Some Indian Events of 1866

Following the Civil War, the American government renewed its efforts to expand into the West, which required more dealings with Indian nations. Briefly described below are some of the events of 1866.

Federal Government Actions

Congress granted the Atlantic & Pacific Railroad a right-of-way across the west which included the odd sections of land forty miles outward from the right-of-way. In his book I Am The Grand Canyon: The Story of the Havasupai People, Stephen Hirst reports:

“Much of the railroad lay squarely through Indian territory in Oklahoma, New Mexico, and Arizona. Where settlers already owned lands within the forty-mile limit, the railroad company received lands lying beyond the forty-mile limit.”

In The Kansas Indians the Supreme Court struck down a state property tax on tribal lands. According to the Court, state tax laws do not affect tribal trust lands until Congress so provides or until there is a voluntary abandonment of tribal organization. State governments, however, were eager to tax tribal lands even though they provided no services to Indians.

In Nevada, the U.S. military asked Sarah Winnemucca and her brother Naches to come to Fort McDermitt, Nevada to discuss the relationships between the Paiute and the government. She was also asked to help persuade her father to bring his people to the Pyramid Lake Reservation. With her knowledge of both English and Paiute, she was hired by the army as their official interpreter to the Shoshone and Paiute.

The Seneca Nation sued the State of New York over the state’s attempts to tax the Seneca Nation. The federal courts held that a state has no authority to tax tribal lands.

A government report on the status of non-reservation Indians in California stated:

“The Indians other than those aforementioned reside in various section of the state, in small communities; in some localities their presence is obnoxious to the citizens; in others they are tolerated on account of the labor they perform for the whites; their condition is deplorable and pitiful in the extreme; they are demoralized both physically and morally.”

In Oregon, 33 Warm Springs men enlisted as Army scouts at Old Fort Dalles. Within a month, 70 more enlisted to fight with the army against the Shoshone and Paiute.


In Colorado, the United States held a treaty council with the Cheyenne. The Cheyenne leaders included Black Kettle and Medicine Arrows (the war chief of the Dog Soldiers society). The Cheyenne signed a treaty even though they protested the fact that it excludes them from the Smoky Hill country, a favorite hunting area.

Following the treaty council, Cheyenne peace chief Black Kettle told the Americans that the Cheyenne had changed their mind about their earlier treaty and they could not leave the Smoky Hill country. According to Gregory Michno, in an article in Wild West:

“Apparently the vocal warrior societies had finally convinced the peace chiefs that they meant business.”

The Americans wined and dined Black Kettle, promising him $14,000 worth of gifts if he would attend another treaty council.

In Colorado, the United States held a treaty council with the Sioux, Arapaho, and Cheyenne. With the aid of Black Kettle, the Indians were persuaded to sign the treaty.

In North Dakota, 23 Arikara leaders, including White Shield, signed the Treaty of Fort Berthold in which they agreed to maintain peaceful relations, abide by the laws of the United States, and allow the construction of roads and telegraph lines through their territory. In an addendum to the treaty, the Mandan and Hidatsa agreed to cede some lands for the construction of a stage line. The treaty, however, was not ratified by Congress.

In Kansas, the Absentee Shawnee negotiated another treaty with the United States. The Senate, however, once again failed to ratify the treaty.


In Montana, concerned about the non-Indian encroachment on Flathead lands in the Bitterroot Valley, the Indian agent held a council to discuss with them the possibility of removal to the Jocko Reservation. Chief Victor and about 100 Flathead attended the council. While no solutions were attained, the agent considered the council to be successful.

In Washington, the Shoalwater Bay Reservation was established for the Shoalwater Bay Tribe of Chinook and Chehalis by executive order. The reservation was given 335 acres on the coast of Southwestern Washington. The tribe was also referred to as the Georgetown Indians.

