 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 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, Lipan
- Delaware, Eastern
- Fort Sill Apache
- Kaw (Kansa)
- Miami (including Eel River Indians)
- Nez Perce
- Peoria (including Cahokia, Illinois, Kaskaskia, Michigamea, Tamaroa)
- Sac and Fox
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.
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.
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.”
The Quapaws native to Arkansas signed a treaty accepting land or reservation of one million acres between the Arkansas and Ouachita Rivers.
Delawares, or Lenapes, 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.
Miamis living in Indiana cede land under provisions of the Treaty of St. Mary's.
The Kickapoo (originally from Wisconsin) sign a treaty removing them from Illinois to Missouri; however, a remnant band remained in Illinois harassing white settlements.
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.
Missouri became a state.
- 1824 Quapaws ceded all their lands in Arkansas Territory, moving to northwest Louisiana and residing with the Caddo.
Fort Gibson and Fort 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 Osages, as the Cherokee were encroaching on Osage lands.
The Indian Removal Act fostered by President Jackson passed Congress.
The Treaty of Dancing Rabbit Creek stipulated the removal of Choctaws from Mississippi.
The Choctaw Nation began removal from Mississippi to Indian Territory, becoming the first of the Five Tribes to be forcibly removed.
Several tribes in Ohio signed treaties requiring removal from the state, including the Senecas, Shawnees, and Ottawas.
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.
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 a treaty that ceded land and requires removal.
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.
The Treaty of New Echota provided for the removal of all Cherokees east of the Mississippi River.
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.
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 Senecas.
The Wyandotte tribe removed from Ohio.
The Sauk and Fox of Iowa ceded land and prepared for removal within Kansas.
Florida became a state.
Texas entered the Union.
Miamis removed from Indiana.
Iowa entered the Union.
Wisconsin became a state.
The Potawatomis removed from Wisconsin.
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.
The Seminoles of Florida removal era ends.
The Texas tribes located at the Brazos Reserve are removed to the Leased District in western Indian Territory near the Wichitas.
Abraham Lincoln is elected president.
The Civil War began.
Kansas entered the Union.
The Treaty of Little Arkansas River assigned reservation to Cheyenne, Arapahos, Kiowas, and Comanches in western Indian Territory.
The Civil War ended.
Repressive treaties are concluded with the Five Tribes, reducing their land base in Indian Territory.
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.
Fort Sill is established in southwestern Indian Territory.
The Osage in Kansas purchased land from Cherokee Nation, creating the Osage reservation.
The Pawnee tribe is removed from Nebraska to Indian Territory.
The Red River (or Buffalo War) between the United States military, Cheyennes, Arapahos, Comanches, and Kiowas left the tribes subdued and confined to their reservations.
The Ponca tribe is removed from Nebraska to Indian Territory.
The Iowas are removed from Nebraska and Kansas to Indian Territory.
The Boomer Movement, started 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 attempt to thwart Payne’s efforts.
David Payne died in Wellington, Kansas, and second-in-command William Couch takes over.
The General Allotment Act, authored by US Senator Henry L. Dawes, passed Congress.
The Unassigned Lands opened to settlement in the first of five land runs.
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.
The Sac and Fox-Shawnee lands were opened for settlement.
The Cheyenne and Arapaho lands were opened for settlement.
The Dawes Commission was created.
The Cherokee Outlet is opened with 100,000 persons making the run for homesteads.
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.
The Curtis Act passes Congress forcing the Five Tribes to treat with the Dawes Commission.
The Muscogees (Creek), Seminoles, Choctaws, and Chickasaws are enrolled by the Dawes Commission.
The Cherokee Nation is enrolled by the Dawes Commission.
The Kiowa, Comanche, and Wichita and Affiliated Bands lands are opened for settlement by lottery.
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.