Census of 1890 in Indian Territory

Each of The Five Tribes takes a census very often; some every 5 years, some oftener. The peculiar method of government in the nations, whereby the authorities at the several capitals are kept advised by the Light Horse (police), or town, county, or district authorities of changes, enables them to keep fairly authentic lists of the population. This is done chiefly for the purpose of resisting the claims of persons desiring to be known as citizens of the tribes and participants in land divisions and the money to be divided between these Indians on account of sales of surplus lands. Such records as matters of proof will be invaluable in the future, as they will fix the date of settlement of many claimants.

The enumerators of The Five Civilized Tribes in the Indian Territory for the United States census were mostly Indians, appointed on the recommendation of the governors or principal chiefs, but some changes were made, and almost all were changed in one of the tribes, for reason. Four special agents were sent to the Indian Territory to supervise the work by an agreement with the governors or their representatives. The wisdom of this policy was apparent when the peculiar nature of Indian political conditions became known.

Much opposition was shown to the census. The Creek and Seminole authorities aided it, however, by legislative action. They urged the residents to give information to the enumerators, but meetings were held to resist them. Under the circumstances, it was decided to ask as few questions as possible, and to get, as a rule, the general statistics of population. It was found difficult to obtain other statistics. The four special agents in charge visited the nations, and their reports give their observations in detail. The unsettled condition of the Indian Territory and the constant clashing between the whites, called intruders, and the Indians or their authorities produced a prejudice against the census which was hard to overcome.

The citizens of The Five Tribes watch with a jealous eye each movement of the United States or its agents, as questions of vast moment are pending. This made them chary of answering questions proposed by the enumerators or special Agents.

A serious difficulty was met in the answer to “Are you an Indian”? Under the laws of The Five Tribes or nations of the Indian Territory a person, white in color and features, is frequently an Indian, being so by remote degree of blood or by adoption. There are many whites now resident claiming to be Indians whose claims have not as yet been acted upon by the nations. Negroes are frequently met who speak nothing but Indian languages, and are Indians by tribal law and custom, and others are met who call themselves Indians who have not yet been so acknowledged by the tribes. These circumstances necessarily produced some confusion as to the number of Indians separately designated. However, the total population as given is correct.

The difficulties surrounding the taking of this census were augmented by the fact that in enrolling the Indians it frequently occurred that it was necessary to equip 2 and sometimes 3 interpreters to accompany the enumerator to converse with Indians in the same locality. The residents of The Five Civilized Tribes, citizens or otherwise, pay no taxes on real or personal property, and there are no assessments for this purpose.

1890 Census Districts

In the Cherokee Nation were the following 9 districts: Canadian, Cooweeskoowee Delaware, Flint, Going Snake, Illinois, Saline, Sequoyah, and Tahlequah.

In the Chickasaw Nation were 4 counties: Panola, divided into 2 districts for census purposes; Pickens, divided into 8 districts for census purposes; Pontotoc, divided into 3 districts for census purposes; and Tishomingo, divided into 2 districts for census purposes.

In the Choctaw Nation the 3 judicial districts were followed for census purposes: first judicial district-Gaines county, San Bois county, Scullyville county, Sugar Loaf county, and Tobucksy county; second judicial district Apuckshamby County, Boktoklo County, Eagle County, Red River County, Wade County, and Wolf County; third judicial district-Atoka County, Blue County, Jacks Forks County, Jackson County, and Kiamichi County.

In the Creek Nation the 6 districts were followed for census purposes: Cowetah district, Deep Fork district, Eufaula district, Muscogee district, Okmulgee district, and Wewoka district.

In the Seminole Nation there were no counties or districts.


The population (a) of The Five Civilized Tribes was found to be 178,097, as follows: Indians of The Five Tribes living in their own tribes, 45,494; other Indians, including many Indians of The Five Tribes who were found in other tribes than their own, 4,561; total Indians, 50,055; Indian citizen negroes and others of negro descent, 18,636; Chinese, 13; whites, including some claimants of Indian citizenship, 109,393.

The Cherokee national census of 1880 showed a citizen population of 20,336, from which there is an apparent gain of 5,542 in the 10 years from 1880 to 1890 upon the basis of Cherokee censuses.

Cherokee Nation

Population by Color, Total, 56,309. Cherokee, 20,624, of whom 11,531 are pure bloods; other Indians, 1,391; persons of Negro descent, 5,127, including Negro, 4,658; Mulatto, 421; Quadroon, 32; Octoroon. 14; Negro Choctaw, 1; Negro Cherokee, 1; white, 29,166; Chinese, 1.