In Nebraska, the Indian agent for the Omaha accused chief Joseph La Flesche with producing discord among the tribe, leaving the reservation without permission, lending money at usurious rates, encouraging the tribal police to inflict unfair punishments, and refusing to allow people to deal with licensed traders. The agent called for him to be deposed as tribal chief and to be banished. La Flesche’s protector, the Presbyterian mission school superintendent, was then dismissed. La Flesche and his family hastily fled from the reservation.

A few months later, the Indian agent agreed to allow La Flesche to return to the reservation, but only if he agreed to be subordinate to the agent. In her book Betraying the Omaha Nation, 1790-1916, historian Judith Boughter reports:

“La Flesche did return home, but he never again held a seat on the tribal council and apparently was recognized as a leader only among his band of followers in the young men’s party.”

In Nebraska, the Omaha complained because they were now receiving part of their annuities in goods and they needed the cash.

In New Mexico, the Navajo) were allowed to leave the Bosque Redondo and return to their homeland. In 1862, the Navajo had been brutally rounded up and forced to walk to a reservation (concentration camp) at Bosque Redondo. Here, in an area of poor farm land, they were to be forced to farm in the American way. Navajo historian Jennifer Denetdale, in an article in the New Mexico Historical Review, writes:

“The years at the Bosque Redondo reservation were unremittingly brutal and harsh. Navajo captives endured freezing winters and unforgiving summer heat. They were forced to labor for the benefit of the soldiers and live in pits in the ground. Starvation, disease, and sexual violence were epidemic.”

The experiment at the Bosque Redondo had failed to transform the Navajo into Americans and had cost the federal government millions of dollars. The primary reason for allowing them to return home was that Congress was no longer willing to pay for their upkeep. Much of the money which had been allocated to the Bosque Redondo had gone to private contractors who charged inflated prices for poor quality goods.

The Navajo began their return march with 1,550 horses out of the 60,000 horses which they had owned before their defeat, and with 950 sheep out of the 250,000 sheep which they had before the Long Walk.

In Washington, a government official estimated that five-eighths of the diet of the Colville came from salmon. Most of the salmon were caught at Kettle Falls.

In Oklahoma, Lone Wolf assumed leadership of the Kiowa following the death of Dohausan who had been chief since 1833. The Kiowa, however, were divided into two factions: Kicking Bird and Stumbling Bear felt that the Kiowa must remain at peace with the Americans, while Santanta, Lone Wolf, and Satank would prefer to fight for their lands.

A government physician was sent among the Kiowa to vaccinate them against smallpox.

In North Carolina, smallpox killed 125 Cherokee.

State and Territorial Actions

In Maine, the state ruled that elections for the Penobscot governor and lieutenant governor were to be held every year. Furthermore, the state ruled that the candidates must come from one “party” (actually an old traditional moiety) one year and from the other the next.

In recognition of the Confederate service by the Cherokee, the North Carolina General Assembly passed an act that provides:

“That the Cherokee Indians who are now residents of the State of North Carolina, shall have the authority and permission to remain in the several counties of the state where they now reside.”

The Washington Territorial Legislature prohibited marriage between “Whites” and Indians or people who are half Indian. It grouped these marriages with polygamy and incest and did not allow for common-law marriages. According to historian Brad Asher, in his book Beyond the Reservation: Indians, Settlers, and the Law in Washington Territory, 1853-1889:

“Such laws made race a central ordering principle of territorial society.”

The Oregon State Legislature prohibited marriage between “Whites” and Indians or people who were half Indian.

Christian Missions

In Montana, the Jesuits moved their mission to the Blackfoot to a new site east of Bird Tail Rock. However, the Jesuit hierarchy then closed the new St. Peter’s Mission and ordered the missionaries to the St. Ignatius Mission on the Flathead Reservation.

In Montana, the Bitterroot Salish (also known as Flathead) had stayed in their homeland instead of moving to the Flathead reservation which had been established for the area tribes. While the first Jesuit mission in Montana had been established among the Salish in the Bitterroot Valley, the mission had been closed and the St. Ignatius Mission established on the reservation. The Jesuits were unable to persuade the Bitterroot Salish to move from the Bitterroot Valley and to relocate near the St. Ignatius mission. In 1866, Jesuits thus re-established the St. Mary’s mission in the Bitterroot Valley.

