Indian Territory - Reductions of Area

Reductions of Area

White settlers continued to flood into Indian country. As the population increased, the homesteaders could petition Congress for creation of a territory. This would initiate an Organic Act which established a three-part territorial government. The governor and judiciary were appointed by the President of the United States, while the legislature was elected by citizens residing in the territory. One elected representative was allowed a seat in the U. S. House of Representatives. The Federal Government took responsibility for all territorial affairs. Later, the inhabitants of the territory could apply for admission as a full state. No such action was taken for the so-called Indian Territory, so that area was not treated as a legal territory.

The reduction of the land area of Indian Territory (or Indian Country, as defined in the Indian Intercourse Act of 1834), the successor of Missouri Territory began almost immediately after its creation with:

  • Wisconsin Territory formed in 1836 from lands east of the Mississippi and between the Mississippi and Missouri rivers. Wisconsin became a state in 1848
    • Iowa Territory (land between the Mississippi and Missouri Rivers) was split from Wisconsin Territory in 1838 and became a state in 1846.
      • Minnesota Territory was split from Iowa Territory in 1849 and became a state in 1858
  • Dakota Territory was organized in 1861 from the northern part of Indian Country and Minnesota Territory. The name refers to the Dakota branch of the Sioux tribes.
    • North Dakota and South Dakota became states in 1889.
    • Present day states of Montana and Wyoming were also part of the Dakota Territory

Indian Country was reduced to the approximate boundaries of the current state of Oklahoma by the Kansas–Nebraska Act of 1854, which created Kansas Territory and Nebraska Territory. The key boundaries of the territories were:

  • 40° N the current Kansas–Nebraska border
  • 37° N the current Kansas – Oklahoma (Indian Territory) border

Kansas became a state in 1861, and Nebraska became a state in 1867. In 1890 the Oklahoma Organic Act created Oklahoma Territory out of the western part of Indian Territory, in anticipation of admitting both Indian Territory and Oklahoma Territory as a single State of Oklahoma.

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