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The following photograph was contributed by
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Chitto Harjo
1846-1911
Also Known As: Crazy Snake; Wilson Jones
Nationality: American
Occupation: Warrior
INTRODUCTION
The Crazy Snake Movement of 1900-1909, named after its leader Chitto Harjo (chit-to ha-cho), marked a significant transition for the Five Nations (Cherokee, Creek, Chickasaw, Choctaw, Seminole). Members of this movement, commonly referred to as Crazy Snakes, demanded that the Creek National Council and the President of the United States enforce the Treaty of 1832, which guaranteed the Five Nations a specified amount of land in Oklahoma. Although unsuccessful, the movement is symbolic of resistance to the forces of assimilation in the twentieth century. Fear of a Snake uprising in 1901 resulted in the use of federal troops to arrest and imprison Harjo. Fear of a Snake uprising in 1909 resulted in Harjo's death and the eventual decline of the movement.
NARRATIVE ESSAY:
Harjo was born in 1846 in Arbeka, a Creek town on the Deep Fork River in Oklahoma, the most western town in the Creek territory. Prior to the removal of the Creek from Alabama in the 1830s, Arbeka was a sacred village located on the upper Coosa River in Alabama and held legendary significance as one of the four original Creek towns. Arbeka was known as "the gate of the Muskogees." Here, Arbeka warriors guarded the Creek Confederacy against surprise attack. Runners warned people of danger by bringing the war whoop to other Creek towns. In the summer of 1900, when Chitto Harjo spoke against allotment at Creek stomp dances, he fulfilled his traditional role of carrying the war whoop to his people.
Harjo is a common second name among Creeks. It means "recklessly brave, one who is brave beyond discretion." It is usually translated as mad or crazy. Chitto is a derivation of the Creek word catto, which means snake. Harjo's name communicated distinction based on daring and courage, with a tinge of imprudence, to Creeks. He was known more intimately to family and friends as Bill Jones, Bill Snake, and Bill Harjo.
FORMATION OF THE FOUR MOTHERS NATION
The Creeks eluded the Dawes Act (1887), which divided tribal lands, for 11 years, but the passage of the Curtis Act (1898), which eliminated tribal governments, blocked further tribal efforts to avoid the Dawes Act and escape allotment. In 1899, the majority of Creek people acquiesced to the inevitable by selecting and registering their allotments and Pleasant Porter was elected Principal Chief on a platform of cooperation with the Dawes Commission.
Dissident Creeks opposed allotment because it violated previous treaties, especially the Treaty of 1832. They initially called themselves the "adherents of the Opothle Yahola Treaty." Chitto Harjo always referred to them as "Loyal Creeks." Local newspapers often referred to them as conservative fullbloods. Creek leaders called them the "ignorant class" of Creek people. Eventually, the dissenters were called "Crazy Snakes" after their leader, Chitto Harjo.
Creek protestors of allotment formed the nucleus of the Crazy Snake movement. The majority of Snakes arrested by U.S. Marshals in 1901 were Creek. However, opposition to allotment was not uniquely Creek. Cherokees, Choctaws, Chickasaws, and Seminoles, who also opposed allotment, joined forces with Harjo. Tribal representatives attended Snake meetings and organized snake factions among their people. After Harjo's arrest in 1901, the Crazy Snakes rapidly grew into an intertribal movement against allotment. In 1908, the Snake movement culminated in the formation of the Four Mothers Nation, an Indian organization for collective political action in the state of Oklahoma.
ORGANIZATION OF THE CRAZY SNAKE MOVEMENT
Hickory Ground was the center of Snake activity. Located 30 miles southwest of Checotah, Hickory Ground ranked eighth in size among 48 Creek towns with a population of 343. Residents of Hickory Ground had many pre- removal attitudes, including a strong anti-American sentiment and distrust of kinsmen who cooperated with whites. Therefore, the tribal conflict over allotment was rooted in centuries of factional enmity between Hickory Ground residents and pro-American Creeks.
The nature and history of the Creeks made factional discord over allotment inevitable. Political differences between Creek factions saturate Creek history. Harjo learned about the trauma of removal from his parents. He intimately experienced the differences that led Creeks to fight against each other during the Civil War, Reconstruction, and the Green Peach War. Factions evolved around local leaders whenever there was major discord, particularly in Creek relations with Anglo-Americans. Therefore, Creeks who opposed allotment resorted to the traditional Creek method of dissension.
Chitto Harjo was not the initial leader of the opposition movement. In 1900 Lahtah Micco was the micco (head chief) of Hickory Ground. Harjo was his heneha, the eloquent orator who made announcements and speeches for Lahtah Micco. Lahtah Micco wielded the power at Hickory Ground, but Harjo's speeches attracted the most attention, establishing him foremost among the dissenters to his white neighbors.
Harjo was elected micco of Hickory Ground in the spring of 1900 after illness had stranded Lahtah Micco in Washington for more than six months. Lahtah Micco had led a delegation to Washington to persuade the President of the United States to enforce the Treaty of 1832. All the delegation, except Harjo, contracted small pox. Harjo left the delegation quarantined in Washington and returned to Hickory Ground to organize Creek resistance to allotment. As the movement grew in size, white neighbors and government agents called its members "Snakes" after their charismatic orator.