Indian Events of 1666

By 1666, it was evident to the Indian nations in the eastern portion of North America that European colonization (French and English) was not a passing fad, but was a force that was changing the Indian way of life as well as the natural landscape.


The French saw that their best opportunity for economic gain was to be found in the fur trade in which their Native American trading partners would retain their autonomy and provide them with furs. The French explorers quickly established trading relations with the Native nations. The French learned Indian languages, intermarried with them, and learned and adopted Indian ways. Even the French Christian missionaries learned the Indian languages.

In 1666, a massive force of regular French soldiers, local militia, and Christian Indians set out from French Canada (New France) to wage war against the Mohawk in New York. Four Catholic priests accompanied the force of 1,400 men. They destroyed and plundered several Mohawk villages, burning the food supplies. The Mohawk offered no resistance, but fled into the forests. While no Mohawk were directly killed by the invading force, the timing of the attack—in the fall—meant that they did not have time to replant their fields or gather enough food for the coming winter. According to Conrad Heidenreich in his chapter in North American Exploration:

“Although few Mohawks were killed, their villages and food supplies were totally destroyed and their lands claimed for France by right of conquest.”

The Mohawk made peace and asked that the French send them missionaries.

In New York, the Cayuga sent a delegation to Quebec to ask the French for missionaries.


Prior to the establishment of English colonies in North America, the only English experience with colonialization had been their invasion, conquest, and occupation of Ireland. The English therefore brought their Irish experience to America and treated Indians in a manner similar to the way in which they had treated the Irish. The English had no interest in Indian rights: Indian people were simply inconvenient occupants of land desired by the English.

The Susquehannock renewed their peace treaty with the Maryland colonies. Signing the treaty for the Susquehannock were Wastahunda, Harignera, and Gosweinquerackqua.

In Connecticut, the English magistrates, concerned about conflicting claims for hunting lands by the Podunk under Arramament and the Mohegan under Uncas, intervened to establish a boundary line between the two groups.

In Connecticut, colonial authorities formally set aside 3,000 acres of land at Mashantuket west of Long Pond for the Western Pequot under the leadership of Robin Cassacinamon.

Reservations were created for the Shinnecock, Poosepatuck, Montauk, and Unquachog on Long Island.

In Maryland, the Conoy signed a peace treaty with the English colonists.

In Massachusetts, John Eliot’s The Indian Grammar Begun was published. In this work, Eliot notes that there were two kinds of Indian nouns: those which indicate something which is living or animate and those which indicate that something is inanimate.


In Virginia, the Weyanoke abandoned their principal village of Warekeck because of constant attacks by the Nottoway and Tuscarora.

In Wisconsin, three Ottawa bands had now joined together in a common village.

In Wisconsin, the Mascouten, Kickapoo, Miami, and Illinois occupied a large village about 70 miles from present-day Green Bay.

The Sheepeater Indian War

It is not uncommon for Indian tribes to be named for the food they consume. One group of Bannocks and Shoshones living in the mountains between Idaho and Montana were called Sheepeaters because mountain sheep were the mainstay of their food supply. In 1879, the deaths of five Chinese miners were attributed to the Sheepeaters, even though the murders appeared to have been committed by a party of Americans disguised as Indians. This marked the beginning of a series of skirmishes known as Sheepeater War and has been called the last of Idaho’s Indian wars by some historians.

General O. O. Howard, popularly known as America’s Christian General for his efforts to suppress American Indian religions, was prompted to investigate these deaths. He had already been wanting to subdue what was said to be the last holdout of hostiles from the earlier Bannock War along the Middle Fork of the Salmon River. This gave him the excuse he needed.

In the first battle of the war, the army destroyed an Indian camp which had been abandoned about two hours earlier. Then, ignoring the findings of its scouts, the army followed a trail down the creek into a steep canyon. About two dozen Sheepeater warriors under the leadership of War Jack were waiting and the army unit was ambushed. Two soldiers were wounded. In a disorganized and hasty way, the soldiers retreated. The victorious Indians made no immediate effort to press their advantage by pursuing the fleeing troops.

