Indian Territory Prior to 1900 Part II

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The railroad facilities are adequate enough for a higher industrial development than that which now prevails in the Territory. In 1900 there were reported 1500 miles. The principal lines are the Missouri, Kansas and Texas; the Saint Louis and San Francisco; the Choctaw, Oklahoma and Gulf; the Santa Fe and the Rock Island.


The different nations assess tribal taxes upon non-citizens and those employing non-citizens. These taxes are collected with difficulty, as effort is made to avoid payment. The Indian Agent collected and disbursed $825,020 in 1900, of which amount $139,589 represented royalties upon mineral products.


In 1902 there 69 national banks, with loans amounting to $7,277,000; cash, etc., $548,000; capital, $2,779,000; and deposits, $5,896,000. The 20 private banks had in loans, $602,676; cash, $56,354; capital, $203,975; and deposits, $495,810.


Missionary work among the Indians of the Territory has always been very active. The Methodists and the Baptists are in the majority; Presbyterians, Roman Catholics, Disciples of Christ, Friends, and other denominations are represented.


Religious denominations, the National Government, and the tribal governments all maintain schools within the Territory. Nevertheless, the educational situation is not what it ought to be. The Territory has been rapidly filling up with a population of whites, who having no voice in the government, have been unable to secure public school advantages for their children. It was estimated (in 1900) that there were 50,000 white children of school age, three times that number of Indian children of that age who were thus deprived. A recent act of Congress enabling towns to incorporate, elect officers, and provide education for white children, will be a particular relief. For a time the Indians were allowed to manage their own educational affairs. This was so unwisely if not corruptly done that Congress provided in the Curtis Act (1898) that the National Government assume charge, and accordingly a superintendent of education has been placed in authority over the Five Nations (the Seminoles excepted).


The population of the Territory grew from 180,182 in 1890 to 392,060 in 1900, an increase of 117 per cent. This great increase was due to the inflow of whites from the States. The Indians in 1900 numbered 52,510; negroes, 36,870; and whites, 302,680.


The Indians of the Territory consist of the "Five Civilized Nations," and those of seven reservations. Ninety-seven percent of the population, including whites, is found in the four principal nations. The census of 1900 distributes the population as follows: Cherokee Nation, 101,754; Chickasaw Nation, 139,260; Choctaw Nation, 99,681; Creek Nation, 40,674; Seminole Nation,3786; Modoc Reservation, 140; Ottawa reservation, 2205; Peoria reservation, 227; Quapaw reservation, 154; Seneca reservation, 255; Shawnee reservation, 79; Wyandotte reservation, 288; not located by reservations, 861. The majority of the negroes enumerated in the census are ex-slaves of the Indians, or descendants of ex-slaves, and share with the Indians in the allotment of lands. A non-citizen marrying into a tribe is made a citizen, and also receives an allotment of land.


The "Five Civilized Nations" (the Cherokees, Creeks, Chickasaws, Choctaws, and Seminoles), who occupy almost the whole of the Territory, came thither under an agreement with the United States guaranteeing their tribal authority. They organized for themselves forms of government much like those of the States, having a Governor, Senate, and Legislature, elected by popular vote; a national court school system, and treasury. Under this independent, self-governing system the Five Nations have lived until recent years. The workings of the system were quite tolerable in the early period, but it is quite inadequate on account of the rapid changes in conditions now taking place. The white population of the Territory, who outnumber the Indians six to one, found themselves without a voice in the government, unable to secure such privileges as look toward their proper protection and development. Accordingly, various enactments have been passed by Congress within the past few years, all having for their ultimate purpose the extension of complete Federal jurisdiction over the Territory, the extinction of Indian governments, and the opening of the country to unrestricted white settlement in other words, their assimilation, political and legal, with the rest of the United States.

 However, the original guarantee of an autonomous form of government to the tribes and other complicating conditions exist to delay the process of transformation. The resisting Indian is sometimes conciliated, sometimes disregarded. In 1893 a commission to the "Five Civilized Nations" the Dawes Commission, was appointed to enter into negotiations with the Indians in the Territory for the allotment of their lands in severalty, or to procure a cession of their lands to the United States. The Commission had in 1901 finally secured from each of the five tribes tentative agreements, looking toward allotment and citizenship; but years are likely to elapse before the work of the Commission is ended, as the task of dividing 20,000,000 acres of land equitably among many thousands of legitimate claimants is enormous. An act of 1897 gave the United States courts jurisdiction within the Territory. The Curtis Act of 1898 had for its general purpose the transfers of the control of property rights from tribal authority to that of the United States. Accordingly it provided, among other things, for the enrollment of citizens, preparatory to the allotment of lands, for the regulation of town sites, and the incorporation of towns; and it gave the President a veto power over acts of the tribal governments. Differences of conditions have prevented a uniform application and enforcement of this policy. Some features are universally carried out, while others are temporarily suspended for certain tribes. An agreement with the Seminoles permits the continuance of the Seminole government in a limited way, and an agreement with the Choctaws and Chickasaws extended their governments, with certain modification, until March 4, 1906. Consult: Hinton, "The Indian Territory, Its Status, Development, and Future." in Review of Reviews, vol. xxiii. (New York, 1901).


Website: The History
Article Name: Indian Territory Prior to 1900 Part II
Researcher/Preparer/Transcriber Miriam Medina


BIBLIOGRAPHY: From my Collection of Books: The New International Encyclopedia; Dodd, Mead and Company-New York 1902 Total of 21 Volumes.
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