The Snakes sought control of Creek affairs. They elected Chitto Harjo as their Principal Chief and adopted a code of laws for Creeks living in the Hickory Ground vicinity. They also erected a new tribal emblem in the Hickory Ground square. Harjo appointed a Light-Horse unit (police force); and, in a bold move, the Snakes claimed jurisdiction over Okmulgee, the site of the Creek Council House, where the National Council met in session.
HARJO IMPRISONED FOR SNAKE ACTIVITY
Harjo and the Snakes were regarded lightly until Snake Light-Horse started enforcing Snake laws. Public whippings and ear croppings generated fear among non-Creeks. After Snake leaders threatened to kill Principal Chief Porter, National Council members and Dawes Commissioners requested federal help to end Snake resistance. Troop A of the Eighth United States Cavalry from Fort Reno and a dozen deputy United States marshals set up camp near Henryetta. A bloody confrontation was expected, but the arrest of Harjo and other Snake leaders was quick and bloodless. Ninety-six Snakes, from age 14 years to 88 years, were arrested.
The Snakes appeared in the U.S. District Court of Judge John R. Thomas, where they pleaded guilty to four charges. Judge Thomas sentenced them to two years at Leavenworth, then immediately suspended the sentences upon their pledge to live in peace. He promised future imprisonment at Leavenworth if they continued their resistance. The threat of jail did not stop Harjo from further organizing Snake opposition to allotment. He eluded arrest for ten months, but deputy marshals captured him in the spring of 1902. He and nine others were imprisoned at the Leavenworth federal penitentiary in March 1902, where they served the remainder of their two-year sentence.
HARJO APPEALS TO THE UNITED STATES SENATE
Harjo took his opposition directly to the U.S. Senate in the summer of 1906. A select Senate Committee came to Indian Territory to investigate matters related to the termination of the Five Nations. On November 23, 1906, Harjo attended the public hearing in Tulsa, Oklahoma. When Harjo addressed the Senators, the clash of cultures was painfully evident. Harjo's style was difficult for the Senators to understand. In traditional, eloquent Creek oratory, Harjo petitioned the committee to restore the Treaty of 1832. He did not sway action by the Senators, but he embarrassed them by challenging the ambiguous legal status of Indians.
In 1909, after years of enmity between the Snakes and their neighbors, a shootout between Checotah police officers and Chitto Harjo resulted in Harjo's death. Even though Snake activity had subsided after their Leavenworth imprisonment, white fears of an uprising never disappeared. A large gathering of Snakes at the Hickory Ground Green Corn ceremony in the summer of 1908 scared citizens of Checotah and Henryetta. In addition, much to the displeasure of Henryetta citizens, Hickory Ground had allowed many displaced Black families from Henryetta to set up a tent camp near the town. Unemployed and landless, the families resorted to theft to feed themselves.
A posse from Henryetta rode to the tent camp and a shootout ensued as they tried to arrest suspected thieves. The posse opened fire and killed several Black men. Harjo and other Snake leaders were not at the camp. Harjo was at home, located 20 miles from Hickory Ground. McIntosh County Sheriff William L. Odom blamed Harjo for the incident. He sent four deputies to arrest Harjo. At sundown, March 27, 1909, as the officers approached Harjo's cabin, one of Harjo's friends shot and killed two officers. A bullet from the officers found its way through the cabin and struck Harjo in the leg above the knee. This wound eventually proved fatal.
The death of the two officers created a furor in Checotah and Henryetta. A larger posse returned to Harjo's home to find him gone. They shot at the women in the cabin, forcing them to flee, and burned Harjo's property to the ground. Consumed with revenge, vigilante groups roamed the vicinity pillaging Snake farms in search of Harjo. An alarmed Governor Haskell called out the state militia. The First Regiment of the Oklahoma National Guard occupied Hickory Ground with 200 guardsmen. They quickly restored order, but they did not capture Chitto Harjo. His disappearance resulted in many legends about his death. He most likely died on April 11, 1911, at the home of his Choctaw friend, Daniel Bob, from the gunshot wound in his hip. Snakes continued their efforts to block assimilation through World War I.
Views about Harjo were mixed at the time of statehood. Creek leaders and mixed-bloods viewed Harjo as ignorant, backwards, and an embarrassment to the tribe. Non-Indians labeled him the most dangerous Indian in Oklahoma because they believed he intended to kill every white person in the region. Other tribes viewed him as smart and eloquent, but many refused to follow him in the later years of the movement because they feared imprisonment at Leavenworth. Today, the Creek Nation views Harjo as a sincere, honest warrior-statesman, a shrewd and charismatic leader.
Chitto Harjo did not halt the encroachment of white culture upon the Creeks. However, the significance of his efforts transcends his failure to enforce the Treaty of 1832. Harjo's inclusive oratory disseminated seeds of intertribal cooperation that blossomed into an official political organization called the Four Mothers Nation. Moreover, he built a foundation on which intertribal political activism has flourished throughout the twentieth century and forged a coalition designed to influence the United States within acceptable forms of the dominant culture.
Biography Resource Center
©2001, Gale Group, Inc.
Chitto Harjo

