Indian Tribes of Oklahoma: A Guide

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Oklahoma is home to nearly forty American Indian tribes, and includes the largest Native population of any state. As a result, many Americans think of the state as “Indian Country.” For more than half a century readers have turned to Muriel H. Wright’s A Guide to the Indian Tribes of Oklahoma as the authoritative source for information on the state’s Native peoples. Now Blue Clark, an enrolled member of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation, has rendered a completely new guide that ...

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Oklahoma is home to nearly forty American Indian tribes, and includes the largest Native population of any state. As a result, many Americans think of the state as “Indian Country.” For more than half a century readers have turned to Muriel H. Wright’s A Guide to the Indian Tribes of Oklahoma as the authoritative source for information on the state’s Native peoples. Now Blue Clark, an enrolled member of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation, has rendered a completely new guide that reflects the drastic transformation of Indian Country in recent years.

As a synthesis of current knowledge, this book places the state’s Indians in their contemporary context as no other book has done. Solidly grounded in scholarship and Native oral tradition, it provides general readers the unique story of each tribe, from the Alabama-Quassartes to the Yuchis. Each entry contains a complete statistical and narrative summary of the tribe, encompassing everything from origin tales and archaeological research to contemporary ceremonies and tribal businesses. The entries also include tribal websites and suggested readings, along with photographs depicting prominent tribal personages, visitor sites, and accomplishments.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"An invaluable, masterfully compiled reference on Oklahoma’s contemporary Indian tribes.”—Clara Sue Kidwell, author of The Choctaws in Oklahoma: From Tribe to Nation, 1855–1970
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780806140612
  • Publisher: University of Oklahoma Press
  • Publication date: 3/5/2013
  • Series: Civilization of the American Indian Series
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 432
  • Sales rank: 975,738
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Blue Clark holds the David Pendleton Chair in American Indian Studies and is Professor of History and Law at Oklahoma City University. An enrolled member of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation and an active supporter of American Indian cultural institutions, he is the author of Lone Wolf v. Hitchcock: Treaty Rights and Indian Law at the End of the Nineteenth Century.

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Read an Excerpt

Indian Tribes of Oklahoma

A Guide

By Blue Clark


Copyright © 2009 University of Oklahoma Press
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-0-8061-8463-0




The Alabamas and Quassartes are separate tribal groups. The word "Alabama" is derived from the Alabamas' designation for themselves, Albamo (meaning unknown). Choctaw speakers claim that "Alabama" or "Alibamu" came from the Choctaw alba ayamule, "I open or clear the thicket." It is found in the journals of Pierre Le Moyne, Sieur d'Iberville, describing his visit to Louisiana. Similarly, "Quassarte" is from the Koasatis' designation for themselves, Kowassati. It cannot be translated, although ati means "person" in Koasati.


The "Alabama-Quassarte Tribal Town" is connected culturally to the Muscogee (Creek) Nation, but the tribe is politically separate and free-standing. The tribe's offices are located in an old bank building on Broadway near Main Street in Wetumka in Hughes County. Wetumka is on State Highway 9 about twenty-five miles southwest of Henryetta.

The tribal governmental entity was established under the Oklahoma Indian Welfare Act (OIWA) on June 26, 1936. Members adopted a constitution and by-laws on May 24, 1939. The tribal website is


Revenue is generated from the Alabama-Quassartes' Redhawk Gaming Center in Wetumka and a tribally owned smoke shop.


The tribal town has a certified enrollment of 350 members. The Alabama-Quassartes are related to the 1,000 Alabama-Coushattas in east Texas, located near the town of Livingston about seventy-five miles northeast of Houston. They have a 4,594-acre reservation. The Alabama-Coushattas organized during the Indian New Deal, were terminated from their trust relationship in 1954, and regained federal recognition during the 1980s. Approximately 700 members of the Coushatta Tribe near Elton, Louisiana, also were organized under the IRA, were terminated in 1954, and were again recognized in 1973.

