Sunday, April 08, 2018

Schools among the Chickasaws in Indian Territory: Independence and Its Immediate Aftermath

1856 marked a major turning point in Chickasaw history. In that year a new treaty took effect and finally gave the tribe political separation from the Choctaws.

The 1837 Treaty of Doaksville had essentially made the Chickasaws a mere part of the Choctaw Nation. In the years that followed, the Chickasaws determined to distinguish themselves politically. Their argument for independence included four points.

First, against the protests of the Choctaw Nation, the Chickasaws insisted that the $530,000 paid to the Choctaws as part of the 1837 Treaty of Doaksville provided for a separate Chickasaw district. Second, a twenty-mile wide strip starting at the Canadian River in the north and running to the Red River in the south had served as a boundary between the Choctaws and Chickasaws from the time they arrived in Indian Territory. The existence of that boundary supported the first claim; if no real distinction existed between the two, then why was there ever a boundary? Third, the Chickasaws complained that they did not have adequate representation in the Choctaw government. Fourth, propagandists among the Chickasaws threatened that trouble would break out between them and the Choctaws if Chickasaw demands were not finally satisfied. The federal government responded with support for Chickasaw independence.[1]

Upon gaining their new independence, the Chickasaws set out to establish for themselves a solid educational system. Among other provisions, the tribal leadership set aside monies for additional schools and established the elected office of superintendent of public instruction.[2]


[1] Arrell M. Gibson, The Chickasaws (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1971), 250-51.

[2] Ibid., 255; Caroline Davis, "Education of the Chickasaws, 1856-1907," Chronicles of Oklahoma 15, no. 4 (1937): 415.

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