Chitto Hargo, generally referred to as Craze Snake, who was known among the whites as Wilson Jones, was the leader of the disillusioned full blood Creeks after the collapse of the Green Peach War and the retirement of Isparhecher.
In 1892, Congress created the Dawes Commission, giving it power to survey the land of Indian Territory, determine those who were qualified to be allotted land and make these allotments. The Curtis Act of 1898 abolished tribal laws and courts. In 1900, the Creek Nation agreed to submit to allotment, thereby consenting to accepting the work of the Dawes Commission and the Curtis Act.
In the winter of 1898, the U. S. Government sent troops to put down the "uprising". Various ones were arrested. Grant Johnson, Negro U.S. Deputy Marshal arrested Crazy Snake at his home. He and several of his supporters were taken to Muskogee where they were tried and sentenced to two years in Leavenworth but the sentence was not carried out, as they were offered a parole if they enrolled voluntarily and would be given allotments in the vicinity in which they lived. About half of them kept the agreement. Those that did not were arbitrarily enrolled and given what was considered to be less valuable land. Crazy Snake and Jackson Barnett were in the group. Ironically, oil was struck on much of this land among which was that of Jackson Barnett, one of the richest Indians in the United States.
Chitto Harjo, as a member of the House of Kings, had repeatedly warned the Creek leaders this calamity would befall the proud people and they would lose their sovereignty. He gathered a number of full bloods and freedmen together, declared himself their chief and established his capital as the Hickory Stomp Grounds near the community of Pierce. He urged his followers to refrain from enrolling with the Dawes Commission, since it was customary among the Creeks (as well as the other so-called civilized tribes) to have all land held by the tribe with the individual merely using it without title.
According to United States Deputy Marshal W. F. Jones, he went to Harjo's home near Pierce where he gave a young Indian interpreter the copy of a summons to come to Muskogee to enroll with the Dawes Commission. The interpreter gave it to Harjo who was sitting in a wooden chair. Jones then rode off. The interpreter later told him Harjo tore up the summons and stomped it.
Harjo did not make his appearance. Instead, he called a meeting at the Hickory Stomp Grounds. The court then issued a warrant for his arrest for contempt of court. Jones served the warrant. The interpreter read the warrant, whereupon Harjo got on his horse and went peaceably with Jones to Checotah,. Jones then took him to Muskogee and put him in jail.
He was then taken to the Dawes Commission where the enrollment plan was explained to him. Harjo made a tentative agreement giving the impression that if freed, he would urge his followers to be enrolled.
Harjo returned home and called a meeting of his followers at Hickory Stomp Grounds, where they remained two weeks carrying on to such as extent the white neighbors became frightened. During this time there was communication between his interpreter and a Washington, D.C. lawyer concerning the Indians' rights. Some of the Indians were supposed to have threatened the whites that they were going to seize their lands.
According to John Bartlett Meserve in Chronicles of Oklahoma, Harjo and a group of his followers were arrested in 1901 at which time his picture was taken of their being in the Muskogee jail.
According to Jones, Harjo again called a meeting of his followers in 1903. "With the same reign of terror", they were arrested and again sentenced to Leavenworth serving a two year term. Harjo was sent February 15, 1903.
The following was taken from an article by John Bartlett Meserve in Chronicles of Oklahoma, Vol. XI, No III.