The following morning, the Indians set fire to the base of the mountain and the winds carried the flames uphill toward the army camp. With shifting winds and carefully set backfires, the army escaped the flames and when darkness set in they were able to sneak past the Indians. The army lost 21 pack animals and all of their supplies to the Sheepeaters.

In the second battle of the war, Umatilla scouts led the army to a Sheepeater camp which had been hastily abandoned. There was an exchange of gunfire, but no casualties. The Sheepeaters lost a large cache of supplies, including goods which they had captured in their earlier battle with the army.

Jerry Keenan, in his book Encyclopedia of American Indian Wars, reports:

“As the campaign dragged on, area newspapers expressed outrage that the Indians had not been caught.”

Several army companies spent four months battling a band of 51 people, which included only 15 warriors who had only 8 firearms: 4 carbines, 2 muzzle-loading rifles, 1 breech-loading rifle, and 1 double-barreled shotgun. In the end, the band surrendered after being pursued by the Army’s Umatilla and Cayuse scouts.

The Army made little distinction between different Indian groups and the band which surrendered were Weiser Shoshones who claimed that they hadn’t been involved in killing either Chinese miners or American prospectors. As far as General Howard was concerned, however, he had the guilty party and the war was officially declared over. The Weisers were sent as prisoners to Fort Vancouver, Washington and then relocated to the Fort Hall Reservation in Idaho.

The Sioux in 1866

The designation “Sioux” is used to describe many different tribes who are divided into three linguistic divisions: Dakota, Nakota, and Lakota. While relative late-comers to the Northern Plains—they did not become horse-mounted Plains Indians until about 1775—by 1866 they had a reputation among non-Indians as one the of the fiercest and most war-like Plains Indians. Briefly described below are some of the Sioux events for 1866.

Sioux leader Red Cloud and others met with U.S. officials at Fort Laramie to discuss the Bozeman Trail. General Sherman provided the Indians with goodwill gifts of powder, lead, and food. According to historian Richard Dillon, in his book North American Indian Wars:

“The Government asked permission for emigrants to cross lands recently granted to the Sioux and Cheyenne, but the General also sought permission for three forts to be built on the Bozeman Trail connecting the Platte River with Montana’s mines.”

Red Cloud broke off the negotiations because the United States had brought in soldiers to use as a threat of force. In the months that followed, the Oglala and other Sioux tribes engaged in guerrilla war along the Bozeman Trail, making it dangerous to travel.

The army, under orders to protect the gold seekers, established Fort Reno, Fort Phil Kearny, and Fort C.F. Smith along the Bozeman Trail. The army was determined to make the Bozeman Trail a major thoroughfare to the Montana gold fields. The United States government was reeling under the immense financial strain of the Civil War and saw the Montana gold fields as one answer to the financial problems.

In one battle near Fort Phil Kearny in Wyoming, Captain William J. Fetterman and 80 soldiers were killed by Oglala and Cheyenne warriors. The Cheyenne were under the leadership of Little Horse, a contrary. Accompanying the Cheyenne were four Crow warriors, including one woman warrior. The soldiers in the fort prepared to blow it up if the Indians broke through their defenses and the message from the fort was “We are fighting a foe that is the devil.”

General William Tecumseh Sherman wroteto President Ulysses S. Grant:

“We must act with vindictive earnestness against the Sioux, even to their extermination, men, women and children. Nothing else will reach the root of this case.”

General Sherman used the term “Sioux” as a way of referring to all “hostile” Indians.

Montana Territorial Governor Thomas Meagher wrote:

“As for the Sioux, and their allies and accomplices, it is my clear and positive conviction that they will never be reduced to friendly and reliable relations with the whites but by the strong and crushing hand of the military power of the nation.”

In Montana, Green Clay Smith was appointed as Territorial Governor. In his first address to the Territorial Legislature he vowed to take a hard line policy against Indians he deemed as hostile. He stresses that “we will be just and fair to them, but they must respect our rights.” He also expresses particular dislike for the Sioux.

