Saturday, April 14, 2018

Schools among the Chickasaws in Indian Territory: The Civil War and Its Aftermath (4)

At the insistence of the federal government, the treaty of 1866 provided for railroads through Indian Territory, one running north and south, the other running east and west. With the coming of the railroads, immigration to Indian Territory was easier than ever.

The railroad finally entered the Chickasaw Nation in 1887, and the Chickasaw world was forever changed. By 1890, non-citizens in the nation outnumbered Indians by more than 10-to-1, with approximately 64,000 whites compared to 6,000 Indians. A 1900 census report indicated that while the number of Chickasaws stood at 6,000, as many as 150,000 whites resided in the Chickasaw Nation.[1] Who were these people? Historian Caroline Davis described them as follows:
Farm laborers and mechanics, under permit, made up the greater share of this number; the others, holding some sort of legal status within the Nation, were licensed traders, government employees, railroad employees, coal miners, and claimants to Indian citizenship; but there was yet another group made up of sojourners, prospectors, visitors, intruders, cattlemen, and squatters who had no lawful rights whatever within the Nation.[2]
The arrival of so many new people created a new set of issues related to pubic education. Chickasaw officials had always refused to allow Anglo children to attend government-sponsored schools. They now maintained that position. At the same time, Anglo parents were unwilling or unable to send their children to faraway boarding schools. Euro-Americans and their federal government began agitating for some sort of remedy.

The U.S. government suggested that "certain sections of land be given the non-citizens upon which they could erect schools and hire their own teachers. In some few cases, this last was acceded to by the Indians. Slowly, however, the more progressive people began to work out a system of subscription schools within the towns."[3]


[1] Arrell M. Gibson, The Chickasaws (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1971), 285.

[2] Caroline Davis, "Education of the Chickasaws, 1856-1907," Chronicles of Oklahoma 15, no. 4 (1937): 434.

[3] Ibid., 435.

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