General Description of Indian Territory

Indian Territory is situated in the south-central part of the United States, between latitudes 33° 25' and 37° 00' and between longitudes 94° 25' and 98° 00'. It is bounded on the north by Kansas, on the east by Arkansas, on the south by Texas, and on the west by Oklahoma.

The north boundary is the thirty- seventh parallel; the east boundary, commencing on the south at Red River, in approximate longitude 94° 29', follows a meridian north to Arkansas River, and thence runs in a direct line to the southwest corner of Missouri, Thence it follows the west line of Missouri, which is a meridian through the mouth of Kansas River, north to the thirty-seventh parallel. The south boundary is the mid-channel of Red River. The west boundary commences in Red River at its intersection with the ninety-eighth meridian and follows this meridian north to Canadian River, thence southeastward along the mid-channel of Canadian River to a point in approximate longitude 96° 46', where the river intersects the middle line of range 5 east. The line then runs north along the range line to its intersection with the North Fork of Canadian River, which it follows eastward to its intersection with the range line between ranges 6 and 7 east; thence it follows the range line north to its intersection with the township line between townships 19 and 20 north, then east-ward along this township line to the ninety-sixth meridian, which it follows north to the thirty-seventh parallel. The area of the Territory is 31,400 square miles.

Indian Territory Gazetteer

The surface presents considerable variation of relief, ranging from rugged hills to level or rolling prairie. The northern part, including the western part of what is known as the Cherokee Nation, is almost a rolling prairie. The eastern part of this nation, however, lying north of Arkansas River and east of Neosho River, is hilly and broken, containing a part of the Ozark Plateau, which is deeply dissected with streams flowing in canyons.

The region between the Arkansas and the Canadian is mostly a rolling plain. South of the Canadian, in the part of the Territory known as the Choctaw and Chickasaw nations, much of the land is hilly and mountainous, being occupied by the Ozark Hills. These consist mainly of narrow winding ridges, with a general east-west trend, separated by narrow valleys. These hills extend into the Territory from western Arkansas and stretch nearly across it, fading out to the west-ward in the Chickasaw Nation. North of the Ozark Hill the country slopes to the Arkansas and the Canadian, and south of them to Red River.

The lowest part of the Territory, which is its southeast corner on Red River, is about 300 feet above sea level, while its greatest altitude is approximately 3,000 feet.

The principal rivers of the Territory are the Arkansas, the Canadian, and the Ked. The Arkansas crosses it in the northern part, flowing in a southeasterly direction. From the north it receives three large branches, the Verdigris, the Neosho, and the Illinois, and from the south the Canadian. Red River forms the southern boundary and receives in its course along the border the waters of Mud Creek, Washita and Blue rivers. Boggy Creek, and Kiamichi River. Little River joins Red River outside the Territory in Arkansas, and drains a considerable area in the southeastern part of the Territory.

About 62 per cent of the area of the Territory is wooded. The chief wooded areas, which lie in the east and the southeast, consist of the Ozark Plateau in eastern Cherokee Nation and the Ozark Hills, mostly in Choctaw Nation. Besides these areas, timber is found more or less scattered in all parts of the Territory. The timber is of great variety; the mountain forests in the eastern and southeastern parts contain considerable amounts of pine, mixed with hard woods; elsewhere the forests are everywhere composed of hard woods, comprising oaks, black walnut, ash, pecan, cottonwood, sycamore, elm, hackberry, maple, and many other species.

The climate of Indian Territory is that of the transition region between the forested lands of the Mississippi Valley and the Great Plains. It is that of the prairie region. The mean annual temperature of much the larger part of the Territory ranges between 60° and 65° F.; but in the northern part, including most of the Cherokee country, and in the mountains of the southeast, in the Choctaw Nation, the mean annual temperature is somewhat lower, ranging from 55° to 60°.

The distribution of mean annual rainfall follows meridians rather than parallels. The eastern part of the Territory is abundantly watered, receiving from 40 to 50 inches annually. The western part of the Territory is not so well watered, but still receives a sufficient amount for all agricultural requirements, the precipitation being from 30 to 40 inches annually.

Almost the entire area of Indian Territory is floored with Carboniferous rocks; only in the southern part of the Territory, along Red River, is any considerable area in other formations found. Here there is a belt of Cretaceous beds extending over from central Texas, over-lain in a small area in the southeast corner by Tertiary rocks.

The western part of the Chickasaw Nation, in the southwestern part of the Territory, contains an area of Juratrias rocks. In the eastern part of this nation is a small area of igneous rocks, whose eruption has brought to the surface Silurian beds, extending northwestward across the Carboniferous and Juratrias belts into Oklahoma. It is probably a continuation of the uplift which forms the Wichita Mountains in southeastern Oklahoma.

At various places in the Choctaw Nation coal has been discovered and is being mined in large quantities. The most important of these localities are just east of McAlester and in the vicinity of Coalgate. It is an excellent bituminous coat of Carboniferous age. In the year 1902 there were mined 2,518,452 tons.