In Montana, Oglala Sioux leader Red Cloud visited the Crow, bringing them gifts of tobacco, horses, and ammunition. The Oglala asked the Crow to join them in their fight against the Americans. The Crow, who had long been Oglala enemies, declined to join them.

In Montana, an Indian camp on the Powder River grew to 1,000 lodges of Cheyenne, Arapaho, and Sioux (Oglala, Brule, Miniconjou, Sans Arc). A war party of 3,000 warriors was formed to attack the army station on the Platte River Bridge, near present-day Casper, Wyoming.

The warriors lured a small detachment of soldiers away from the station and then ambushed them. Farther upriver, another group of warriors attacked a small wagon train and killed all of the soldiers. Historian Anthony McGinnis, in his book Counting Coup and Cutting Horses: Intertribal Warfare on the Northern Plains 1738-1889, reports:

“In terms of Indian warfare, both of these brief limited engagements were worthwhile because individuals accomplished heroic deeds and achieved a great victory. The war party had attained sufficient glory for one day.”

The warriors returned home without attacking the army station.

In North Dakota, the army moved Fort Union downstream on the Missouri River and renamed it Fort Buford. Historian Robert Larson, in an article in Montana, the Magazine of Western History, writes:

“Although it could be argued that the fort was strictly a defensive military post guarding a possible route to the Montana gold fields, many northern Lakota felt its construction was not in harmony with the treaties drawn up at Fort Rice.”

The construction of Fort Buford at the confluence of the Missouri and Yellowstone Rivers in North Dakota provoked a series of attacks by the Hunkpapa Lakota Strong Heart Warrior Society under the leadership of Sitting Bull.

In North Dakota, a new military fort was established on the Missouri River twelve miles below Fort Berthold. The new fort, Fort Stevenson, was viewed by the Sioux as another provocation.

The Idaho Indian Conflicts of 1866

Idaho became a territory during the Civil War: in 1863 President Abraham Lincoln signed the legislation creating Idaho out of portions of Washington and Dakota Territory. Following the Civil War, in 1866, there were a number of conflicts between the aboriginal inhabitants of the territory and the invading Americans. Some of these conflicts are briefly described below.

The Bruneau band of Shoshone signed a treaty in which they gave up their land south of the Snake River in exchange for a promise that the fourteen-mile-long Bruneau Valley would be reserved for them. Forty-one Shoshone leaders, including Always Ready, signed the agreement. However, the treaty was not ratified by the United States.

Gold was discovered about 17 miles west of present-day Salmon. Soon several hundred miners invaded Shoshone country to establish mining claims.

A bounty was placed on Indians. The scalp from a man was worth $100; from a woman $50; and from a child $25. Historian Hank Corless, in his book The Weiser Indians: Shoshoni Peacemakers, reports:

“The hapless Boise and Burneau Shoshoni, now peaceful, were at the mercy of white volunteers and scalp-hunting expeditions who saw every Indian as a threat.”

American troops under the leadership of Captain J.H. Walker attacked a friendly Shoshone camp, killing 18 Indians including six women and children. In response, a letter to the Idaho Statesman said:

“We long to see this vile race exterminated. Every man who kills an Indian is a public benefactor.”

The conflict between the Indians and non-Indians in Idaho escalated. In one instance, an army detachment killed seven Indians. In another confrontation, the Indians surrounded a group of non-Indians who managed to escape. In the Goose Creek Mountains, four Indians who were accused of stealing grain were killed. The Indians captured 300 head of cattle and killed an American. Brigham Madsen, in his book The Northern Shoshoni, writes:

“It was a bloody year, and it left the peaceful Indians afraid to leave camp for their usual hunts and food-gathering activities.”

The Idaho Territorial Legislature chartered the Oneida Wagon Road Company to establish a toll road over the Montana Trail. All travelers over this road paid a toll. With regard to the Shoshone and Bannock, Brigham Madsen reports:

“The Indians received no compensation for the portion of the route which went through their lands.”

