Indian Territory

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The Indian Territory, also known as the Indian Territories and the Indian Country, was land set aside within the United States for the use of American Indians. The general borders were set by the Indian Intercourse Act of 1834.

The Indian Territory had its roots in the British Royal Proclamation of 1763, which limited white settlement to Crown lands east of the Appalachian Mountains. The Indian Reserve was reduced under British administration and again after the American Revolution, until it included only lands west of the Mississippi River.

At the time of the American Revolution, many Indian tribes had long-standing relationships with the British, but a less developed relationship with the American rebels. After the defeat of the British, the Americans twice invaded the Ohio Country and were twice defeated. They finally defeated an Indian confederacy at the Battle of Fallen Timbers in 1794, imposing the unfavorable Treaty of Greenville, which ceded most of what is now Ohio, part of what is now Indiana, and the present day sites of Chicago and Detroit to the United States.

The Indian Territory 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 set up towns such as Tulsa, Ardmore, Tahlequah, Tishomingo, Muskogee, and others, which often 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. Members of these tribes 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.

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