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date: 05 August 2020


  • Roger D. Hardaway


Oklahoma's history is unique among the western states. The U.S. government first organized Oklahoma in the early nineteenth century as Indian Territory and populated it with Native Americans whose original homelands were east of the Mississippi River. Among those eastern Indians were the so-called Five Civilized Tribes—the Cherokee, Choctaw, Chickasaw, Creek, and Seminole—who were farmers and, in some cases, slaveholders. When the government forced the Five Tribes to move to Indian Territory in the 1830s and 1840s, their slaves went with them. Consequently Indian Territory had several thousand African American residents prior to the Civil War.

After the Thirteenth Amendment abolished slavery in 1865 African Americans in Oklahoma fared better under the nation s Reconstruction policies than did their counterparts in the rest of the slave kingdom Because of their residence in Indian Territory the U S government forced the Five Tribes to grant their former chattels membership on ...

A version of this article originally appeared in The Encyclopedia of African American History, 1896 to the Present.

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