The Utah Indian Wars of 1866

While Mormon settlement of Utah began in 1847, American Indians had inhabited the region for thousands of years. The Mormon settlements displaced and disrupted the way of life for the Paiutes, Gosiutes, Shoshones, Utes, and Navajos. One hundred and fifty years ago, in 1866, there were a number of Indian wars or conflicts. Some of these are briefly described below.

Mormon leader Brigham Young spoke out against the killing of Indians. With regard to the settlers who killed Indians, he said:

“Take the man and try him by law and let him receive the penalty. The law will slay him.”

An American militia group discovered the bodies of two men presumed to have been killed by Indians. Near Pipe Spring, Arizona, the militia group went to a Paiute camp where they killed two men who were “trying to escape.” They brought the rest back to Utah, but lost their patience and killed five of the prisoners. In an article in the Utah Historical Quarterly, Albert Winkler writes:

“This was the first of a series of killings in an apparent attempt to eliminate thieves or to intimidate the Indians into leaving.”

Ute chief Sanpitch and several of his men were arrested near Nephi because of rumors that he had been involved in violence against the American settlers. Sanpitch was told to bring in Black Hawk and his band or be shot. Albert Winkler reports:

“The chief had insufficient power to bring in the warring Utes, so he and his fellow prisoners broke jail rather than await execution.”

The escapees were hunted down and killed.

Sixteen unarmed Paiutes, including women and children, were killed near Circleville. The Paiute had been captured by the Mormons and were killed one at a time. Most had their throats slit. Three or four small children were spared and were adopted by Mormon families. According to Albert Winkler:

“Despite pleas for an investigation, federal and territorial officials took no action.”

Winkler also writes:

“The reluctance or inability of territorial and federal officials to assure that the proper legal procedures were followed in white relations with the Indians helped to create a climate that allowed for continued misconduct.”

Ute warriors killed two settlers in Round Valley and captured some stock. They were pursued by the militia, but managed to escape. In retaliation for the raid, one of the settlers killed Pannikay, an elder who was a part of the Pahvant, a group considered to be peaceful. Pannnikay was unarmed when he was killed and although he was murdered in front of witnesses there was no legal action taken against his killer.

A war party of 50-65 Utes under the presumed leadership of Black Hawk attacked Salina. Albert Winkler reports:

“Without effective opposition, the renegades rounded up the livestock and hit any convenient target outside the community.”

A militia garrison was established at Thistle Valley. Albert Winkler reports:

“The garrison presents a threat to Indian movements in the area and was a promising target for attack.”

It was attacked by a small Ute war party of 25-30 warriors. The warriors captured the militia’s horse herd, which immobilized them. The battle lasted for about nine hours before aid from Mount Pleasant arrived. According to Winkler:

“The fight at Thistle Valley was another close call for the whites in which a desperate situation nearly turned into a disaster.”

A party of 21 Americans pursued a Ute party at night. When they found some stolen cattle near Marysvale, they decided to enter the town before continuing their pursuit. However, Ute warriors, foreseeing this action, had hidden in the bush along the road and ambushed them. Two of the Americans were killed.

The Utes rebelled against increasing Mormon control of their lands. In the area of Panguitch Lake, the Mormon settlers declared that the Paiute were involved with the rebellion. The Pauite bands near Panguitch Lake would not let the Mormon settlers fish in the lake, but they would sell fish to them. The Mormons attacked a Paiute camp and killed a leading medicine man. The Mormons then declared a Paiute Mormon convert as “chief” and peace was declared. Following the “war” the lake became a fishing resort for non-Indians.

Mormon leader Brigham Young’s Manuscript History reported about the Shoshones:

“President Young said the Lamanites are hostile, let us exercise faith about them and learn what the will of the Lord is. Let us send our Interpreters to them and make presents and tell [them] they must stop fighting. It is better to give them $5000 than have to fight and kill them for they are of the House of Israel.”

