Indian or Western Territory
Indian or Western Territory.
The Indian Territory is a tract of country west of the settled
portions of the United States, Which has been set apart by the
general government, for the permanent residence of those Indian
tribes that have been removed, chiefly from the southwestern
states of the Union. Here they are to be secured in governments
of their own choice, subject to no other control from the United
States, than such as may be necessary to preserve peace on the
frontier, and between the several tribes. It is about 600 miles
long from s. to n. and from 300 to 600 miles in breadth, from e.
to w. It has the Platte River on the n., the states of Missouri
and Arkansas on the e., the Red river on the s., and a desert
country on the w. This country contains, within the habitable
district, an area of 120,000 square miles, or 76,800,000 acres.
The number of the different tribes now occupying this territory
is about 70,000, exclusive of the wild tribes of the prairies.
The country, for about 100 miles west of the eastern boundary,
is in general fertile, moderately elevated, and gently
undulating, but not hilly, except in the southeastern parts,
where it is traversed by several ranges of hilly and elevated
lands. The principal rivers are Red River, Canadian, Arkansas,
Neosho, Kansas, and Platte Rivers, with their tributaries. The
largest of these rivers rise in the Rocky Mountains, and flow e.
into the Missouri and the Mississippi. A considerable portion of
the country is prairie, but the margins of the streams are
generally covered with wood. Red river and the Arkansas are
navigable at certain seasons to within the Indian Territory by
steamboats, and the Kansas by boats. The climate of this region
is generally healthy, rather cold in the winter, in the northern
part, as it is exposed to an extensive sweep of the west winds,
over the vast plains, from the mountainous region; but in the
southern part, the winters are mild. All the productions of the
United States, of the same latitude, can be here raised; and the
grass on the prairies is particularly favorable to the raising
of cattle. The country contains coal, some lead and iron ore,
and many saline springs, from which a great amount of salt could
be manufactured. Although the Indians felt a reluctance to
removal, as it was natural they should regret leaving the
scenery of their childhood and the graves of their fathers, yet
it will be their own fault, if they do not better their
condition by their change of residence. To break up the
establishments of incipient civilization, and to commence anew,
was in itself a great evil; but removed from the demoralizing
influence of profligate white men, they are favorably situated
for carrying on the work which they had successfully begun.
The Chickasaws and Choctaws, who were kindred tribes on the e.
side of the Mississippi, dwell together in the same territory in
the w. Their country is bounded north by the Canadian and
Arkansas rivers, e. by the state of Arkansas, s. by the Red
River, and w. by the western territory of the United States.
Their country is about 200 miles long, and 150 broad. The
Choctaws are extensively engaged in agriculture, and have good
houses and well fenced fields. They raise large quantities of
Indian corn; and in the southern part, considerable cotton. They
have 7 cotton gins, and several grist and saw mills have been
erected on Red River and other streams; and they raise large
stocks of cattle, horses, sheep, and swine. They are governed by
a written constitution and laws. The nation is divided into 4
districts, each of which elects a chief every 4 years. The
general council, consisting of 40 members, meets on the first
Monday of October annually, and is chosen by the qualified
voters of each district. The council passes all laws, and the
chiefs have a veto power, which can be overruled by a vote of
the council, of two thirds. When the council assembles, a
speaker is chosen, and clerks are appointed to record the
proceedings, and the speaker is addressed, and the business
transacted with the customary forms of legislative proceedings.
The council generally continues in session about two weeks, and
the members are paid from the funds of the nation, 2 dollars a
day. They have a large and commodious council house. The nation
is divided into judicial districts, and a trial by jury and
appeal to the highest judicial tribunal are allowed. There is no
enforcement of the payment of debts; but this is left to their
honor, which is generally sufficient. The military department of
the nation is entrusted to a general, elected by the people,
with 32 captains in each district. Spinning and weaving are
carried on in many parts of the nation; blacksmiths are
furnished by the United States, by treaty stipulations, many of
the principals, and all the assistants, belonging to the nation.
The Choctaws may be regarded as among the most intelligent of
the Indian tribes; and it is their boast, that they never shed
the blood of an American in war, but have often entered the
military service of the United States. Such a tribe may well be
regarded as an important barrier on the western frontier.
The Chickasaws have settled promiscuously among the Choctaws;
and by an agreement between the tribes, the Chickasaws were to
have the privilege of forming a district within the Choctaw
nation, governed by the same laws, and now form the fourth
district, with a proportional representation in the national
council. They receive their annuity separately. The American
Board of Foreign Missions have 5 stations, 4 missionaries, and
10 assistants among the tribes; the Baptists have 1 station, the
Methodists 1 station, and the Presbyterians have 4 stations.