Chickasaw Nation

Population by Color, Total, 57,329. Chickasaw, 3,941, including pure blood Chickasaw, 3,129; white Chickasaw, 681; Negro Chickasaw, 122; Mulatto Chickasaw, 9. Other Indians, 1,282, including Choctaw, 760; Cherokee, Lb; Creek, 22; Shawnee, 3; Seminole, 1; Delaware, 4; Pottawatomie, 5; Caddo, 3; Pottawatomie Cherokee, 1; Wyandotte, 2; white Cherokee, 56; white Choctaw, 230; white Creek, 2; white Shawnee by marriage, 1; white Wyandotte, 1; negro Cherokee, 4; Negro Choctaw, 27; Negro Creek, 12. Persons of Negro descent, 3;676, including Negro, 3,651; Mulatto, 20; Quadroon, 3; Octoroon, 2. White, 48,421. Chinese, 9.

Choctaw Nation

Population by Color, Total, 43,808. Choctaw, 10,017. Other Indians, 1,040, including Indian Negro, 214;
Indian Mulatto, 15; Cherokee, 87; Creek, 36; Chickasaw, 120; Mohawk, 4; Muscogee, 2; Catawba, 2; Chippewa, 5; Choctaw, one-half, 163; one-fourth, 7; white, three-fourths Choctaw, 1; white, one-half Choctaw, 4; white, one-fourth Choctaw, 5; white, one-eighth Choctaw, 2; white, one-sixteenth Choctaw, 12; white Choctaw, 122. White married to Indian, 8; Negro married to Indian, 5; Quadroon married to one half Indian, 1. Negro- Choctaw, 207; Cherokee Octoroon, 1; Choctaw Quadroon, 2; Choctaw, one-fourth Indian, 8; Choctaw, three-fourths Indian, 4; Choctaw, one-eighth Indian, 2; one-sixteenth Cherokee, 1. Persons of Negro descent, 4,406, including Negro, 4,357; Quadroon, 4; Octoroon, 13; Mulatto, 32. White, 28,345.

Creek Nation

Whites; 3,289; Creek Indians, enrolled as such, 9,291; Negroes, enrolled as such, 4,621, many of whom are Negro Creeks and claimants; 708 Indians, other than Creeks, given in detail above; 3 Chinamen.

The 708 Indians other than Creeks are: 462 Cherokees, 172 Seminoles, 31 Choctaws, 9 Chickasaws, 1 Stockbridge, 1 Sioux, 1 Canadian, 3 Shawnees, and 28 Pottawatomies. It is probable then that in Coweta district the Euchees may have been enrolled among those of Negro descent. Some, enrolled as white, may have been quarter and eighth bloods.

The Creek national census of 1890 gave 14,800 Creeks. This included the recognized Creeks of Negro descent, but not the other Indians, claimants of Negro descent, or whites. The census enumerators for the Creeks were almost all Creeks or of Negro descent, and probably attempted to define citizenship as they knew it by Creek law. On the abstracts they gave the Indians other than Creeks as colored.

Seminole Nation

The Negroes embraces the pure Negroes, 806 and those of mixed Seminole blood. The Seminoles intermarry with Negroes.. It is probable that the 806 of Negro descent are almost all classed by the Seminoles themselves as Seminoles. The 1,621 Seminoles are those of full, three-quarter, or half blood.

General Condition Of The Five Tribes: 1890

The condition of The Five Tribes of the Indian Territory, as shown by the census of 1890, personal investigation, and the reports of special agents, is that of a self-sustaining, fairly industrious, and law-abiding people. They live in a land without assessment or taxes. The term ” civilized” was originally applied to them in contradistinction to the life of the wild Indian tribes, but as a whole their condition is not the civilization of the Anglo-Saxon. The Indians of The Five Civilized Tribes, or a large number of them, are quarter and half-breeds; in fact, are white men in features. They are generally progressive, but the most obstinate opponents of change are found among them.

They have no written history. The majority of them still use the Indian language. The Cherokees have an. alphabet. Their books and laws are printed in it. More than one-fourth of all the care and treaties and laws for Indians since 1815 has been for The Five Civilized Tribes. They have occupied a large share of official time since 1800. They are called nations and occupy separate areas covered by patents. They have governors or principal chiefs, elective legislatures, variously named, elective courts, and officers and police. Some minor divisions are called counties and some districts. Except the Seminoles, all the nations have written or printed constitutions and laws. They have schools of their own and charities and churches in profusion. Their schoolbooks are in English. Newspapers are numerous and post offices plenty. The civilization of The Five Tribes has not been accomplished without a vast expenditure of time and money by white people. No Indians in the United States have received such care from-the whites or have been aided so much by the United States. The trust fund interest paid them by the United States has amounted to tens of millions. No figures are at hand to verify this, but $25,000,000 would be a small estimate. Much of their progress is due to a large Negro population in the several nations. The greater portion of these Negroes were at one time slaves, and they are now the laborers of The Five Tribes. They are fairly well advanced and are steadily increasing in numbers, wealth, and intelligence. In 1836 Albert Gallatin stated that the number of plows in The Five Tribes answered for the number of able bodied Negroes.

