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As generic terms, Indian Territory, The Indian Territories, or Indian Country are used to describe an evolving land area set aside by the United States Government for the relocation of the Indigenous peoples of the Americas who held Aboriginal title to their land. In general, the tribes ceded land they occupied in exchange for Land Grants in an area purchased by the US Federal Government from Napoleon, the Louisiana Purchase. The concept of an Indian Territory was an outcome of the 18th and 19th century policy of Indian removal. After the United States Civil War the policy of the government was one of assimilation. By 1907, when Oklahoma was admitted as a state, Indian Territory ceased to exist.
The term Indian Reserve is used to describe lands the British government set aside for Indigenous tribes between the Appalachian Mountains and the Mississippi River in the time before the Revolutionary War.
More specifically, Indian Territory was an Unorganized territory whose general borders were initially set by the Indian Intercourse Act of 1834, and was the successor to Missouri Territory after Missouri received statehood. The borders of Indian Territory were systematically reduced in size as various Organic Acts were passed by the US Congress creating an Incorporated territory or Territory of the United States that would eventually be admitted to the union as a State of the United States.
Several tribes, (Seneca, Osage and Pottawatomi, etc.) were relocated more than once as Indian Territory shrank in size. As tribes were relocated, some received land grants in exchange for their former lands, and others (such as Osage, Seminole, and Chickasaw) ultimately purchased their land, usually receiving Fee simple title to the land.
The Oklahoma Enabling Act specified that Oklahoma Territory and Indian Territory would be admitted as a single state of Oklahoma, which occurred in 1907. At that time, Indian Territory ceased to exist.
The concept of an Indian territory is the successor to the British Indian Reserve, a British North American territory established by the Royal Proclamation of 1763 that set aside land for use by American Indians. The Proclamation limited the settlement of Caucasians to Crown-claimed lands located east of the Appalachian Mountains. The territory remained active until the Treaty of Paris (1783) that ended the Revolutionary War, and land was ceded to the United States. The land area of the Indian Reserve was reduced under British administration -- and, reduced further again after the American Revolutionary War -- until it included only lands west of the Mississippi River.
At the time of the American Revolution, many Native American tribes had long-standing relationships with British who were loyal to the British Empire (e.g., traders, etc.); but, they has a less-developed relationship with the Empire's colonists-turned-rebels. After the defeat of the British, the Americans twice invaded the Ohio Country; but, were twice defeated. They finally defeated an Indian confederacy at the Battle of Fallen Timbers in 1794, imposing the Treaty of Greenville, which ceded most of what is now Ohio, part of present-day Indiana, and the lands that include present-day Chicago and Detroit, to the United States federal government.
The period after the American Revolutionary War was one of rapid western expansion. The areas occupied by American Indians in the United States were typically called Indian country, which was not even an Unorganized territory, as the areas were typically established by treaty.
President Thomas Jefferson doubted the legality of the purchase. However the chief negotiator, Robert R. Livingston believed that the 3rd article of the treaty providing for the Louisiana Purchase would be acceptable to congress. The 3rd article stated, in part:
Which committed the US government to “the ultimate, but not to the immediate, admission” of the territory as multiple states, and “postponed its incorporation into the Union to the pleasure of Congress”
After the Louisiana Purchase in 1803, President Thomas Jefferson and his successors viewed much of the land west of the Mississippi River as a place to resettle the native Americans, so that white settlers would be free to live in the lands east of the river. Indian removal became the official policy of the United States government with the passage of the 1830 Indian Removal Act, formulated by President Andrew Jackson.
When Louisiana became a state in 1812, the remaining territory was renamed Missouri Territory to avoid confusion. Arkansas Territory, which included the present State of Arkansas plus most of the state of Oklahoma, was created out of the southern part of Missouri Territory in 1819. Originally the western border of Missouri was intended to go due south to the Red River. However, during negotiations with the Choctaw in 1820, Andrew Jackson ceded more of Arkansas Territory to the Choctaw than he realized, resulting in a bend in the border between Arkansas and Oklahoma at Ft. Smith, Arkansas. The General Survey Act of 1824, allowed a survey that established the western border of Arkansas Territory well inside the present state of Oklahoma, where the Choctaw and Cherokee tribes had previously begun to settle. The two nations objected strongly, and in 1828 a new survey redefined the western Arkansas border. Thus, the "Indian zone" would cover the present states of Oklahoma, Kansas, Nebraska and part of Iowa. 