Oklahoma Indians in 1866

At the beginning of the Civil War in 1861, the United States withdrew its troops from Forts Cobb, Arbuckle, and Washita and, afraid that annuity payments might fall into the wrong hands, withheld the annuities which were owed to the tribes. The Confederacy moved into the vacuum left by the federal government and held treaty councils with the tribes. The Confederacy, of course, lost the war, and in 1866 the United States government set about to impose new treaties on the Indian nations of Indian Territory (now Oklahoma).

In Washington, D.C., the United States met with the Indian nations who had signed treaties with the confederacy: Seminole, Creek, Cherokee, Choctaw, and Chickasaw. In the new treaties, the Indians nations gave up more of their land, agreed to accept their slaves as tribal members, and agreed to provide land for other Indian nations. The treaties also stipulated that a general council of all of the tribes in the Indian Territory be established and that rights of way for railroads be granted.

Under the treaties, the United States agreed to reimburse Christian mission societies which had lost property during the war. In an article in the Chronicles of Oklahoma, Sue Hammond reports:

“In addition, mission organizations were granted the right to occupy and use as much as 160 acres of land for missionary and educational purposes.”


In Washington, D.C., there were two Cherokee delegations negotiating with the federal government: one was loyal to John Ross and the other to Stand Watie. The 1861 treaty with the Confederacy had divided the Cherokee into two groups: the Ridge or Treaty Party led by Stand Watie and Elias C. Boudinot, and the Ross or Non-Treaty Party led by John Ross.

In Washington, the Watie delegation was initially headed by Elias C. Boudinot. John Rollin Ridge, who had been living in California, suddenly appeared and attached himself to the Boudinot delegation. The United States government soon recognized John Rollin Ridge as the head of the Southern Cherokee group. In an article in the Chronicles of Oklahoma, Clyde Ellis reports:

“In concert with Boudinot he provided a formidable challenge to the Ross delegation and by mid-June the Southern delegation won a favorable treaty that was sent to Johnson and the senate for ratification.”

With regard to Ridge’s role in the delegation, Ellis writes:

“Just how Ridge emerged as the acknowledged leader of a group in which he had played no previous role is difficult to ascertain.”

President Johnson, however, decided that it would not look good to be dealing with former rebels and ordered a new treaty to be drawn up with John Ross.

Cherokee Principal Chief John Ross died in Washington, D.C. His body was temporarily interred next to his wife Mary at Wilmington, Delaware. Under the instructions of the Cherokee National Council, his remains were brought to Tahlequah, Oklahoma and laid to rest in the Ross cemetery.

Will Ross was named principal chief of the Cherokee to fill the unexpired term of his uncle, John Ross. John Ross had groomed him for this position and had paid for his education at Princeton. Journalist Stanley Hoig, in his book The Cherokees and Their Chiefs: In the Wake of Empire, describes Will Ross:

“A thin-faced man with flowing mustache and beard, the well-educated Ross dressed and spoke in the vogue of white political leaders of the day.”

With regard to the new treaty with the United States, Will Ross said:

“Whatever may be our opinion as to the justice and wisdom of some of the stipulations it imposes, we have full assurance that the delegation obtained the most favorable terms they could, and it is our duty to comply in good faith with all its provisions.”

However, Chief Ross indicates that there are three troublesome articles in the treaty:

  • Article 11 grants a right of way through Cherokee land for a railroad
  • Article 12 provides for an intertribal council to be organized by the United States
  • Article 13 which establishes U.S. courts in Indian Territory

In Oklahoma, the Cherokee adopted a series of bilingual textbooks in arithmetic, geography, and history. These books contained the text in English on one page and the text in Cherokee on the opposite page. According to historian William McLoughlin, in his chapter in Between Indian and White Worlds: The Cultural Broker:

“It was strongly opposed by the wealthier English-speaking parents who wanted nothing to do with the old language.”


The United States charged the Creek Nation with treason, ignoring the fact that the Upper Creek supported the Union during the Civil War. The federal government forced a Reconstruction Treaty upon the Creek in which they gave up the western half of their lands at 30 cents an acre. The Creek also were forced to free their slaves and to accept them as Creek citizens. The treaty also called for the Creek to give up rights of way for two railroads: one north-south and one east-west.

