History of Seminole County, Oklahoma

 
Officially, Seminole County was formed when Oklahoma became a state in November of 1907. 
The real history of Seminole County actually began in the early 1800's in the current 
states of Georgia, Alabama and Florida.

The Seminoles began as part of the Creek Nation who were discovered by Spanish explorer 
De Soto, in present day Georgia.  

The Creek Nation had been unified under their Chief, Alexander McGillivray (b. 1740) until 
after the Revolutionary War.  By 1780, the Creek Nation was divided into two groups: The 
Upper and Lower Creek Indians.  After 1795, the portions of the Lower Creek Nation that had 
migrated into Florida began having political difficulties.  This friction resulted in a 
portion of the tribe moving to a different area.  They also took the name of Simanoli or 
Semanole, which means "runaway".  Thus the Seminole Nation was formed.

The Seminole were town dwellers and their government consisted of a head chief and council.  
The Nation itself was divided into bands, with each band being named for its captain.  

In 1819, the Spanish ceded Florida to the U.S. Shortly thereafter the Florida Territory was 
opened and settlers began moving in and colonizing the area.  This resulted in conflict
(known as the Seminole Wars) with the Seminole who did not want to give up their lands or way 
of life.

After years of conflict, the Seminole signed a treaty with the U.S. in 1823 and moved into 
the swamp lands of Florida. This was not to be their home though.  Unbeknownst to the 
Seminole, Andrew Jackson had already proposed the removal of the Indians to the west.  When
he became President, the Indian Removal Bill came into being in 1830.

The removal of the Seminole began in 1832 when Colonel James Gadsden negotiated the 
Treaty of Payne's Landing.  Shortly after the signing of this treaty, a group of tribal
members went West to scout out the proposed area for resettlement. While there they were
tricked into signing the Treaty of Fort Gibson which gave the Seminole land on which to 
live, however, they would be united with the Creek Nation.

Upon the return of the delegation, the tribe refused to acknowledge the agreement stating
they were without authority to speak for the entire tribe.  Despite their objections to the
Treaty, the U.S. set the date for the removal of the Seminole for January of 1836.

In the fall of 1835, the Seminole began an uprising. The Seminole War began in 1836 when a 
young Seminole leader, Osceola, refused to honor the treaty and move to Indian Territory.  
Osceola was accused of killing another Seminole leader, Emathla, for which he was 
arrested and imprisoned.  

After his release, Osceola and his followers surrounded Fort King and massacred 110 
soldiers. Osceola was captured in April 1836 and died in January of 1839, however, his 
followers continued their fight.  Wildcat and Billy Bowlegs became the leaders of the 
resistance, after Osceola's capture and death.

This war lasted seven years and reached its climax in 1843.

The removal of the Seminole had begun, despite the War.  In 1836 the first of the Seminole
emigrated to the Indian Territory.  The next groups of Seminole left Florida in 1838 with 
succeeding groups leaving until 1851 when their emigration was officially completed.  

Due to the war, the Seminole were the last of the Five Tribes to be settled in Indian 
Territory.  

After their arrival in Indian Territory, the Seminole settled into towns, each ruled by a 
local chief.  The chief, with his council, conducted business, passed and enforced laws for 
their town.

The Chief of the Seminole Nation, was a warrior named Micanopy.  His head councilor was 
Wildcat, also known as Coacoochee.  Once a year, the town chiefs and councils would gather to
conduct the business of the Seminole Nation.

Soon the Seminole became dissatisfied with the land and government arrangements between them 
and the Creek Nation. The Seminole were viewed as part of the Creek Nation and all decisions
made by the Seminole Councils were subject to review and approval by the Creek Nation.  This
angered some of the local Chiefs, especially Wildcat. During this time, Wildcat took his band
and settled in Coahuila, Mexico.  Years later some of the band returned, however, several did
not.  Today their descendants are called Muskogees.

In 1856, Seminole Chief John Jumper and his council met with Creek leaders in Washington.  A 
treaty was signed giving the Seminole their own independent domain.  This land was a 
narrow strip lying between the Canadian River, the North Fork of the Canadian River, the 
middle of present day Pottawatomie County and west to the one hundredth parallel.

After attaining their own land, the Seminole moved and began the process of building their
capitol near Wanette, in present day Pottawatomie County.  

In 1861 the Civil War began and many of the tribes aligned themselves with the Confederacy. 
When the Confederate surrendered, the lands of the Indian Nations were considered conquered
territory.  The result was the negotiation of new treaties, in 1866, in which the Nations lost 
considerable portions of their land. 

By 1879, the Indian Territory was in need of a judicial system.  There were twice as many
whites (as there were Indians) living in the Territory, the majority of whom were outlaws.  
The only law in the Indian Territory were the ones of each Indian tribe.  For the white 
intruders there were no laws and crime was a commonplace event.  For whites who were caught, 
justice was handled in the U.S. Federal Courts in Fort Smith, Arkansas, Paris, Texas 
and Wichita, Kansas.