Indian Territory, also known as the Indian Territories and the Indian Country, was land within the United States of America that was reserved for the forced re-settlement of Native Americans. The general borders were set by the Indian Intercourse Act of 1834.
While Congress passed several Organic Acts that provided a path for statehood for much of the original Indian Country, Congress never passed an Organic Act for the Indian Territory. Indian Territory was never an Organized incorporated territories of the United States. In general, tribes could not sell land to non-Indians (Johnson v. M'Intosh). Treaties with the tribes severely restricted entry of non-Indians into tribal areas; Indian tribes were largely self-governing, were suzerain nations, with established tribal governments and well established cultures. The region never had a formal government until after the American Civil War. Therefore, the geographical location commonly called "Indian Territory" was not a traditional territory.
After the Civil War the Southern Treaty Commission re-wrote treaties with tribes that sided with the Confederacy, reducing the territory of the Five Civilized Tribes and providing land to resettle Plains Indians and tribes of the mid-west. These re-written treaties included provisions for a Territorial Legislature (which could only meet 30 days per year) with proportional representation from various tribes.
The Oklahoma organic act of 1890 created an organized incorporated territory of the United States of Oklahoma Territory, with the intent of combining the Oklahoma and Indian territories into a single State of Oklahoma. The residents of Indian Territory proposed to Congress that Indian Territory be admitted to the Union as the State of Sequoyah. However, Congress rejected the idea and Oklahoma became a state in 1907.
Before the 1871 Indian Appropriations Act    much of what was called Indian Territory was a large area in the central part of the United States whose boundaries were set by a number of treaties between the US Government and various indigenous tribes. After 1871, the Federal Government dealt with Indian Tribes through statute; the 1871 Indian Appropriations Act also stated that. “[n]o Indian nation or tribe within the territory of the United States shall be acknowledged or recognized as an independent nation . . .”. 
The Indian Appropriations Act also made it a federal crime to commit murder, manslaughter, rape, assault with intent to kill, arson, burglary, and larceny within any Territory of the United States. The action was affirmed in 1886 the Supreme Court, in United States v. Kagama, which affirmed that the US Government has Plenary power over all Native American tribes within its boarders using the rationalization that “The power of the general government over these remnants of a race once powerful… is necessary to their protection as well as to the safety of those among whom they dwell” While the Government of the United States had previously recognized the Indian Tribes as semi-independent, “it has the right and authority, instead of controlling them by treaties, to govern them by acts of Congress, they being within the geographical limit of the United States… The Indians owe no allegiance to a State within which their reservation may be established, and the State gives them no protection.” 
What are today know as the Five Civilized Tribes originated in the Southeast part of the United States, and were probably descendents of the Mississippian culture, an agrarian culture that grew crops of corn and beans, with urban centers and regional chiefdoms, of which the greatest was the settlement known as Cahokia, in present-day Illinois. Stratified societies developed, with hereditary religious and political elites, and flourished in what is now the Midwestern, Eastern, and Southeastern United States from 800 to 1500 C.E.
Between 1814 and 1840, the Five Civilized Tribes had gradually ceded most of their lands in the Southeast section of the US through a series of treaties. The southern part of Indian Country (what eventually became the State of Oklahoma) served as the destination for the policy of Indian Removal, a policy pursued intermittently by American presidents early in the nineteenth century, but aggressively pursued by President Andrew Jackson after the passage of the Indian Removal Act of 1830. The Five Civilized Tribes in the South were the most prominent tribes displaced by the policy, a relocation that came to be known as the Trail of Tears during the Choctaw removals starting in 1831. The trail ended in what is now Arkansas and Oklahoma, where there were already many Indians living in the territory, as well as whites and escaped slaves. Other tribes, such as the Delaware, Cheyenne, and Apache were also forced to relocate to the Indian territory.
The Five Civilized Tribes established tribal capitals in the following towns:
The Five Civilized Tribes set up towns such as Tulsa, Ardmore, Muskogee, which became some of the larger towns in the state. They also brought their African slaves to Oklahoma, which added to the black American population in the state.
The Western Lakes Confederacy was a loose confederacy of tribes around the Great Lakes region following the American Revolutionary War organized to resist the expansion of the US into the Northwest Territory. Many members of the confederacy were ultimately removed to the present-day Oklahoma, including Shawnee, Delaware Tribe of Indians also called Lenape, Miami, and Kickapoo.