The Creeks inhabit a country bounded on the n. and e. by that of
the Cherokees; and s. by that of the Choctaws and Chickasaws,
from which it is separated by the Canadian River. Their country
is fertile, producing Indian com, beans, potatoes, rice, wheat,
pumpkins, melons, &c. Indian corn is their principal crop, and
they furnish large quantities to the garrison at Fort Gibson;
and as they are industrious, they have supplied themselves with
comfortable houses, productive gardens and orchards, and well
tilled fields. They generally associate in towns, and cultivate
their lands in common. The government of the United States has
furnished them with a stock of animals, according to treaty
stipulations, consisting of cattle and hogs, and they will be
able hereafter to supply themselves. Blacksmiths, wheelwrights,
and wagon makers, are furnished by treaty. Their country is not
so well watered or healthy as that of their neighbors, but is
equally productive. The western winds from the prairies are cold
in winter, and they sometimes suffer from drought in summer.
They have elected a principal chief, and are engaged in building
a council house, where representatives of the whole people will
meet annually to pass laws. The Baptists have 2 missionary
stations, the Board of Foreign Missions 1, and the Methodists 1,
among the Creeks.
The Seminoles are considered a constituent part of the Creek
nation, speaking the same language, and many of them are the
same people. They are by agreement located with the Creeks,
between the Arkansas and the Deep Fork of the Canadian river,
above the Cherokee settlement. They have made some improvements,
and raised some corn; but in general, are averse to labor. They
have a blacksmith, under treaty stipulations. They are so well
satisfied with their country, that they are anxious that their
brethren who remain in Florida, and have been maintaining a
hopeless contest with the United States, may be induced to join
them. The slaves that they have been permitted to bring into the
country have been an occasion of difficulty.
The country assigned to the Cherokees, is n. and e. of that
assigned to the Creeks. They have advanced further in
civilization than the other tribes. They have a fine
agricultural country, comfortable houses, and well cultivated
farms, producing in abundance the necessaries of life; and they
raise large stocks of cattle and many fine horses, for which
their extensive prairies enable them abundantly to provide. They
have but few mills, as their streams, at certain seasons, fail
Salt springs exist, and salt is extensively manufactured. The
Cherokees are governed by written laws: they select annually,
members to the general council, which meets on the first Monday
in October annually; they have two branches, consisting of an
upper and lower house. A speaker and clerk are elected, and the
usual forms in legislative bodies are observed. Courts are held
throughout the nation, which is laid out in judicial districts.
They have sheriffs, and other officers, and collect debts in the
customary way, reserving certain property, such as a bed, a work
horse, a cow, &c. from execution. They to a considerable extent,
manufacture their own clothing, dress in the English mode, and
speak the English language. They have blacksmiths, wheelwrights,
and wagon makers, furnished by the government, and a large sum
vested by the United States, from which they receive a handsome
annuity, the result of the sale of their lands E. of the
Mississippi, and applied to the advancement of their
improvement. The Board of Foreign Missions have 5 stations, 4
missionaries, and other assistants, making the whole number 24.
They have also a printing press. The United Brethern have also a
mission among them.
The Osages are an indigenous tribe, occupying a territory n. of
the Cherokees. The United States have labored, by supplying them
with agricultural implements, and stock animals, and erecting
mills, and supplying blacksmiths, to persuade them to a settled
life, and to industrious habits, which would secure in
abundance, in their fertile country, the comforts of life. But
they are averse to these things, and, in general, prefer their
wandering habits; and as the buffaloes arc retreating to the
west of their lands, they frequently kill the cattle of their
neighbors. A few of these, however, are of a different mind; and
their industry, and the comforts which it will secure, may
persuade their brethern to follow their example. The Osages are
among the least civilized of the Indians in the territory, and
are not inclined to education.
The Shawnees occupy the country between the Osage and Kansas
rivers, and are an industrious, frugal, and agricultural people,
and have good farms, producing in abundance, Indian corn, wheat,
oats, and a variety of culinary vegetables; and they raise
stocks of horses, cattle, and hogs. They have a blacksmith,
furnished by treaty stipulation, and a grist and saw mill. The
Senecas are mingled with them. The Methodists and Baptists have
missionary stations among them, and the latter have a printing
West of the Missouri, and n. of the Shawnees, are the Delawares.
They resemble the Shawnees, and have Methodist and Baptist
missions among them.
The Kansas are an indigenous tribe between the Shawnees and the
Delawares; and like the generality of those tribes, are indolent
The Pawnees, the Omaha, and the Ottoes, who inhabit the country
about the Platte River, are native tribes, who retain much of
their original habits, and are little advanced in civilization,
but are beginning to desire it. The Baptists and Methodists have
missionary stations among them.
Table of Contents
Source: A Complete Descriptive And
Statistical Gazetteer Of The United States Of America, By Daniel
Haskel, A. M and J. Calvin Smith, Published By Sherman & Smith,
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