In 1889, the passage of the Indian Appropriation Act redrew the boundaries of each
Indian Tribe and the first land run was held.  By 1892, the issue of land ownership had become
such an issue that the Dawes Commission was founded.  The principle reason for the Commission 
was to determine land ownership, encourage the abandonment of Tribal organization and to 
organize a Territorial government.  Between 1893 and 1896 the Dawes Commission repeatedly 
made unsuccessful attempts to get the Indian people to give up their lands. When this failed, 
the Commission undertook the task of making a list of all Indians, to determine who was 
entitled to land allotments.  This listing is called the Dawes Rolls.

In 1894, The Curtis Act was passed which made it legal for whites to own land in Indian 
Territory, however, ownership was limited to land within the boundary of an established 
township. This Act was passed by the House and sent to the Senate which sent it to a 
committee.  While in committee, a rider was attached to the bill which established a 
government in the Indian Territory.  It also advocated the dissolution of the Indian 
Territory, provided funds for the Dawes Commission and survey of the lands.  

When people heard there was to be an allotment of Indian lands they flocked to the borders of
the Indian Territory.  Many people attempted to gain an advantage by applying for entry on the
Indian rolls.  

In 1897 the Choctaw and Chickasaw Nations were again meeting with the Dawes Commission.  In 
April 1897, they signed an agreement which gave each citizen a "fair and equitable" share of 
land which would remain non-taxable for 21 years.  It was ratified in November of 1897.

Negotiations then began with the Seminole and Creek Nations.  The Seminoles approved a 
resolution which was ratified in July 1898.  

In 1902, meetings were held among the Indian people to determine their position on the 
formation of an independent Indian State.  In 1903 the leaders of the Five Civilized Tribes
met and adopted resolutions concerning the creation of a separate Indian state, with its own 
Constitution and Congressional delegates.  In 1905 an official call was made to establish
a separate Indian State with the result that committees were formed and the task of drafting
a constitution started.  On September 8, 1905, after months of work, the constitution was 
adopted.  

It advocated separation of the Oklahoma Territory and the Indian Territory and 
the formation of a separate Indian State. The new Indian state was to be called Sequoyah and 
was divided into 48 counties.  Fort Gibson was the choice for the first capital.  The 
Sequoyah Constitution was submitted to the people of the Indian Territory for a vote in 
October 1905, and passed by an overwhelming majority of both whites and Indians.  Following 
ratification, a committee was sent to Washington to present the proposed Constitution for the 
State of Sequoyah, to Congress.  Theodore Roosevelt and the Republican-led Congress opposed 
the idea of forming separate states:  stating "that Indian Territory and Oklahoma be admitted 
as one State."

In November 1907, Oklahoma became a State and land which was designated for the Seminole
people became Seminole County.
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Timeline:

1819:  Florida was ceded to the U.S. by the Spanish
1820:  Land of present day Oklahoma was divided as follows: 
	North:  Cherokee
	Center: Creek
	South:  Choctaw
1823:  First treaty was signed between Seminole Nation and U.S. which moved the Seminole
	into Florida's swamp lands.
1832:  Treaty of Payne's Landing was signed and the tribe agreed to be moved to the Indian
	Territory.
1833:  Treaty of Fort Gibson was signed between the Creek and Seminole, giving the Seminole
	a place to live within land allotted to the Creek Nation.
1835-1842: The Seminole Nation became divided between those who accepted the move to Indian
	Territory and those who did not.  
1854: The Creek began to favor the separation the Seminole were asking for.
1856: Seminole were given their own land, instead of residing on Creek land.
1859: The Seminole moved to their new territory and established its capital near Wanette, 
	in Pottawatomie County.
1879: Whites outnumbered Indians 2:1 in the Indian Territory, the majority of which were
	outlaws. 
1889: The Indian Appropriation Act resulted in reconstruction of the boundaries of Seminole 
	lands.
April 22, 1889:  The first land run in Oklahoma
1892:  The Dawes Commission was established and authorized to negotiate with The Five 
	Civilized Tribes in an effort to establish true land ownership. 
1893:  Dawes Commission was organized with three propositions, which angered the Tribes.
	1) allotment of lands
	2) Abandonment of Tribal Organizations
	3) Organization of Territorial government
1894: Passage of The Curtis Act legalized the presence of whites in the Indian Territory by
	making it possible for them to purchase land in established towns.
March 1, 1895: Congress passed an act dividing the Indian Territory into three judicial 
	districts.
May 1895:  The Commission again proposed the tribes relinquish their lands.  The Tribes 
	refused this proposal. The Commission then proposed that Congress extend the 
	Territorial government over the Five Tribes.
1896: The Commission was directed to complete a survey of the Indian Lands and to make a
	"roll" to determine who was entitled to land allotment.
July 1, 1898:  Congress ratified an agreement with the Seminole Nation regarding land
	allotments and jurisdiction of the U.S. government over land disputes.
1905: Congress declined to accept the proposal of the Five Civilized Tribes for their own
	State, named Sequoyah.
November 1907:  Oklahoma became a State.
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Linda Simpson