THE PLEA OF CRAZY SNAKE

Late in the fall of 1906, a Special Investigating Committee came to Indian Territory to investigate and report upon general conditions. Secretary of the Interior Garfield accompanied the committee which was composed of Senators Teller of Colorado, Clark of Montana, Brandage of Connecticut and Long of Kansas. Public hearings were held at the principal points of the Territory, and on November 23rd, the committee opened at 10 o'clock a hearing in Tulsa. The meeting was held in the old Elk's Lodge hall in the Seaman Building on West Third Street, and when the session opened the hall was packed to its capacity.
Chitto Harjo, accompanied by perhaps a dozen associates, occupied conspicuous front seats, and the old warrior's presence being noted by the committee, he was accorded an opportunity to address the solons. Rising solemnly and with much deference, the "Snake" chief with the late David M Hodge at his side as interpreter, advanced to the committee and with marked eloquence which held the committed and the spectators spellbound, delivered what might be said to be the last protest of an expiring race. The scene was dramatic and one which will ever linger in the annals of Tulsa. Harjo spoke calmly, used no gestures and with no hesitation for language to express himself as follows:
"I will begin with a recital of the relations of the Creeks with the Government of the United States from 1861, and I will explain it so you will understand it. I look to that time - to the treaties of the Creek Nation with the United States - and I abide by the provisions of the treaty made by the Creek Nation with the Government in 1861. I would like to inquire what had become of the relations between the Indians and the white people from 1492 to 1861."
"My ancestors and my people were the inhabitants of this great country from 1492. I mean by that from the white man first came to this country until now. It was my home and the home of my people from time immemorial and is today, I think, the home of my people. Away back in that time - 1492 - there was a man by the name of Columbus came from across the great ocean, and he discovered this country for white man - this country which was at that time the home of my people. What did he find when he first arrived here? Did he find a white man standing on this continent then, or did he find a white man or a black man standing on this continent? I stood here first and Columbus first discovered me."
"I want to know what did he said to the red man at that time. He was one of the great four roads that led to light. At that time Columbus received the information what was given to him by my people. My ancestors informed him that he was ready to accept this light he proposed to give him and walk these four roads of light and have his children under his direction. He told him it was all right. He told him, "This land is all yours; the law is all yours." He said it is all right. He told him, "I will always take care of you. If your people met with any troubles, I will take their troubles away. I will stand before you and behind you and on each side of you and your people, and if any people come into your country, I will stand by you and preserve you and defend you and protect you.
"There is a law," he said, at that time, "that is above every other law and that is away up yonder - high up - for if any other town or nation or any other tribe come against you, it will not make any difference, for I will combine with you and protect you and overthrow them all. I will protect you in all things and take care of everything about your existence so you will live in this that is yours and your fathers without fear..." That is what he said, and we agreed upon those terms. He told me that as long as the sun shone and the sky is up yonder these agreements will be kept. This was the first agreement that we had with the white man. He said that as long as the sun rises it shall last; as long as the waters run it shall last; as long as the grass grows it shall last. That is what the agreement was and we agreed upon those terms. We signed our names to that agreement and to those terms. He said, "Just as long as you see light here; just as long as you see this light glimmering over us, shall these agreements be kept and not until all these things shall pass away shall our agreement pass away." That is what he said and we believed it. I think there is nothing that has been done by the people should abrogate them. We have kept every term of that agreement. The grass is growing, the waters run, the sun shines, the light is with us and the agreements is with us yet, for the God that is above us all witnessed that agreement. He said to me that whoever did anything against me was doing it against him and against the agreement, and he said that if anyone attempted to do anything against me, to notify him for whatever was done against me was against him and therefore against the agreement. He said that he would send good men among us to teach us about God and to treat them good, for they were his representatives and to listen to them, and if anyone attempted to molest us to tell them (the missionaries) and they would tell him. He told me that he would protect me in all ways; that he would take care of my people and look after them; that he would succor them if the needed succor and be their support at all times, and I told him it was all right, and he wrote the agreement that way.
"Now coming down to 1832 and referring to the agreement between the Creek people and the Government of the United States. What has occurred since 1832 until today: It seems that some people forget what has occurred. After all, we are all one blood; we have the one God and we live in the same land. I had always lived back yonder in what is now the state of Alabama. We had our homes back there. We had our troubles back there and no one to defend us. At that time when I had these troubles, it was to take my country away from me. I had no other troubles. The troubles were always about taking my country from me. I could live in peace with all else, but they wanted my country, and I was in trouble defending it. It was no use. They were bound to take my country away from me. It may have been that my country had to be taken from me, but it was not justice. I have always been asking for justice. First there was this and then it was something else that was taken away from me and my people, so we couldn't stay there any more. It was not because a man had to stand on the outside of what was right that brought the troubles. What was to be done was all set out yonder in the light and all men knew what the law and the agreement was. It was a treaty - a solemn treaty - but what difference did it make?
"When the white brothers raised in arms and tried to destroy one another, it was not for the purpose of destroying treaties with the Indians. They did not think of that, and Indian was not the cause of that Great War at all. The cause of the war was because there were people that were black in skin and color that had always been in slavery. In my home in Alabama and all through the south part of the Nation and out in this country, these black people were held in slavery, and up in the North, there were no slaves. The people of that part of the United States determined to set the black man free, and the people of south determined that they should not, and they went to war about it. In that war, the Indians had not, any part. It was not their war at all. The purpose of the war was to set these black people at liberty, and I had nothing to do with it. He told me come out here and have my laws back, and I came out here with my people and I had my own laws and was living under them. On account of some of your own sons, the ancient brother of mine, they came over here and caused me to enroll along with my people on your side. I left my home and my country and everything I had in the world and went rolling on toward the Federal Army. I left my laws and my government; I left my people and my country and my home; I left everything and went to the Federal Army for my father in Washington. I left them in order to stand by my treaties. I left everything, and I arrived in Kansas on the Missouri River. I arrived at Leavenworth to do what I could for my father's country and stand by my treaties. There at Leavenworth was an orator of the Federal Army. It was terrible hard times with me then. In that day I was under the sons of my father in Washington. I was the Federal soldiers."
"I am speaking now of this orator in the Federal Army. I went and fell before him, and I and my people joined the Federal Army because we wanted to keep our treaties with the father in Washington. Things should not have been the way they were. The father in Washington was not able to keep his treat with us, and I had to leave my country, as I have stated and go to the Federal Army. I went in as a Union soldier. When I took the oath, I raised my hand and called God to witness that I was ready to die in the cause that was right and to help my father defend his treaties. All this time the fire was going on and the battles were going on, and today, I have conquered all and regained these treaties that I have with the Government. I believe that everything wholly and fully came back to me on account of the position I took in the war. I thought then and I think today that is the way to do - to stand up and be a man that keeps his word all the time and under all circumstances. This is what I did and I know that in doing so I regained all my old treaties for the father in Washington conquered in that war and he promised me that if I was faithful in my treaties, I should have them all back. I was faithful to my treaties, and I got them all back again and today I am living under them and with them. I never agreed to the exchanging of lands, and I never agreed to the allotting of lands. I knew it would never do for my people, and I never could say a b c so far as that is concerned. I never knew anything about English. I can't speak the tongue. I can't read, I can't write, I and my people, great masses of them, are unenlightened, uneducated. I am notifying you of these things because your Government officials have told me and my people that they would take care of my relations with the Government, and they ought to be taking care of them as they promised. He said that if anyone trespassed on my right or questioned them, to let him know, and he would take care of them and protect them. I always thought this would be done; I believe yet it will be done. I don't know what the trouble is now. I don't know anything about it. I think my lands are all cut up. I have never asked that be done, but I understand it has been done. I don't know why it was done. My treaty said that it never would be done. I never made these requests.
"All that I am asking of you, Honorable Senators, is that the ancient agreements and treaties wherein you promised to take care of me any my people, be fulfilled and that you remove the difficulties that have been raised in reference to my people and that their country and I ask that you see that these promises are faithfully kept. I understand you are the representatives of the Government and here to look into things, and I hope you will relieve us. That is all I desire to say."
In response to the question by the chairman of the committee, the old Indian replied, "Oh , yes, I am a farmer. I have a farm and a home on it. I used to have horses and hogs and cattle, but I have precious few now. The white people have run all through me and over me and around me and have committed all sorts of depredations, and what I have left is precious few. I am here and stand before you today, my fathers, as a man of misery. I am depending on you to have the laws carried out."
Senator Teller of the committee inquired of Mr. Hodge, the interpreter, "Do you believe that the old man is honest in his statements?" Mr. Hodge very readily and with emphasis answered, "Yes Sir, he is as honest and straight forward and sincere in his statements as a living man can be."
After concluding his address, Harjo bowed low to the committee and retired from the hall with his followers.
A year later, Statehood came, bringing a new untried group of state, district and county officials.
Early in 1908 there were whisperings of another uprising in the Old Hickory Stomp Grounds. There was a rumor that Chitto Harjo was on the warpath, but he disappeared from sight for a few months.
"I want to say this to you today, because I don't want the ancient agreements between the Indian and the white man violated, and I went as far as Washington and had them sustained and made treaties about it. We made terms of peace, for it had been war, but we made new terms of peace and made new treaties. Then, it was overtures by the Government to my people to leave their land, the home of their fathers, the land that they loved. He said, 'It will be better for you to do as I want, for these old treaties cannot be kept any longer.' He said, 'You look way off to the west, away over backward, and you will see a great river called the Mississippi River, and away over beyond is another river called the Arkansas River.' And he said, 'You go way out there and you will find a land.
"What took place in 1861" I had made my home here with my people, and I was living well out here with my people. We were all prospering. We had a great deal of property here, all over the country. We had come here and taken possession of it under our treaty. We had laws that were living laws, and I was living under the laws. I was living here in peace and plenty with my people, and we were happy, and then my white fathers rose in arms against each other to fight each other. They did fight each other. At that day, President Lincoln was President of the United States and our Great Father. He was in Washington, and I was away down here. My white brothers divided into factions went to war.

