This 1895 Atlas map depicts Oklahoma Territory in pink and Indian Territory in yellow. (Library of Congress)
What's In a Name? The Many Faces of Oklahoma History

People unfamiliar with southwestern history can get mightily confused with the different names given to the state of Oklahoma. And
because it is a relatively young state, many don't even know the copious history that exists, anyway. Unlike any other state in the Union,
Oklahoma's history can be readily identified by the various legal names it has carried over the years.

Becoming American
The area that is now Oklahoma had both Spanish and French claims to it, but ultimately the Americans gained the land through the
Louisiana Purchase of 1803 (the Louisiana Purchase boundary was deemed to go a bit south of the Red River into Texas, and this is why
the first
American settlements of Texas occurred along the Red River, not at Austin's colony.  However, the 1819 Adams-Onis Treaty
defined the boundary better). The Oklahoma panhandle was not included in the Adams-Onis Treaty and remained "no-man's land" up until
Oklahoma Organic Act of 1890.

Indian Territory
The Louisiana Purchase made the land that would become Oklahoma a border state, and  was considered a kind of buffer between the Aglo
east and the Spanish west. Maybe that's why Andrew Jackson decided that the area would become the new homelands for expelled Indian
tribes in the East; in any event, he designated the land "Indian Territory" and throughout his administration several tribes were expelled
from their homes. The Cherokee, Choctaw, Chickasaw, Seminole, and Creek - who had been designated the "Five Civilized Tribes" - thus
made the hard journey west to an unfamiliar and very different landscape. The tribes had known large hardwood forests and lush bottom
lands. Indian Territory was rocky, dry, and brushy.

Some of the Native Americans set up life in their new lands that approximated their old ways, but many members had become
"Americanized" through the years and continued that behavior. As they had been expelled from southern states, all of the tribes owned
slaves, but the slaves' treatment differed considerably in each group. They also brought with them cotton culture.

Civil War
The Civil War along the Red River merits a whole other section; suffice to say, the South lost, and as Indian Territory had been deemed by
the Union as Confederate sympathizers. Of course, that was not completely true; there were Unionists and Confederates not just within the
territory, but among the tribes as well. It was literally brother fighting brother in some instances. Most of the Indians did not own slaves or
have plantations, and they resented having to fight for those who did.

After the war, the federal government voided all previous treaties with the Five Civilized Tribes, even though half of the tribes had
remained loyal. The 1866 Treaties with each of the Five Civilized Tribes stipulated that, among other conditions, the tribes allow their lands
to the west to be redistributed for an new influx of dispossessed Indians. The tribes were also to release land to the railroad right of way.
The breakdown of Indian Territory had begun.

Oklahoma Territory
When the railroads, speculators and new tribes entered, the old communal land holding ways of the Native Americans were ignored. The
new tribes were forced to homestead a certain number of acres through the Dawes Severalty Act. The left-over acreage was then free
game for speculators, bankers, and railroad and industry promoters, and they promoted settlement by calling on white homesteaders.

The first Land Run on the unassigned lands - in the middle of the state, where Oklahoma City now lies - occurred by presidential
Proclamation on April 22, 1889. Congress decided to protect the eastern part of the territory by establishing the Oklahoma Organic Act
(1890), which designated that the east remain "Indian Territory" and the west become "Oklahoma Territory." Oklahoma Territory was
considered white man's land.

The End of Indian Territory
The Dawes Commission Act of 1893 was lauded as an attempt to get Indian Territory to act more "American" - meaning, to lose their
communal ways and become private property holders. The Act, which passed as a rider to an Indian appropriations bill, stipulated that all
Indians had to register with the Indian Bureau to claim benefits (many did not for fear of persecution), and that the land of the Five
Civilized Tribes would be redistributed by allotment. The remaining acreage would then be opened for settlement via a land lottery. By
1906, the lands were allotted, the open lands grabbed up, and the "last frontier" was now settled. It was time for statehood.

Oklahoma or Sequoyah?
Indian Territory had proposed to be its own separate state, named Sequoyah, but Congress didn't buy it. Instead, Theodore Roosevelt
signed the Enabling Act, which made the territories eligible for statehood - but only as one unit. The territorial government did not even
recognize Indian nationhood anymore.

After the Constitutional Convention of 1906 in Guthrie, to which all counties within Oklahoma and Indian territories sent delegates, the new
state was founded. Oklahoma was admitted into the Union as the 56th state on September 17, 1907.

The history of the creation of Oklahoma is one of deceit, opportunity, and dreams. Of all the states in the Union, it surely is the most
fascinating story - and the most tragic.
An overgrown remnant of the Old Military Road through Boggy Depot, Shawnee Cattle Drive stop and Civil War ghost town
The backside of downtown Idabel
Oil became a booming business for Oklahoma after statehood. For the most part, Native American tribes were paid for the oil. But all lost
substantial amounts of their lands. The Osage oil fields north of Oklahoma City were so rich that unscrupulous men married Osage women,
then murdered them, to obtain their oil leases.
A Brief History on Names
Trail blazer Black Beaver, a Delaware man who worked for the U.S. Army, assisted Creeks fleeing violent retributions and lawlessness during
the Civil War by forging a path between the Creek Nation and Kansas. A portion of this road become the route for the
Chisholm Trail.
Questions or comments? E-mail me: robin@redriverhistorian.com
The former Missouri Kansas Texas Railroad depot in Adair, Oklahoma is situated close to Route 66 and the Shawnee cattle trail.
A post card of the picturesque Union Station in Durant. (Oklahoma Historical Society)
Land rush towns, like Round Pond (north central Oklahoma), practically appeared overnight. (1894, National Archives.)
Perry, another land rush town, had a "hell's half acre." (1893, National Archives).
I like to take photos "behind the scenes," because often, bare history can be captured this way. Like this grocery store in Hugo.