Linguistically the Alabama-Quassartes are part of the Muskoghean language stock. Linguistic evidence indicates that Alabama separated from Muskoghean proper about 2,000 years ago, from Choctaw about 1,400 years ago, and from Chickasaw around 1,100 years ago. The Alabama-Quassartes are closely related culturally to other Muskoghean-speaking peoples like the Creeks, Choctaws, and Chickasaws and share major cultural characteristics with other southeastern Indians.

There was such affinity between the Alabamas and the Choctaws that scholars like John Swanton speculated that the former originated from the latter. Certainly the Alabamas maintained marriage alliances with the eastern Choctaws. The Inholahta division of the Choctaws (the senior of the two major groups) ranked itself junior to the Alabamas, perhaps because the Choctaws considered the Alabamas of the Coosa-Tallapoosa forks, near the modern city of Montgomery, Alabama, to be the heirs of the old Moundville Mississippian chiefdom, according to scholar Patricia Galloway. Archeologists believe that the Dallas phase, centered in the eastern Tennessee River Valley, was ancestral to the Koasatis. Ceramic remains link early Dallas peoples to Etowah chiefdom pottery of northern Georgia dating to A.D. 1050. Lamar culture came to dominate the Dallas population after the mid-1400s. Perhaps the Dallas/Koasati chiefdom was incorporated into the Lamar/Coosa chiefdom of the upper Coosa River Valley. In the Late Dallas phase people believed to be ancestral Koasatis began to move southward to the Coosa River in the 1540s in the aftermath of the Hernando de Soto expedition then later moved to the Tallapoosa and Chattachoochee rivers. Koasati Muscogee peoples during the eighteenth century occupied the upper level of the old Kulumi site on the south bank of the Tallapoosa River. After the Alabamas departed with the French (1763), the Taskigi Koasatis settled the site near Fort Toulouse. Another Dallas-phase site is Toqua, which was the capital during the time of the Lamar culture in the eastern Tennessee Valley. Scientific investigation has revealed that the largest mound at Toqua is aligned with the winter solstice. Archeologists have found five levels of sociopolitical activity in the earthen record there, corresponding to development from farmstead to multimound capital. Most burials also shared an orientation to the winter solstice.

Interestingly, the so-called Spaghetti style of shell gorgets notable for the Dallas phase was also found at Big Eddy sites along the upper Alabama River in the area that would become the state of the same name. The linkage implies polities connected in some way, whether by alliance, marriage, or closely related languages. The French collectively referred to the peoples at the junction of the Coosa and the Tallapoosa rivers as Alibamaux (Alabamas). Ned Jenkins, an archeologist, believed that all those migrants from the Moundville Variant ceramic chiefdom were speakers of a language closely related to historic Alabama. He suggested that these people arrived about 100 years after the Soto expedition. The Koasatis spoke the Alabama language yet derived from the Dallas phase, while the Alabamas came from Moundville. They shared technology and a ceramic style (that is, vessel shapes and handle styles, according to Jenkins), implying a sustained interaction over a long period.

The Spaniards of the Soto expedition first encountered the Alabamas in northern Mississippi in 1540 and the Koasatis in their island town (Coste or Acoste) on the Tennessee River. To the Spanish ear, the Indians' designation for that river was Caskinampo, from the Koasati kaski, "warriors," and nampon, "to be so many," meaning "their warriors are many," according to scholar Charles Hudson. Spanish chroniclers for the Juan Pardo expedition described their visit twenty-five years later to Chiaha and Olamico, which was the same town. It may have derived its names from the Koasati word cayha, "tall," and perhaps from mico, "chief or head of town." The settlement that the Spaniards entered was on Zimmerman's Island in the French Broad River. The inference is that most of the residents of the town were Koasatis. Members of the Soto expedition also found Alabamas residing in the vicinity of what is now Starkville, Mississippi. As a result of later European-led changes and population shifts, the Alabamas were living on the river of the same name just below the meeting of the Coosa and Tallapoosa rivers during the following century, which was part of Upper Creek territory. Some also resided among the Lower Creeks.