THE SMOKED MEAT REBELLION

During the winter of 1908-1909, a group of renegades raided the smokehouses of the whites in the vicinity of the Old Hickory Stomp Grounds near Pierce. One version is that a dog chased a rabbit into one of the smokehouses, causing considerable damage. The whites were jittery, as there had been considerable activity around the stomp grounds.
Though it is almost certain that none of the Snakes, the followers of Crazy Snake, were involved, they were blamed for the predications.
The incidents frighten the white settlers, who sent a runner to Checotah asking for protection.
Doc Odom, Sheriff of McIntosh County, was not available, so Frank Jones, United States Deputy Marshal, he picked up a posse consisting of Herman Odom, the son of the sheriff, Lee Bateman, Ed Baum, Bill Carr, and Frank Swift of Muskogee. They were all deputized March 27, 1909.
According to Jones, the well-armed posse got in a hack and went to Pierce, a mile south of Crazy Snake's home. The posse was told about 40 or 50 were at Harjo's home. As they approached the house, they saw an Indian who was evidently a lookout. The Indian ran, but was overtaken and arrested. Swift was left to guard him, and the remainder of the posse proceeded to the house.
As the posse approached the house, a number of Indians ran across a meadow and into the woods, shooting at Jones and his men.
Jones and his men returned fire. Herman Odom and Ed Baum were killed and seven Indians were killed with several being wounded. The remainder of the Indians escaped, taking their dead and wounded with them. Crazy Snake was among the wounded.
Jones and his men were out of ammunition, so they returned to Checotah and called Governor Haskell, who called out the National Guard under Roy Hoffman to endeavor to capture Crazy Snake and his followers.
Crazy Snake was eventually able to make his way to the home of Daniel Bob where he died April 11, 1911, of a gunshot wound sustained in the raid.
This last phase of difficulty was unfortunate, resulting from the jitters caused by renegades participating in vandalism on the whites with the Snakes being blamed for it. The newspapers of the day played up the affair beyond its importance. John Winthrop Flenner, city editor of the Muskogee Democrat at the time made such an observation.


