Dan Jones: Attacks on Indians persist through Oklahoma history

"The history of Oklahoma—a Choctaw word meaning “Red People”—has done everything it could to finish the job the U.S. started in destroying American Indian government, politics, jurisdictions and economics, while at the same time exploiting our culture.

What is now Oklahoma was originally divided into two parts: Indian and Oklahoma Territories. In the early 1900s there were two movements to create two new states, both Indian. Indian Territory was to become the State of Sequoyah; Oklahoma Territory, while less developed, was to be the state of Quanah. The Sequoyah Constitutional Convention of 1905 was led by the Five Civilized Tribes, whose efforts were blocked by Theodore Roosevelt for political reasons. He believed it would create another two Democratic states and tip the balance of power in Congress. On June 16, 1906, Roosevelt signed the Oklahoma Enabling Act, which ruled that the Indian and Oklahoma territories would be granted statehood only as a combined state. The following year the Five Tribes joined the Constitutional Convention and brought with them not only the experience, but the Sequoyah Constitution that is the basis for the constitution of the state of Oklahoma today. The tribes had already designed and constructed a great seal that became the seal of Oklahoma in its entirety.

You would think Oklahoma would be rich in American Indian politicians and cultural knowledge—but you would be wrong. Shortly after the establishment of Oklahoma the leadership went about a task of systematically removing American Indians in state government."

Get the Story:
Dan Jones: Oklahoma Skins: ‘Red People’ (Indian Country Today 6/12)

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