American Indians of Tulsa, Oklahoma

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Transcript American Indians of Tulsa, Oklahoma

American Indians


Tulsa, Oklahoma

Prepared for Leadership Tulsa By Hugh Foley, Ph.D.

Rogers State University

Early Eras

• 12,000 to 24,000 years ago, the paleo-Indians camped, hunted, and lived in the Tulsa area along the rivers.

• 12,000 to 1 A.D. Many examples of Clovis and Folsom cultures have been found in northeastern Oklahoma, to include the Tulsa area.

• Mississippian Period (800 – 1400) – Spiro Mounds




• Osage – followed the buffalo into this area in “ancient times” according to tribal elders.

• Caddo and Wichita, both descendants of the Spiro people, had villages and farms in the area.

• Quapaw, related to the Osage, known to area.

• Comanche, Kiowa, Plains-Apache ride in on hunting, flint collection, and war expeditions.

• Pawnee villages further up the Arkansas

Removal (1828 – 1836)

• Many tribes suffered tragedies at the hands of the U.S. Government under the


of President Andrew Jackson.

• Trail of Tears • Trail Where They Cried • The Long Walk • The Trail of Death

Muscogee and Cherokee Arrive

• Osages are not happy about the Cherokee being “given” Osage Territory by the U.S. Government.

• Osage Cherokee battles require the establishment of Ft. Gibson in 1824, then the furthest point west established by the U.S. Government.


• Southeastern Tribes are called civilized because of their embracement of European cultural, economic, social, and religious concepts.

• However, the incorporation of these concepts do not prevent the tribes from being removed.

• Who, then is uncivilized? Western tribes.

Hard Facts

• If government census records are correct, roughly 10,000 Muscogee people died on the removal.

• The U.S. Army forced 24,000 Muscogee to Indian Territory in 1836 and 1837.

• In 1857, the Bureau of Indian Affairs counted 14,888 Creeks in Oklahoma.

Council Oak

• Lucvpokv Tribal Town members arrive in 1836 on the Arkansas River.

• Establish a meeting place at present-day 18 th and Cheyenne Avenue, and deposited their ashes in communal fire pit.

Borders Established

• 1833 – A boundary line needed to be established to separate the Osage Nation, Cherokee Nation, and Muscogee (Creek) Nation.

• Currently, that line is approximately Edison Street, extended east from Tulsa to current Highway 69 at Choteau, then south to Fort Gibson

National Boundaries

• • The land north of the current Elwood Street is where the dividing line sits.,+ Tulsa,+OK,+USA&ie=UTF8&ll=36.158113, 96.00184&spn=0.007484,0.014591&z=16&om=1 • Cherokee Nation to the Northeast and Osage Nation to the Northwest.

Golden Age? 1836 - 1865

• Cherokee and Creeks re-build – Council houses – Court houses – Schools – Missions – Economic Development – Newspapers

Civil War

• Creeks and Cherokee leave their homes, farms, and towns • Return to find them destroyed • Since some factions of both tribes fight with the South, the U.S. government considers those treaty violations and reduces their land bases.

• Enter the carpetbaggers, railroad men, speculators


• 1882 – Land owned in common by Creeks • Like many other cities in early Indian Territory, Tulsa was a rail head, where equipment and supplies could be stationed for further railroad construction to merge the Frisco and M, K, and T (Katy) Railroads that would link Missouri and Kansas with Texas.

First Tulsa Townsite

• Creeks were more liberal about white settlement than Cherokees, sold license to railroads and other business people.

• One had to marry a Cherokee to do business in the Cherokee Nation.

• In 1882, the town site is established on land only inhabited by one Creek, Noah Partridge, who lived in a log cabin with his family.

Tulsa’s name

• Corruption of Tullahassee, old Creek Tribal Town.

• Tvlwv – “Dullwa” – Town • Vhvse – “uh – huh – see” – Old • Old Town • Tulsey Town

Stomp Dances and Ball Games

• Ceremonial activities of the Muscogee continued until at least 1890, and still continue today.

• Check out ball pole at Tulsa Creek Indian Community Center going south of town on Highway 75.

• Stomp Dance



Century: Part II

• After the Civil War, the government turns its guns to the west and the Plains Tribes.

• Ultimately, the enrollment and allotment process begins in 1890.

• Once enrollment has taken place, and land is allotted to individual tribal members, the rest is opened for settlement.

• Many tribal members, lose land to unscrupulous swindlers.

Prominent Creeks of Tulsa

• Perryman Family were a huge, extended mixed-blood family with large land holdings throughout the area that would become Tulsa.

• Hodge Brothers – Landholders, politicians.

• Thomas Gilcrease (1890 – 1962) – Oilman, art collector, established Gilcrease Museum.




• After allotment and statehood, tribal governments are abolished, tribal ceremonies are outlawed, and children are forced into boarding schools where they are prevented from speaking their tribal language.

• 1934 – Oklahoma Indian Welfare Act allows for incorporation of tribes.



Century Continued

• As an urban area, Tulsa draws many Native people to its employment opportunities in petroleum, aviation, and construction.

• As a result, some of the first intertribal powwows as we now know them occurred in Tulsa, starting with the Tulsa Powwow Club in the 1950s.

Unique Population

• Many Nixon-era programs (and action by AIM), such as Indian Self-Determination Act, and other legislation regarding housing, education, and economic development, help tribes and Native American individuals begin a steady comeback.

• As of 2000, more than 55,000 American Indian people live in the Tulsa metro area.


• Gaming – Cherokee, Osage, and Creeks • Untapped Tourism Opportunities • Economic opportunities and tax relief for businesses within tribal boundaries who employ tribal members.

• Cultural diversity and cultural opportunities that provide broad world view for citizens.

Just Look Around

• Tulsa Indian Art Festival • Tulsa Powwow • Intertribal Indian Club of Tulsa • Indian Health Care Resource Center • Gilcrease Museum • 207 foot, 11 story, statue “The American” could bring in millions of $ to Tulsa

Leadership Moment

• American Indian mascots should not exist because they – Stereotype all native people as one monolithic culture – Make light of important cultural lifeways – Encourage anti-Indian imagery

Great Resource for Tulsa History •

Tulsa’s Magic Roots

by Nina Lane Dunn. Oklahoma Book Publishing Company, 1979.