This is the story of the removal of the Cherokee Nation from its ancestral homeland in parts of North Carolina, Tennessee, Georgia, and Alabama to land set aside for American Indians in what is now the state of Oklahoma.
The original tribes of the area included the Apache, Arapaho, Caddo, Comanche, Kiowa, Osage and the Wichita tribes.
Visualize the diaspora. These maps visualize the forced diaspora of the 39 recognized tribes of Oklahoma across centuries.
Under the Indian Removal Act of 1830, the Cherokee, Chickasaw, Choctaw, Creek and Seminole nations – known as the Five Tribes – were forced from their ancestral homelands in the southeast and relocated to “Indian Territory,” as Oklahoma was then designated.
Some of the Indian Tribes of Oklahoma are:
Geronimo, Indian name Goyathlay (“One Who Yawns”), (born June 1829, No-Doyohn Canyon, Mex. —died Feb. 17, 1909, Fort Sill, Okla., U.S.), Bedonkohe Apache leader of the Chiricahua Apache, who led his people’s defense of their homeland against the military might of the United States.
Tribes in Oklahoma Before Removal By the early 1800s, the Osage, Pawnee, Kiowa, Comanche, Cheyenne, and Arapaho had also migrated into the region or visited to use resources. Some Delaware, Shawnee, Kickapoo, Chickasaw, and Choctaw regularly came to hunt Oklahoma’s abundant bison, beaver, deer, and bear.
This Date in Native History: On April 28, 1897, the Chickasaw and Choctaw, two of the Five Civilized Tribes, agreed to abolish tribal governments and communal ownership of land, opening the door to increased white settlement in Oklahoma’s Indian Territory.
Choctaw and Cherokee Native American tribes both inhabited the Southeastern part of the United States, but they are not the same tribe.
Today, the number of Tribal enrolled members is over 3,200 and Pawnees can be found in all areas of the United States as well as foreign countries within many walks of life. Pawnees take much pride in their ancestral heritage.
NINA TOTENBERG, BYLINE: As most Americans think of it, there’s no formal Indian reservation in Oklahoma today. And crimes committed on reservations must, under federal law, be prosecuted in federal, not state court.
Most Oklahomans identify with the Five Tribes, the Cheyenne, the Comanche, and other contemporary Native people of the state. Representing approximately 8 percent of Oklahoma’s population, they are frequently discussed in historic accounts of the settling of Indian Territory.
In 1866 the western half of Indian Territory was ceded to the United States, which opened part of it to white settlers in 1889. This portion became the Territory of Oklahoma in 1890 and eventually encompassed all the lands ceded in 1866.
About 200 years ago the Cherokee Indians were one tribe, or “Indian Nation” that lived in the southeast part of what is now the United States. During the 1830’s and 1840’s, the period covered by the Indian Removal Act, many Cherokees were moved west to a territory that is now the State of Oklahoma.
Lee Fleming, registrar for the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma, said Thursday the tribe has 102,000 members and is actually second to the Navajos. The Cherokees are the largest tribe in Oklahoma.