Topography of the Chickasaw Nation

The general topography of the country is that of a rolling prairie in the west, more hilly and -wooded in the east. The country is well watered by the South Canadian, Washita, and Red rivers, with their numerous tributaries. In the extreme west the cattle industry still flourishes to a considerable extent, although the small farms are rapidly encroaching upon the cattle ranges.

Innumerous river valleys and creek bottoms the agricultural resources of the country attain their highest development, though the uplands are capable of producing bountiful crops. In the central part of the nation a high range of hills, called the Arbuckle Mountains, covers a large scope of country, while the country to the east is broken by abrupt hills, heavily timbered. It is in this rough, hilly country that the recent mineral discoveries were made. Gold and silver are said to exist here to some extent, and deposits of coal, iron, lead, and mica await development. But two coalmines have been opened as yet. One railroad, the Gulf, Colorado, and Santa Fe, traverses the Chickasaw Nation from north to south; the Missouri, Kansas, and Texas railroad crosses Panola County in the southeastern portion of the nation. The Rock island and Peoria railway is built to Minco, on the South Canadian. Other lines have secured charters from Congress. There are several good towns, a score of trading points, and 76 post offices in the nation. The basis of the nation’s industries is agriculture. Corn, wheat, hay, vegetables, cattle, hogs, and horses are the leading products of the country. The timber wealth is undeveloped. There is not a turnpike, macadamized road, nor improved highway in the nation. Mud roads are the only highways of travel. With the exception of a few very small bridges across insignificant brooks and railroad bridges there are no bridges in the nation. The rivers, such as the South Canadian, the ‘Washita, and Caddo, are all forded. A rainy spell of any consequence interrupts communication between the different parts of the nation, and travelers are frequently water-bound for a week in. traveling even a short distance. Some few ferries are to be found. The population of the Chickasaw Nation is made up largely of whites, noncitizens, most of whom rent farming lands of the tribal citizens. Traders and professional men are required to pay an occupation tax also. The noncitizens are not amenable to the tribal laws, the United States having recently established its own courts in the territory. All controversies between the two elements are tried in the United States courts, those between the Indian citizens alone being left to the jurisdiction of the tribal or Chickasaw national courts. Considering the conditions under which these people live crime is rare in the Chickasaw Nation. Most of the eases brought to court are of a civil nature, or trivially criminal; there arc but few felonies. The noncitizens are usually law-abiding and generally industrious. The improvements on realty in the nation are necessarily of a transient nature, owing to the uncertainty of the land tenure. There is little expenditure for permanent improvements on the part of the citizens who hold their lands in common, and none by the noncitizens who can under the law make a rent contract for but one year. The conditions which delay the advancement of the country apply with greater farce to the progress of the towns. There are no provisions for town sites under the Chickasaw law, and the occupants of town lots are merely tenants of the native landholder or claimant like their agricultural brethren. The buildings are, as a consequence, temporary, and public improvements and regulations inadequate. The towns have no government of any kind, consequently they are filthy from lack of sanitary regulations and disorderly for want of police protection. The future will bring an increase of the white population and make the question more serious. The more intelligent and progressive citizens and noncitizens are anxiously looking forward to the change which is certainly imminent. The allotment of land in severalty among the tribal citizens, the abolition of tribal relations, and the statehood of the Indian Territory is the relief expected by some. The cost of living is small, the soil is fertile, and the climate genial. The Chickasaw farmers on leased lands are doing well, and the white inhabitants of the towns are generally well-to-do. The settlement of the country and growth of the towns have been rapid.


Donaldson, John. The Chickasaw, 11th Census of the United States. Washington, D.C.: Robert P. Porter, Superintendent, US Printing Office. 1892

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