The Council of Three Fires is an alliance of the Ojibwe or Chippewa, Ottawa, and Potawatomi tribes. In the first of two 1829 Treaty of Prairie du Chien, the tribes of the Council of Three Fires ceded to the United States their lands in Illinois Michigan and Wisconsin. The 1833 Treaty of Chicago  forced the members of the Council of Three Fires to move first to present-day Iowa, then Kansas and Nebraska. Some members ultimately ended in present-day Oklahoma.
The Iroquois Confederacy was an alliance of tribes, originally from the New York state area consisting of the Seneca tribe, Cayuga tribe, Onondaga (tribe), Oneida tribe, Mohawk nation, and Tuscarora (tribe). In pre-revolutionary war days, the Confederacy expanded to areas from Kentucky and Virginia north. All of the members of the Confederacy, except Oneida, allied with the British during the Revolutionary War, and were forced to cede their land after the war. Most moved to Canada after the Treaty of Canandaigua in 1794, some remained in New York, and some moved to Ohio, joining the Shawnee.
The 1838 and 1842 Treaties of Buffalo Creek were treaties with New York Indians, such as the Seneca Nation, Mohawk nation, Cayuga nation, and Oneida Indian Nation, which covered land sales of tribal reservations under the US Indian Removal program, by which they planned to move most eastern tribes to Indian Territory. Initially, the tribes were moved to the present state of Kansas, and later to Oklahoma in the Land administered by the Quapaw Indian Agency.
The Plains Indians are an archetype in art and literature for all Native Americans. Initially, some Plains Indian tribes were agrarian and others were hunter-gathers. Some tribes used the dog as a Draft animal to pull a small Travois (or sleigh) to help move from place to place. However, in the 18th century most plains tribes adopted the Horse culture and became nomadic. The Tipi (also tepee and teepee, and not to be confused with the Wigwam of the tribes of the Northeast and the West) was used by Plains Indians as a dwelling unit because they were portable and could be reconstructed quickly when the tribe settled in a new area for hunting or a Pow wow (a periodic gathering of medicine men and/or spiritual leaders).
Historically, the Arapaho had assisted the Cheyenne and Lakota people in driving the Kiowa and Comanche south from the Northern Plains, their hunting area ranged from Montana to Texas. Kiowa and Comanche controlled a vast expanse of territory from the Arkansas River to the Brazos River. By 1840 many plains tribes had made peace with each other and developed Plains Indian Sign Language as a means of communicate with their allies.
Because Oklahoma is situated between the Great Plains and the Ozark Plateau in the Gulf of Mexico watershed, the western part of the state is subjected to extended periods of drought and high winds in the region may then generate Dust storms, and the eastern part of the state is humid subtropical climate zone. Tribes that are indigenous to the current-day State of Oklahoma include both agrarian tribes settling in the eastern part of the state and Hunter-gatherer tribes adopting the Horse culture settling in the western part of the state. These indigenous tribes are the only tribes currently residing in the State of Oklahoma that would qualify as having Aboriginal title to their land. Other tribes received their land either by treaty via Land grant from the Federal government of the United States or they purchased the land receiving Fee simple title.
White settlers continued to flood into Indian country. As the population increased, the homesteaders could petition Congress for creation of a territory. This would initiate an Organic Act which established a three-part territorial government. The governor and judiciary were appointed by the President of the United States, while the legislature was elected by citizens residing in the territory. One elected representative was allowed a seat in the U. S. House of Representatives. The Federal Government took responsibility for all territorial affairs. Later, the inhabitants of the territory could apply for admission as a full state. No such action was taken for the so-called Indian Territory, so that area was not treated as a legal territory.
The reduction of in land area of Indian Territory (or Indian Country, as defined in the Indian Intercourse Act of 1834), the successor of Missouri Territory began almost immediately after its creation with:
Indian Country was reduced to the approximate boundaries of the current state of Oklahoma by the Kansas–Nebraska Act of 1854, which created Kansas Territory and Nebraska Territory. The key boundaries of the territories were:
Kansas became a state in 1861, and Nebraska became a state in 1867. In 1890 the Oklahoma Organic Act created Oklahoma Territory out of the western part of Indian Territory, in anticipation of admitting both Indian Territory and Oklahoma Territory as a single State of Oklahoma.