Much of the money paid to the Creek was to be allocated to the Loyal Creek in compensation for losses they had obtained during the Civil War. According to Jeffrey Burton, in his book Indian Territory and the United States, 1866-1906: Courts, Governments, and the Movement for Oklahoma Statehood:

“This was the same as making the Loyal Creeks pay compensation to themselves.”


       Prior to the Civil War, many prosperous Indian planters, like their non-Indian counterparts, owned African-American slaves. Following the Civil War, these slaves had to be set free. In response to the new treaty with the United States, the Choctaw and Chickasaw passed the Freedman Act. Devon Mihesuah, in an article in the Chronicles of Oklahoma, reports:

“In this legislation the tribes allowed their freed slaves all the rights and privileges of citizenship except in the case of annuity monies. Freedmen (men and women) who did not desire to become citizens and those who did not register under the Freedman Registration Act were considered to be intruders and therefore subject to forced removal from tribal lands.”


In Oklahoma, the Seminole ceded their entire reservation to the United States for $325,000 and then purchased 200,000 acres from the United States for $100,000. The land they purchased was Creek land which had been ceded to the United States and for which they paid approximately three times the amount which the Creek had been paid.

In Oklahoma, the Seminole tribal council selected John Chupco as principal chief and John Jumper as second chief.


The Commissioner of Indian Affairs approved a contract to move the Wichita and affiliated tribes from their temporary camps in Kansas to their homes in Oklahoma. The tribes had been loyal to the Union and had fled Oklahoma during the Civil War. When they heard that an ex-Confederate officer had been awarded the contract, they protested, but to no avail.


The Kansas Delaware sold their land and moved to Oklahoma. In his book Between Two Fires: American Indians in the Civil War, historian Laurence Hauptman writes:

“Once again, the cozy relationship between ‘government chiefs,’ Kansas politicians and traders, railroad officials – now the Union Pacific Eastern Division and the Missouri River Railroad – and Washington policymakers and bureaucrats sealed the deal.”

The government, on behalf of the railroad, paid the Delaware $2.50 per acre for their land.

The Delaware who signed the agreement—Principal Chief John Conner, Charles Journeycake, Isaac Journeycake, and Big John Sarcoxie—were Baptists who were associated with the missionary who had been appointed Indian agent. In an article in the Plains Anthropologist, Brice Obermeyer reports:

“Upon hearing of the agreement, the Delaware held a general council while still resident on their reservation in Kansas to discuss the terms for removal.”

Captain Sarcoxie and Captain Falleaf drafted petitions opposing removal. They also petitioned the federal government to preserve Delaware sovereignty.

The Cherokee offered them land at a low price ($1 per acre) and allowed them to become a part of the Cherokee nation with equal rights and protections. For the privilege of becoming Cherokee citizens, the Delaware paid the Cherokees nearly $122,000. The Delaware who became a part of the Cherokee were known as Registered Delaware.


In Oklahoma, the Munsee signed a compact with the Cherokee in which they paid $4,000 for the rights of Cherokee citizenship.

Coal Mine

In Oklahoma, coal was being mined under license from the Choctaw and Chickasaw governments. The mine owners were non-Indians who had married into the nations.


In Oklahoma, Cyrus Harris was elected as Governor of the Chickasaw Nation. Harris believed that the best hope for maintaining tribal independence was in the allotment of tribal lands. In the tribal election he defeated Daugherty Colbert, a Confederate sympathizer who had been governor since 1858.


In Oklahoma, Allen Wright was elected as Choctaw Principal Chief. In his book Indian Territory and the United States, 1866-1906: Courts, Governments, and the Movement for Oklahoma Statehood, Jeffrey Burton notes:

“Wright’s attitudes were typified by an insistent belief in the supremacy of tribal law over the unwritten code of an earlier tradition which many Choctaws had not abandoned.”