Chitto Harjo

Chitto Harjo, generally referred to as Craze Snake, who was known among the whites as Wilson Jones, was the leader of the disillusioned fullblood Creeks after the collapse of the Green Peach War and the retirement of Isparhecher.
In 1892, Congress created the Dawes Commission, giving it power to survey the land of Indian Territory, determine those who were qualified to be allotted land and make these allotments. The Curtis Act of 1898 abolished tribal laws and courts. In 1900, the Creek Nation agreed to submit to allotment, thereby consenting to accepting the work of the Dawes Commission and the Curtis Act.
In the winter of 1898, the U. S. Government sent troops to put down the "uprising". Various ones were arrested. Grant Johnson, Negro U.S. Deputy Marshal arrested Crazy Snake at his home. He and several of his supporters were taken to Muskogee where they were tried and sentenced to two years in Leavenworth but the sentence was not carried out, as they were offered a parole if they enrolled voluntarily and would be given allotments in the vicinity in which they lived. About half of them kept the agreement. Those that did not were arbitrarily enrolled and given what was considered to be less valuable land. Crazy Snake and Jackson Barnett were in the group. Ironically, oil was struck on much of this land among which was that of Jackson Barnett, one of the richest Indians in the United States.
Chitto Harjo, as a member of the House of Kings, had repeatedly warned the Creek leaders this calamity would befall the proud people and they would lose their sovereignty. He gathered a number of fullbloods and Freedmen together, declared himself their chief and established his capital as the Hickory Stomp Grounds near the community of Pierce. He urged his followers to refrain from enrolling with the Dawes Commission, since it was customary among the Creeks (as well as the other so-called civilized tribes) to have all land held by the tribe with the individual merely using it without title.
According to United States Deputy Marshal W. F. Jones, he went to Harjo's home near Pierce where he gave a young Indian interpreter the copy of a summons to come to Muskogee to enroll with the Dawes Commission. The interpreter gave it to Harjo who was sitting in a wooden chair. Jones then rode off. The interpreter later told him Harjo tore up the summons and stomped it.
Harjo did not make his appearance. Instead, he called a meeting at the Hickory Stomp Grounds. The court then issued a warrant for his arrest for contempt of court. Jones served the warrant. The interpreter read the warrant, whereupon Harjo got on his horse and went peaceably with Jones to Checotah,. Jones then took him to Muskogee and put him in jail.
He was then taken to the Dawes Commission where the enrollment plan was explained to him. Harjo made a tentative agreement giving the impression that if freed, he would urge his followers to be enrolled.
Harjo returned home and called a meeting of his followers at Hickory Stomp Grounds, where they remained two weeks carrying on to such as extent the white neighbors became frightened. During this time there was communication between his interpreter and a Washington, D.C. lawyer concerning the Indians' rights. Some of the Indians were supposed to have threatened the whites that they were going to seize their lands.
According to John Bartlett Meserve in Chronicles of Oklahoma, Harjo and a group of his followers were arrested in 1901 at which time his picture was taken of their being in the Muskogee jail.
According to Jones, Harjo again called a meeting of his followers in 1903. "With the same reign of terror", they were arrested and again sentenced to Leavenworth serving a two year term. Harjo was sent February 15, 1903.
The following was taken from an article by John Bartlett Meserve in Chronicles of Oklahoma, Vol. XI, No III.

