→The Emergence of Oklahoma
==The Emergence of Oklahoma==
Oklahoma was part of the Louisiana Purchase of 1803 that greatly expanded the area of the United States (Figure 1). 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.<ref>For more on Andrew Jackson's Indian Removal Act, see: Stewart, Mark. <i>The Indian Removal Act: Forced Relocation</i>. Snapshots in History. Minneapolis, Minn: Compass Point Books, 2007.
While the United States recognized the region around Oklahoma as Indian Territory or Indian Country, 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 the northern regions became settled. Originally, Indian Country was a place envisioned to be the home of indigenous populations, a place to separate the Native Americans from settlers. However, the value and interest in land to the north reduced the area for Native Americans.
Some of the early tribes that were moved were composed of Cherokee, Creek, Seminole, Chickasaw, and Choctaw, who became the so-called Five Civilized Tribes. 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. The removal and relocation of what were called the Five Civilized Tribes, who mainly practiced agriculture, led to a new economy in the territory of Oklahoma, that included cotton plantations. This, along with the fact that many tribes also owned black slaves, increasingly led these tribes to have greater connections to southern states and that led many of the tribes to side with the South in the Civil War. For a time before the Civil War, the region was prosperous. However, there was no clear agreement on which side to join in the Civil War among the tribes and there were divisions. Most of the tribes did side with the South. Eventually, after the war, the Union decided to divide Indian Territory, losing much of the territory as punishment for joining the South.<ref>For more on Native Americans in Oklahoma until the Civil War, see: Clampitt, Bradley R., ed. <i>The Civil War and Reconstruction in Indian Territory</i>. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2015.