The great body of the Territory is divided among five tribes, the Cherokee, whose reservation is in the northern part; the Creek, in the central part; the Seminole, just west of them; the Choctaw, in the southeast; and the Chickasaw, in the southwest. Besides these there are a number of small tribes who have reservations grouped in the northeast corner of the Territory. These are: Quapaw, Peoria, Modoc, Ottawa, Wyandot, and Shawnee. The Cherokee, Creek, Choctaw, and Chickasaw were removed from the South to this Territory about 1833. The Seminole, who came from Florida, were, after a costly war, removed to their present reservation in 1845. On these reservations the people have developed a considerable degree of civilization and have been long known as the Five Civilized Tribes. Each tribe has its own system of government, which is patterned in many ways after our State governments, with a governor, a legislature, and judiciary of their own. The lands were until recently held in common and occupation gave all the title that was needed. There was an abundance of good land for all and no occasion for the clashing of interests. This condition of things naturally aroused the cupidity of the white man, and many white men settled in the Terri-tory, marrying Indian wives and thereby acquiring tribal rights. By this means squaw-men had acquired much of the valuable coal lands, timber lands, and farm lands. Others followed in their wake. Some white men were suffered to remain in the Territory on condition of paying annual taxes to the tribal government, while a legion of others came and settled without permission, knowing that it would be impossible to oust them. These are known as intruders. In 1900 the census showed that the whites in Indian Territory outnumbered the Indians many times over, making a situation fraught with great peril for the Indians, for it was not to be supposed that the whites would long remain in such overwhelming numbers without title to the lands which they were occupying and subject to Indian laws. This situation bad been understood for some time, and the lands have been subdivided into townships and sections preparatory to allotting them to the Indians in severalty and the breaking up of the tribal governments. The allotment has been completed and it is probable that a Territorial form of government will be substituted in the near future for the Indian governments.

The total population of the Territory in 1900 was 393,060, of which not less than 302,680 were whites, 52,500 were Indians, and 36,853 were Negroes, either former slaves of the Indians or their descendants.

The following table shows the number of whites, Indians, and Negroes in each of the nations and reservations:

Population of Indian Territory by census of 1900

Tibe White Indian Negro
Cherokee Nation 66,951 25,639 9,162
Chickasaw Nation 124,306 5,872 9,066
Choctaw Nation 79,332 10,321 10,123
Creek Nation 25,187 7,963 7,520
Seminole 1,143 1,662 981
Modoc Reservation 90 44  
Ottawa Reservation 2,029 176  
Peoria Reservation 995 184  
Seneca Reservation 799 171  
Shawnee Reservation 239 58  
Wyandot Reservation 992 221  
Quapaw 611 189  


Ardmore ~ 5,681
Muscogee ~ 4,254
South McAlester ~ 3,470
Chickasha ~ 3,209
Durant ~ 2,969

During the four years since the census was completed a number of railroads have been built, and other towns of importance have doubt-less sprung up.

Of the total population the males formed 53.3 per cent and the females 46.7 per cent. The population was almost entirely of native origin, the persons born in the United States forming 98.8 per cent and the foreign born 1.2 per cent. The whites constituted 77.2 per cent of the total population, the Indians 13.4 per cent, and the Negroes 9.4 per cent.

The chief industries of Indian Territory are farming and cattle raising. The rainfall is ample and the soil rich, and nearly every crop produced within the limits of the United States can be raised in the Territory. The prairies of the Cherokee Nation have been in large part leased to cattlemen and enormous herds range over them.

In 1900 the number of farms in the Territory was 45,505. Of these 35,451 were occupied by white farmers, 5,957 by Indian farmers, and 4,097 by Negro farmers. Only 25.1 per cent of these farms were said to be owned by the occupants, by which was meant probably that they were occupied by Indians or squaw-men under communal rights; 19.5 percent were rented for a money rental, and 55,4 per cent were rented for a share in the products.

The total area included within the farms of the Territory was 7,269,081 acres, of which 3,062,193 acres were improved. Of the entire area of the Territory 15.4 per cent was under cultivation. The average size of the farms was 160 acres, considerably larger than the average in the United States.

The following table itemizes the value of farms:

Value of farm), etc., of Indian Territory in 1900

Land $39,188,250
Buildings 7,675,190
Implements and machines 3,838,480
Livestock 41,378,695'
Total value 92,080,615

The following table shows the products of Indian Territory in 1899:

Principal farm products of Indian Territory in 1899

Com bushels - 30,709,420
Wheat bushels - 2,203,780
Oats bushels - 4,423,810
Hay tons - 400,393
Cotton bales - 143,608

The following table shows the number of livestock:

Statistics of livestock of Indian Territory in 1900

Neat cattle - 1,499,364
Horses - 217,699
Mules - 66,858
Sheep - 17,005
Swine - 650,255
Value of animals sold in 1900 16,416,707

Railroad mileage in recent years has been greatly increased; in 1902 there were 1,800 miles within the Territory.

Manufactures are not extensive; the country is too young and too tittle developed for this branch of industry to have much importance. In 1900 manufacturing establishments with a product of over $500 each numbered only 789, and the capital employed in them was $2,624,265. There were 1,849 employees and the net product, after deducting the value of the raw material was $3,892,181. The chief industries were cotton ginning, with 187 gins; flour milling, with 61 mills, and lumber making, with 6 sawmills.

The entire Territory, with the exception of the small reservations in the northeast corner, has been surveyed and mapped on the scale of 1: 125,000 by the United States Geological Survey in connection with the subdivision of the lands, which was executed by that organization.

The names appearing on the right in the following gazetteer refer to the atlas sheets published separately by the United States Geological Survey.

Native American Resource Center | Indian Territory Gazetteer

Source: United States Geological Survey, by Henry Gannett, Oklahoma, Department of the Interior, United States Geological Survey, Charles D. Walcott. Director, Washington, Government Printing Office, 1905.


Copyright August 2011- 2024 AHGP. The American History and Genealogy Project.
Enjoy the work of our webmasters, provide a link, do not copy their work.