At the beginning of the Civil War, Indian Territory had been essentially reduced to the boundaries of the future State of Oklahoma, and the primary residents of the Territory were members of the Five Civilized Tribes plus a number of Plains tribes that had been relocated to the western part of Indian Territory on land leased from the Five Civilized Tribes. In 1861 the US abandoned Fort Washita, leaving the Chickasaw and Choctaw Nations defenseless against the Plains tribes. Later the same year the Confederate States of America signed a Treaty with Choctaws and Chickasaws. Ultimately, all of the Five Civilized Tribes, as well as several other tribes that had been relocated to the area, signed treaties of friendship with the Confederacy.
During the Civil War, Congress gave the President the authority to, if a tribe was "in a state of actual hostility to the government of the United States… and, by proclamation, to declare all treaties with such tribe to be abrogated by such tribe"(25 USC Sec. 72). 
Members of the Five Civilized Tribes, and others who had relocated to the Oklahoma section of Indian Territory, fought primarily on the side of the Confederacy during the American Civil War in Indian territory. Following the Battle of Doaksville, Brigadier General Stand Watie, a Confederate commander of the Cherokee Nation, became the last Confederate general to surrender in the American Civil War, on 23 June 1865. The Reconstruction Treaties signed at the end of the Civil War fundamentally changed the relationship between the tribes and the US Government, and the Indian Territory shrank to about 1/2 its former size.
The Reconstruction Era of the United States had different significance for Indian Territory and Native Americans than was seen in the rest of the country. In 1862 Congress passed a law that allowed to President, by proclamation, to cancel all treaties with Indian Nations siding with the Confederacy (25 USC 72).." The United States House Committee on Territories (created in 1825) was examining the effectiveness of the policy of Indian removal, which was after the war considered to be of limited effectiveness. It was decided that a new policy of Assimilation would be implemented. To implement the new policy, the Southern Treaty Commission was created by Congress to write new treaties with the Tribes siding with the Confideracy.
After the Civil War the Southern Treaty Commission re-wrote treaties with tribes that sided with the Confederacy, reducing the territory of the Five Civilized Tribes and providing land to resettle Plains Indians and tribes of the mid-west. General components of replacement treaties signed in 1866 include:
One component of assimilation would be the distribution of property held in-common by the tribe to individual members of the tribe.
Medicine Lodge Treaty is the overall name for three treaties signed in Medicine Lodge, Kansas between the US government and southern Plains Indian tribes who would ultimately reside in the western part of Indian Territory (ultimately Oklahoma Territory). The first treaty was signed October 21, 1867, with the Kiowa and Comanche tribes.  The second, with the Kiowa-Apache,  was signed the same day. The third treaty was signed with the Southern Cheyenne and Arapaho on October 28.
Another component of assimilation was Homesteading. The Homestead Act of 1862, was signed into law by President Abraham Lincoln. The Act gave an applicant freehold title to an area called a "homestead" - typically 160 acres (65 hectares or one-fourth section) of undeveloped federal land. Within Indian Territory, as lands were removed from communal tribal ownership, a Land patent (or first-title deed) was given to tribal members. The remaining land was sold on a first-come basis (typically by Land run, with settlers also receiving a Land patent type deed. For these now former Indian lands, the General Land Office distributed the sales funds to the various tribal entities, according to previously negotiated terms.
With Reconstruction the reduction in size of Indian Territory, the renegotiated treaties with the Five Civilized Tribes and the tribes occupying the land of the Quapaw Indian Agency contained provisions for a government structure in Indian Territory. Replacement treaties signed in 1866 contained provisions for:
In a continuation of the new policy, the 1890 Oklahoma organic act extended civil and criminal laws of Arkansas over the Indian Territory, and extended the laws of Nebraska over Oklahoma Territory.
In time, the Indian Territory was reduced to what is now Oklahoma. The Organic Act of 1890 reduced Indian Territory to the lands occupied by the Five Civilized Tribes and the Tribes of the Quapaw Indian Agency (at the borders of Kansas and Missouri). The remaining western portion of the former Indian Territory became the Oklahoma Territory.
The Oklahoma organic act applied the laws of Nebraska to the incorporated territory of Oklahoma Territory, and the laws of Arkansas to the still unincorporated Indian Territory. (For years the Federal Court in Ft. Smith, Arkansas had jurisdiction over Indian Territory.)
The citizens of Indian Territory tried, in 1905, to gain admission to the union as the State of Sequoyah, but were rebuffed by Congress and an Administration which did not want two new Western states, Sequoyah and Oklahoma. Citizens then joined to seek admission of a single state to the Union. With Oklahoma statehood in November 1907, Indian Territory was extinguished.
Many Indians continue to live in Oklahoma, especially in the eastern part.
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