THE PLEA OF CRAZY SNAKE

Late in the fall of 1906, a Special Investigating Committee came to Indian Territory to investigate and report upon general conditions. Secretary of the Interior Garfield accompanied the committee which was composed of Senators Teller of Colorado, Clark of Montana, Brandage of Connecticut and Long of Kansas. Public hearings were held at the principal points of the Territory, and on November 23rd, the committee opened at 10 o'clock a hearing in Tulsa. The meeting was held in the old Elk's Lodge hall in the Seaman Building on West Third Street, and when the session opened the hall was packed to its capacity. Chitto Harjo, accompanied by perhaps a dozen associates, occupied conspicuous front seats, and the old warrior's presence being noted by the committee, he was accorded an opportunity to address the solons. Rising solemnly and with much deference, the "Snake" chief with the late David M Hodge at his side as interpreter, advanced to the committee and with marked eloquence which held the committed and the spectators spellbound, delivered what might be said to be the last protest of an expiring race. The scene was dramatic and one which will ever linger in the annals of Tulsa. Harjo spoke calmly, used no gestures and with no hesitation for language to express himself as follows:
"I will begin with a recital of the relations of the Creeks with the Government of the United States from 1861, and I will explain it so you will understand it. I look to that time - to the treaties of the Creek Nation with the United States - and I abide by the provisions of the treaty made by the Creek Nation with the Government in 1861. I would like to inquire what had become of the relations between the Indians and the white people from 1492 to 1861."
"My ancestors and my people were the inhabitants of this great country from 1492. I mean by that from the white man first came to this country until now. It was my home and the home of my people from time immemorial and is today, I think, the home of my people. Away back in that time - 1492 - there was a man by the name of Columbus came from across the great ocean, and he discovered this country for white man - this country which was at that time the home of my people. What did he find when he first arrived here? Did he find a white man standing on this continent then, or did he find a white man or a black man standing on this continent? I stood here first and Columbus first discovered me."
"I want to know what did he say to the red man at that time? He was one of the great four roads that led to light. At that time Columbus received the information what was given to him by me people. My ancestors informed him that he was ready to accept this light he proposed to give him and walk these four roads of light and have his children under his direction. He told him it was all right. He told him, "This land is all yours; the law is all yours." He said it is all right. He told him, "I will always take care of you. If your people met with any troubles, I will take their troubles away. I will stand before you and behind you and on each side of you and your people, and if any people come into your country, I will stand by you and preserve you and defend you and protect you.
"There is a law," he said, at that time, "that is above every other law and that is away up yonder - high up - for if any other town or nation or any other tribe come against you, it will not make any difference, for I will combine with you and protect you and overthrow them all. I will protect you in all things and take care of everything about your existence so you will live in this that is yours and your fathers without fear..." That is what he said, and we agreed upon those terms. He told me that as long as the sun shone and the sky is up yonder these agreements will be kept. This was the first agreement that we had with the white man. He said that as long as the sun rises it shall last; as long as the waters run it shall last; as long as the grass grows it shall last. That is what the agreement was and we agreed upon those terms. We signed our names to that agreement and to those terms. He said, "Just as long as you see light here; just as long as you see this light glimmering over us, shall these agreements be kept and not until all these things shall pass away shall our agreement pass away." That is what he said and we believed it. I think there is nothing that has been done by the people should abrogate them. We have kept every term of that agreement. The grass is growing, the waters run, the sun shines, the light is with us and the agreements is with us yet, for the God that is above us all witnessed that agreement. He said to me that whoever did anything against me was doing it against him and against the agreement, and he said that if anyone attempted to do anything against me, to notify him for whatever was done against me was against him and therefore against the agreement. He said that he would send good men among us to teach us about God and to treat them good, for they were his representatives and to listen to them, and if anyone attempted to molest us to tell them (the missionaries) and they would tell him. He told me that he would protect me in all ways; that he would take care of my people and look after them; that he would succor them if the needed succor and be their support at all times, and I told him it was all right, and he wrote the agreement that way.
"Now coming down to 1832 and referring to the agreement between the Creek people and the Government of the United States. What has occurred since 1832 until today: It seems that some people forget what has occurred. After all, we are all one blood; we have the one God and we live in the same land. I had always lived back yonder in what is now the state of Alabama. We had our homes back there. We had our troubles back there and no one to defend us. At that time when I had these troubles, it was to take my country away from me. I had no other troubles. The troubles were always about taking my country from me. I could live in peace with all else, but they wanted my country, and I was in trouble defending it. It was no use. They were bound to take my country away from me. It may have been that my country had to be taken from me, but it was not justice. I have always been asking for justice. First there was this and then it was something else that was taken away from me and my people, so we couldn't stay there any more. It was not because a man had to stand on the outside of what was right that brought the troubles. What was to be done was all set out yonder in the light and all men knew what the law and the agreement was. It was a treaty - a solemn treaty - but what difference did it make?
"When the white brothers raised in arms and tried to destroy one another, it was not for the purpose of destroying treaties with the Indians. They did not think of that, and Indian was not the cause of that great war at all. The cause of the war was because there was people that were black in skin and color who had always been in slavery. In my home in Alabama and all through the south part of the Nation and out in this country, these black people were held in slavery, and up in the North, there were no slaves. The people of that part of the United States determined to set the black man free, and the people of south determined that they should not, and they went to war about it. In that war, the Indians had not, any part. It was not their war at all. The purpose of the war was to set these black people at liberty, and I had nothing to do with it. He told me come out here and have my laws back, and I came out here with my people and I had my own laws and was living under them. On account of some of your own sons, the ancient brother of mine, they came over here and caused me to enroll along with my people on your side. I left my home and my country and everything I had in the world and went rolling on toward the Federal Army. I left my laws and my government; I left my people and my country and my home; I left everything and went to the Federal Army for my father in Washington. I left them in order to stand by my treaties. I left everything, and I arrived in Kansas on the Missouri River. I arrived at Leavenworth to do what I could for my father's country and stand by my treaties. There at Leavenworth was an orator of the Federal Army. It was terrible hard times with me then. In that day I was under the sons of my father in Washington. I was the Federal soldiers."
"I am speaking now of this orator in the Federal Army. I went and fell before him, and I and my people joined the Federal Army because we wanted to keep our treaties with the father in Washington. Things should not have been the way they were. The father in Washington was not able to keep his treat with us, and I had to leave my country, as I have stated and go to the Federal Army. I went in as a Union soldier. When I took the oath, I raised my hand and called God to witness that I was ready to die in the cause that was right and to help my father defend his treaties. All this time the fire was going on and the battles were going on, and today, I have conquered all and regained these treaties that I have with the Government. I believe that everything wholly and fully came back to me on account of the position I took in the war. I thought then and I think today that is the way to do - to stand up and be a man that keeps his word all the time and under all circumstances. This is what I did and I know that in doing so I regained all my old treaties for the father in Washington conquered in that war and he promised me that if I was faithful in my treaties, I should have them all back. I was faithful to my treaties, and I got them all back again and today I am living under them and with them. I never agreed to the exchanging of lands, and I never agreed to the allotting of lands. I knew it would never do for my people, and I never could say a b c so far as that is concerned. I never knew anything about English. I can't speak the tongue. I can't read, I can't write, I and my people, great masses of them, are unenlightened, uneducated. I am notifying you of these things because your Government officials have told me and my people that they would take care of my relations with the Government, and they ought to be taking care of them as they promised. He said that if anyone trespassed on my right or questioned them, to let him know, and he would take care of them and protect them. I always thought this would be done; I believe yet it will be done. I don't know what the trouble is now. I don't know anything about it. I think my lands are all cut up. I have never asked that be done, but I understand it has been done. I don't know why it was done. My treaty said that it never would be done. I never made these requests.
"All that I am asking of you, Honorable Senators, is that the ancient agreements and treaties wherein you promised to take care of me any my people, be fulfilled and that you remove the difficulties that have been raised in reference to my people and that their country and I ask that you see that these promises are faithfully kept. I understand you are the representatives of the Government and here to look into things, and I hope you will relieve us. That is all I desire to say."
In response to the question by the chairman of the committee, the old Indian replied, "Oh , yes, I am a farmer. I have a farm and a home on it. I used to have horses and hogs and cattle, but I have precious few now. The white people have run all through me and over me and around me and have committed all sorts of depredations, and what I have left is precious few. I am here and stand before you today, my fathers, as a man of misery. I am depending on you to have the laws carried out."
Senator Teller of the committee inquired of Mr. Hodge, the interpreter, "Do you believe that the old man is honest in his statements?" Mr. Hodge very readily and with emphasis answered, "Yes Sir, he is as honest and straight forward and sincere in his statements as a living man can be."
After concluding his address, Harjo bowed low to the committee and retired from the hall with his followers.
A year later, Statehood came, bringing a new untried group of state, district and county officials.
Early in 1908 there were whisperings of another uprising in the Old Hickory Stomp Grounds. There was a rumor that Citto Harjo was on the warpath, but he disappeared from sight for a few months.
"I want to say this to you today, because I don't want the ancient agreements between the Indian and the white man violated, and I went as far as Washington and had them sustained and made treaties about it. We made terms of peace, for it had been war, but we made new terms of peace and made new treaties. Then, it was overtures by the Government to my people to leave their land, the home of their fathers, the land that they loved. He said, 'It will be better for you to do as I want, for these old treaties cannot be kept any longer.' He said, 'You look way off to the west, away over backward, and you will see a great river called the Mississippi River, and away over beyond is another river called the Arkansas River.' And he said, 'You go way out there and you will find a land.
"What took place in 1861" I had made my home here with my people, and I was living well out here with my people. We were all prospering. We had a great deal of property here, all over the country. We had come here and taken possession of it under our treaty. We had laws that were living laws, and I was living under the laws. I was living here in peace and plenty with my people, and we were happy, and then my white fathers rose in arms against each other to fight each other. They did fight each other. At that day, President Lincoln was President of the United States and our Great Father. He was in Washington, and I was away down here. My white brothers divided into factions went to war.

