Seminole Nation of Oklahoma - History - in Indian Territory

In Indian Territory

After removal, the Oklahoma and Florida Seminole developed independently, and had little contact for nearly 100 years.

Micanopy, who had been principal chief since 1825, led the Seminole struggle to gain an independent reservation, as they were first placed under the Creek in Indian Territory. He died in 1849, after separate lands had been promised by the US for 1855. His sister's sons, John Jumper (1849-1853) and Jim Jumper (1853-1866), succeeded him as principal chiefs before the US began to interfere with tribal government.

While the Seminole maintained political independence from the Creek, the two peoples became closer through the 19th and early 20th centuries, as they shared strong cultural traditions and began to intermarry. The Seminole reservation originally encompassed what is now Seminole County, a roughly 15-mile strip between the Canadian River and North Canadian River, a total of 360,000 acres (1,460 km2). The United States urged the Indians on reservations to adopt subsistence agriculture, but less than half the land was good for agriculture, and a third was not useful for stock raising or agriculture.

The Black Seminoles again developed towns near the Seminole as they had in the Florida frontier. Except for the struggle to protect their people against slave raiders from outside their communities, they enjoyed good relations with the Seminole.

After the American Civil War, in which many Seminole had allied with the Confederacy, they were forced to make some land cessions under a new treaty with the US government. These included allocating a portion of their reservation for the Seminole Freedmen following emancipation of slaves in Indian Territory in 1866. The treaty granted the Black Seminoles who chose to stay on the reservation full citizenship in the tribe.

As they had in Florida, the Seminole strongly discouraged intermarriage with whites or adoption of European-American ways. In 1900 they were still mostly full bloods. They generally had little intermarriage with the Seminole maroons, who were recognized as having their own distinct culture. As the Seminole had a matrilineal kinship system, they believed children belonged to their mother's people. Mixed-race children belonged to the mother's people, whichever race that was.

Following the Seminole Agreement of 1909, the Seminole lands were allotted to individual households registered on the Dawes Rolls, in a federal plan to encourage subsistence farming and assimilation. Numerous interests wanted to extinguish the communal tribal lands to gain admission of Oklahoma (including Indian Territory) as a state. In 1900 the Seminole Freedmen numbered about 1,000, nearly one-third of the total Seminole tribe in Oklahoma. The Dawes Commission established two separate registration rolls for Seminole Indians and Freedmen. They became United States citizens in a racially segregated state.

The Seminole Freedmen suffered extra legal discrimination and restrictions in the state. Some left for Canada or other states. The segregation of the larger society drove a wedge between the communities. The Freedmen quickly lost land through unscrupulous land sharks, as their land sales were not supervised by the Indian Bureau. The Seminole also lost land, sometimes through the actions of overseers who were supposed to help them.

Read more about this topic:  Seminole Nation Of Oklahoma, History

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