General Council For Indian Territory

     For many years, various Federal officials urged the five tribes to agree to the establishment of a Territorial Council to be composed of delegates from each tribe empowered to enact legislation of a general character for the whole territory. The several tribes were inclined to regard the proposition with suspicion, apparently fearing that it might result in their losing some of their tribal rights and authority, or that it might be an attempt upon the part of the Government to cajole them into an agreement to abolish their tribal governments. The various tribes were finally induced to try the experiment, however, the Government agreeing to pay the expenses of delegates to an annual council to be held at Okmulgee, the capital of the Creek Nation. The first session was held in 1870, and the council continued to meet annually for several years thereafter without accomplishing any material results. Up to 1875, the Government had paid out $66,500 as expenses of the delegates to the general council meetings, but during its five annual sessions not a single act of legislation was passed.

No Man’s Land

     The narrow strip of territory, which adjoined Kansas and Colorado. on the south, commonly called “No Man’s Land,” has had a peculiar history. The map-makers attached it as a sort of handle to Indian Territory, because they did not know what else to do with it. Kansas did not claim it, Colorado did not want it, Oklahoma, not yet organized, could not control it, and the United States exercised but slight, if any, jurisdiction over it. This state of affairs made it an ideal rendezvous for the gamblers, bootleggers, cattle thieves and fugitives from justice. Many of them believed that neither state nor Nation had the authority to arrest any one on this neutral strip, and any deputy undertaking such a task was liable to die with his boots on.
     But how did “No Man’s Land” originate? When Texas was admitted into the Union in 1845, its northern boundary extended to the southern boundaries of Kansas and Colorado, which was the thirty-seventh degree of north latitude, but the Act of Congress known as the Missouri Compromise had declared that the slave territory could not extend farther north than 361/2 degrees. Texas, of course, was a slave state and did not want any “free nigger” land within its boundaries, so it confined its northern boundary to the line of the Missouri Compromise, leaving out a strip one-half degree, or about thirty-five miles wide, which for many years thereafter, and until it became a part of Oklahoma, was designated “No Man’s Land.”

Source: Benedict, John D. Muskogee and northeastern Oklahoma, including the counties of Muskogee, McIntosh, Wagoner, Cherokee, Sequoyah, Adair, Delaware, Mayes, Rogers, Washington, Nowata, Craig, and Ottawa. 3 v. illus., ports., facsims. 28 cm. Chicago, S.J. Clarke Pub. Co., 1922.

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