European intrusion fragmented the Alabamas through warfare, disease, and political intrigue. After France relinquished the area to the English, some of the Alabamas emigrated to present-day Mississippi. Some of them moved nearer French trade sources. Other Alabamas joined the Creeks then fought in the Creek War of 1813--14. Wherever they resided, Alabama and Quassarte villagers relied on male hunting and female gardening and farming. They traced their membership through matrilineal clans. Women made baskets from river cane and pine needles as well as many other products. Among their descendants in Louisiana and Texas, contemporary basketry is tied to tourism.

Many of the Alabamas removed from the Southeast with the Creeks during the 1830s. Like their tribal companions from the trek, the Alabamas gradually established farms in their new homeland. An example of Alabama-Quassarte influence in Indian Territory is Ward Coachman, who served as principal chief of the Creek Nation during the 1880s. He was of mixed Creek and Alabama heritage.

During the 1930s the U.S. Congress enacted legislation permitting tribal groups to form governments and federally chartered corporations to engage in economic activities. The Alabamas and Quassartes merged and took steps toward recognition. They organized as a tribal town separate from the Creek Nation and maintained a traditional tribal town political structure. Alabama-Quassartes in Oklahoma rely upon the Mvskoke language today. Members have worked diligently over the past two decades to build an economic base upon which future members can continue to develop their organization. For the Alabama-Quassartes, religion is a private matter, not to be discussed in public; at the request of their civil leadership, the topic of ceremony is excluded here.


Apache (Plains Apache)


"Apache" means "enemy" or "not Athapaskan," from the Zuni word apachu. Apaches refer to themselves as Naishadena (or shortened to Na-I-Sha), "our People." They have been erroneously referred to in the past as Prairie Apaches and Kiowa-Apaches as a result of their historic close association with the Kiowas. They prefer to be called the Apache Tribe of Oklahoma.


The "Apache Tribe of Oklahoma" headquarters is located in Anadarko in Caddo County, in southwestern Oklahoma. Tribal members reside in and around Anadarko and Fort Cobb. There are many other Apachean groups through the American Southwest, however, as well as the Fort Sill Apaches of Geronimo, outside Lawton, Oklahoma. The Apache Tribe of Oklahoma is not organized under the OIWA. The tribe's constitution and by-laws (drafted by Houston Klinecole under the direction of tribal elders and approved by the BIA) were adopted in 1972 and amended in 1976 and 1987. The Tribal Council is made up of all tribal members over the age of eighteen, with a chair, a vice chair, and a secretary-treasurer as officers. The annual meeting takes place on the third Saturday in June. The tribe is governed by a business committee of five members that meets monthly. There is no tribal website yet.


The Apaches' major casino, the Silver Buffalo Casino, is across the road from the convenience store at their tribal complex. This was the first Indian casino to be fully compacted, meaning that the tribe and the state achieved a written agreement regarding the terms and division of income from the gaming operation. Two other casinos near the Texas boundary at the Red River are planned.


The tribe has about 1,800 members. Enrollment is based on a roll, with a requirement of one-eighth blood quantum and descent from an original allottee.

