How did Oklahoma become a State
The state of Oklahoma is unique among US states in that it was intended to be, at least wide areas of it, a home for Native Americans who were moved there as the United States expanded and people moved into areas that once had Native Americans. However, over time, Oklahoma began to also emerge as a state with settlers who moved in from neighboring regions.
The Emergence of Oklahoma
Oklahoma was part of the Louisiana Purchase of 1803 that greatly expanded the area of the United States. The region was settled by a variety of Native American populations, including the Caddoans, Siouans, and Athapascans (mainly Plains Apache). The region was also raided and used as a hunting ground by Kiowa, Comanche, and Arapaho populations. This mostly continued through the 18th century and into the early 19th century. Things began to change by the 1830s when the growing United States focused on policies of forced Native American removals from the eastern United States. This was a policy started by the 1830 Indian Removal Act under Andrew Jackson's strong support for this act. Initially, since the time of George Washington, US government policy towards native populations had been attempts to gradually assimilate Native Americans through the teaching of English, conversion to Christianity, and adoption of European styles and dress. However, this also led to resistance and Andrew Jackson, as he became the 7th US president, began to see the need for a new policy focused on removal of indigenous groups.
While the United States recognized the region around Oklahoma as Indian Territory, in the 1830s Indian Territory was much larger than Oklahoma, with wide territories west of the Mississippi river designated as part of Indian Territory. However, that land gradually was reduced over time as settlers crossed the Mississippi. This was a place envisioned to be the home of indigenous populations, a place to separate the Native Americans from settlers. Some of the early tribes that were moved were composed of Cherokee, Creek, Seminole, Chickasaw, and Choctaw. The Alabama natives were also included over time. This policy continued into the Civil War era. Most of the tribes relocated were from southern states, as these states were the most vocal supporters of the Act that Jackson signed. There was opposition from northern states, but Jackson saw this as hypocritical given that Native Americans by then had been largely removed or integrated into life in the northern states. Perhaps the most well documented forced removal was the Cherokee Nation removal in 1838, triggered by the discovery of gold in Georgia, what became known as the Trail of Tears, but overall more than 60,000 total Native Americans were forcibly removed across the southern states.