Libraries at University of Nebraska-Lincoln


Date of this Version

Winter 2012


THE CHRONICLES OF OKLAHOMA 89:4 (Winter 2011-12), pp. 496-498.


Published by the Oklahoma Historical Society. Copyright 2011 Charles Bernholz.


The creation of the Okmulgee Constitution was a significant chapter in the history of Indian Territory and Oklahoma, but it is less well-known beyond those boundaries. This instrument was initially fashioned in 1870 and later contemplated at joint tribal meetings mandated by the federal government following the Civil War. The Five Civilized Tribes had been removed from the southeastern United States to lands obtained through the Louisiana Purchase in the first half of the nineteenth century, and at the beginning of the Civil War these and other tribes of Indian Territory consummated nine treaties with the Confederate States of America. Following that conflict and those alliances, the tribes found themselves in desperate straits with the federal government. In seven stipulations presented at Fort Smith in September 1865 and through a series of new treaties formed the following year, federal authorities dictated future prospects. Significantly, proviso number six from the Fort Smith assembly declared that "it is the policy of the government, unless other arrangements be made, that all the nations and tribes in Indian territory be formed into one consolidated government, after the plan proposed by the Senate of the United States, in a bill for organizing the Indian territory."