The Plains Apaches are related linguistically to seven other Southern Athapaskan–speaking peoples, including the Navajos, the Eastern Apaches (such as the Jicarillas), and the Western Apaches (such as the Chiricahuas). Common language ancestry implies a common background. Harry Hoijer, who studied Native American languages, believed that ancestral Apache peoples split from their larger linguistic family in the subarctic forests of the Mackenzie Basin of the Canadian Northwest Territory and gradually moved onto the Plains of Canada perhaps 2,000 years ago. They joined the Sarcees in Saskatchewan province. The Sarcees' language is similar, but the Apaches moved farther south about 1,200 years later. From their central Alaska homeland, their journey took them along the eastern cordillera of the Rocky Mountains, according to James Gunnerson and Waldo Wedel. Morris Opler, Julian Steward, and David Brugge argued for an intermontane route through the Great Basin. Anthropologist William Bittle contended that the Plains Apaches separated from the main group of Apacheans and separated from the Eastern Apaches (Jicarillas and Lipans) around A.D. 1500. Loring Haskell and John Harrington believed that the Plains Apaches departed from the Lipan Apaches as Fremont-Promontory and related peoples entered the northern Plains. Others like Hoijer and Michael Davis argued for a much earlier separation. The debate continues. Oral tradition from the Plains Apaches and from the Kiowas, reported by ethnologist James Mooney, stated that the Plains Apaches merged with the Kiowas in the region of the Black Hills. James and Delores Gunnerson dated the merger about 1700. The two groups became identified as one, with many referring to the Plains Apaches as the Kiowa-Apaches.

The suggested time frame for the entry of Apacheans onto the southern Plains and into the Southwest varies greatly. Dates usually range between A.D. 1300 and 1500. Names used on Spanish documents are notoriously inaccurate and confusing. Scholars believe that the earliest mention in 1541 of bison hunters on foot west of the Pecos River, whom the Spaniards in Coronado's expedition called "Querechos," referred to Apacheans, but they cannot be specific as to tribe. The correspondence of René-Robert Cavelier, Sieur de La Salle, mentioned "Gattacka" camped south of the Platte River with the "Manrhoet," believed to be the Kiowas. They were trading horses with the Pawnees at the time (the early 1680s).

The Plains Apache origin story shared with other Apacheans the exploits of twin culture heroes Fireboy and Waterboy. The twins destroyed monsters and brought order to the universe. A hand game at the beginning between good and evil determined whether eternal darkness or light would prevail. The Plains Apaches shared with the Kiowas stories about the antics of Coyote that instructed listeners in morality and self-worth. All Apacheans shared a fear of contamination by the spirits of the dead and belief in the vital need for a quick burial and cleansing of the after-effects.

Plains Apaches resided in small family-based camps. Men hunted, while women tended to their camps and gardens. The eldest man served as leader of their extended family or band. Individuals sought spiritual power through a vision quest. It could also be obtained through inheritance from a close relative. Personal medicine bundles, songs, herbs, and shield designs were usually passed on to a close male relative. Bundle keepers tended to be headmen of bands, and individuals addressed sacred bundles as "my grandfather." In the nineteenth century Plains Apaches participated in Kiowa and Cheyenne/Arapaho Sun Dances but did not hold their own. Plains Apache dancing societies involved all prominent adults. Children belonged to the Kasowe or Rabbit Society and learned heritage and traditions in their youth. Leading adult males belonged to the Manitide. The society's dances involved venerated staffs, ceremonies, songs, and lifetime appointments to leadership positions. The Tlinitide or Kintide or Horse Society included the oldest and bravest warriors. It was called the Contraries Society because of members' backward motions and behavior as well as shocking antics. The eldest women joined the secret Izuwe Society, with membership inherited through the female line. If the women prayed for a warrior, he erected a tepee for them upon his return. Ceremonial singing and dancing, as well as use of the sacred Pipe, took place inside the tepee. The women also participated in the Scalp Dance upon the return of a war party.