THE SMOKED MEAT REBELLION

During the winter of 1908-1909, a group of renegades raided the smokehouses of the whites in the vicinity of the Old Hichory Stomp Grounds near Pierce. One version is that a dog chased a rabbit into one of the smokehouses, causing considerable damage. The whites were jittery, as there had been considerable activity around the stomp grounds.
Though it is almost certain that none of the Snakes, the followers of Crazy Snake, were involved, they were blamed for the predications.
The incidents frighted the white settlers, who sent a runner to Checotah asking for protection.
Doc Odom, Sheriff of McIntosh County, was not available, so Frank Jones, United States Deputy Marshal, he picked up a posse consisting of Herman Odom, the son of the sheriff, Lee Bateman, Ed Baum, Bill Carr, and Frank Swift of Muskogee. They were all deputized March 27, 1909.
According to Jones, the well-armed posse got in a hack and went to Pierce, a mile south of Crazy Snake's home. The posse was told about 40 or 50 were at Harjo's home. As they approached the house, they saw an Indian who was evidently a lookout. The Indian ran, but was overtaken and arrested. Swift was left to guard him, and the remainder of the posse proceeded to the house.
As the posse approached the house, a number of Indians ran across a meadow and into the woods, shooting at Jones and his men.
Jones and his men returned fire. Herman Odom and Ed Baum were killed and seven Indians were killed with several being wounded. The remainder of the Indians escaped, taking their dead and wounded with them. Crazy Snake was among the wounded.
Jones and his men were out of ammunition, so they returned to Checotah and called Governor Haskell, who called out the National Guard under Roy Hoffman to endeavor to capture Crazy Snake and his followers.
Crazy Snake was eventually able to make his way to the home of Daniel Bob where he died April 11, 1911, of a gunshot wound sustained in the raid.
This last phase of difficulty was unfortunate, resulting from the jitters caused by renegades participating in vandalism on the whites with the Snakes being blamed for it. The newspapers of the day played up the affair beyond its importance. John Winthrop Flenner, city editor of the Muskogee Democrat at the time made such an observation.

 


 
 

Updated  Sunday, 27-Apr-2008 07:09:15 MDT

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