The Spanish horse transformed the bison hunters into nomads who ventured onto the southern Plains. They took on the characteristics of buffalo nomads, including use of the horse, dependence upon the bison, warrior societies, and medicine bundles. Oddly, the Plains Apaches did not have a girl's puberty ceremony as a major annual event, unlike other Apacheans, including the Navajos. The Kiowas and Plains Apaches allied with the larger Comanche Nation, commonly referred by the acronym "KCA," either just before or just after 1800 to achieve a formidable presence on the southern Plains that served as an integral part of the economy of the region. The KCA used Spanish livestock and trade during this period to maximum advantage to enter into what many consider their golden age. Raids obtained Spanish horses and mules and trade secured other items that increased their value as brokers in Texan, Mexican, and later American commercial activity. The five hundred or so Plains Apaches shifted affiliation to their advantage as circumstances dictated. Of course, the Plains Apaches shared affinity with other Athapaskan-speakers. Historically, the Apaches took in some Lipan and Mescalero kinfolk during perilous times on the frontier. Refugees from attacks, those fleeing destroyed missions like San Sabá, offspring from Spanish soldierly liaisons at presidios, and others sometimes found temporary safe haven among Apache bands.

Walking Bear, One Who Is Surrendered, and Iron Show signed the first treaty of Fort Gibson in 1837 for the Plains Apaches. Intense pressure from the Cheyennes and the Arapahos then led to conflict over hunting ranges until the Great Peace of 1840. Alliances shifted within the region, but the Indians maintained their own peace in the face of the larger threat facing them.

Pioneer pressure increased, game diminished, and smallpox (1839, 1862) and cholera (1849) ravaged tribal families. Eastern tribal intrusion brought enemies closer. Pawnees combined with their allies to inflict a series of defeats on the KCA in the mid-1850s. The Plains Apaches signed the Treaty of Fort Atkinson (1853) in Kansas, led by Poor Wolf, Poor Bear, Prairie Wolf, and The Cigar. The tribe briefly allied with the Arapahos through their 1862 treaty with the United States and added the Cheyennes to their affiliation in the October 1865 Treaty of the Little Arkansas, which Congress did not ratify. The Plains Apaches rejoined the Kiowas and Comanches in the treaty signed at the large council of tribes held at Medicine Lodge in southern Kansas in October 1867. Six years later Pacer, Daho, and Gray Eagle accompanied Captain Henry Alvord and Kiowas and other Indians as part of a delegation to the national capital. Upon his return, Pacer requested the establishment of a school, which was set up by the Quaker teacher A. J. Standing.


Excerpted from Indian Tribes of Oklahoma by Blue Clark. Copyright © 2009 University of Oklahoma Press. Excerpted by permission of UNIVERSITY OF OKLAHOMA PRESS.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Table of Contents


Apache (Plains Apache),
Delaware Nation (Western Delaware),
Delaware Tribe of Indians (Eastern Delaware),
Fort Sill Apache,
Muscogee (Creek),
Nez Perce,
Citizen Potawatomi,
Sac and Fox,
Absentee Shawnee,
Eastern Shawnee,
Shawnee Tribe (Loyal Shawnee),
United Keetoowah Band of Cherokee Indians,

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 21, 2013

    Midnight Sulfur

    *stands with scythe behind back* join us...........we are no hsrm...wanna be one of us? Go to the result for Robert Downey Jr...leader is Sapphire Xenon.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 5, 2013

    Nameless cat to Leafstar

    My name is Reese

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 28, 2013


    *Stands in tree with emerald knife* i would like to join

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 28, 2013


    Me:loveible loving caring nice just dont push my button
    New to the clan
    Crush: none

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 26, 2013

    Whitestar and Darkpaw

    •Whitestar•18 moons•&female•black with white paws•Leader•kind, forgiving, aggressive when mad, cranky when tired•Leafwhisker(dead)•no kin•Lionpaw, Darkpaw, and Snowpaw•History is too long•America by Deuce•&starf &star Whitestar &star &starf <p>
    *Darkpaw*8 moons*&male*all black*apprentise*kind, friendly, easily upset, takes after his mother*no mate/crush*Whitestar(mom), Leafwhisker(dad), Lionpaw(bro) and Snowpaw(sis)*I am an apprentise*who cares about my history*True Love by Pink!*&Delta Darkpaw &delta

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