The Creek Nation is an alert and active one, which is largely due to the Negro element which fairly controls it. In the Choctaw Nation it is death for an Indian to intermarry with a Negro. In any of The Five Tribes where the Negroes have a fair chance there is a perceptible progress due to them.

The Negroes are among the earnest workers in The Five Tribes. The Creek Nation affords the best example of Negro progress. The principal chief, virtually a Negro, comes of a famous family in Creek annals. His name is Lequest Choteau Perryman. He was born in the Creek Nation, Indian Territory, March 1, 1838; educated at Tallahassee mission of the same nation, enlisted in the Union army in Kansas November, 1862, and was mustered out as sergeant-major of the First regiment Indian Home Guards, 1865. He served as district judge of the Coweta district, Muscogee Nation, 6 years; was elected to the council and served 13 years. He was elected principal chief and inaugurated December 5, 1887, for the term of 4 years.

The Negroes, once slaves of The Five Tribes, are of much interest in connection with the final settlement of the land question. The Five Tribes, except the Seminoles, all owned slaves prior to and during the war. These were freed by the proclamation of emancipation, and this was enforced and confirmed, after much protest, by the treaty of 1866. In 1860 the total number of slaves held by The Five Tribes was 7,369. The Seminoles held no slaves in Indian Territory, but they intermarried with Negroes. Since the war there has been a very large increase in the Negro population of The Five Tribes by immigration from the old slave states adjacent. The negro question in the Cherokee, Chickasaw, and Choctaw Nations, the equities and rights of these people in the lands of The Five Tribes, and its to citizenship, have yet to be properly settled.

The population of Negro descent in The Five Tribes, which includes former slaves, in 1890 was as follows: with the Cherokees, 5,127; Chickasaws, 3,676; Choctaws, 4,406; Creeks, 4,621; Seminoles, 806; total, 18,636.

In a country where land is virgin, fertile, and its use is to be had for the mere occupancy, there is but small inducement for careful or close farming. Poor roads prevent marketing crops, so cattle raising is a better occupation than farming. Much farming of The Five Tribes is merely for a livelihood. Crops of corn are frequently left to rot because of the cost of transportation to market.

While great and constant efforts are made toward progress in education, and steady improvement is manifest, it must be understood that the education of the ordinary day or neighborhood schools is of a limited kind. School terms consist of from 4 to 5 months of the year. The best and highest education comes from efforts entirely without The Five Tribes.
The noncitizens in The Five Tribes have a few schools sustained by private contributions, subscriptions, and fees. Many of the more wealthy noncitizens send their children to schools in the adjoining states.

The members of The Five Civilized Tribes wear citizens’ clothing. Ninety per cent of them practice the white man’s ways and have his customs. Now and then a man can be found with an Indian pipe, and sometimes one wears moccasins, and shawls are worn as well as blankets. The Creeks and the Choctaws still keep up their ball play, and old Indian dances are still held in some of the nations. Some individuals of .The Five Tribes are still classed as old time Indians and maintain a sturdy adherence to the old Indian faith. Medicine men are still to be found with them. Even among the Delawares in the Cherokee Nation can be found the survival of many old Indian dances and customs.

No distilled spirits are supposed to be sold in The Five Tribes. In 1890, to June 1, the distilled spirits used in the arts, manufactures, and for medicines in The Five Tribes, as shown by returns from retail apothecaries, were: ordinary gallons of whisky, 20; ordinary gallons of brandy, 16; ordinary gallons of gin, 5. Liquors are smuggled in, sold, and drunk. One extraordinary article of distillation, known as “white mule”, is used in the eastern part of the territory. It is a villainous moonshine whisky, distilled in the Ozark Mountains of Arkansas. Its effects probably cause one-half of the crimes in that portion of the territory.

Roads are poor and bridges across streams few and far between.

The party machinery in use in the Cherokee Nation in some features seems to be more advanced than the methods in use among the whites. The “barbecue” and “still hunt” are middle state methods. The method of viva voce voting is an old system.

The judges or inspectors of election, 4 in number, are seated around a table under a shady tree. The space of 50 feet all around this table is guarded, no person being allowed to approach within the limited space. When any person wishes to vote he approaches the table, tells the name of his choice and for whom he wishes to record his name, repeating each name until all the candidates on the list for offices are voted for. After the polls are closed the result is summed up and announced.


Licenses to trade in The Five Tribes were formerly issued by the Secretary of the Interior; now, in addition, they are issued by authority of the several tribes or nations.
Citizenship in The Five Tribes is regulated by tribal laws, and the right to make such laws has been conceded to them by the United States. Freedmen and other Negroes become citizens of some of the tribes under said laws. The United States urged and then directed much of the legislation as to the Negroes.

In the towns of The Five Nations, even the Indian towns, pure Indians are few and far between. In the country sonic are met. Negro Indians, especially in the Creek Nation, can be found in abundance, and some speak only the Creek language. The Indians of The Five Tribes are largely one-half and one-fourth bloods, and resemble white men more than Indians. The illustrations in this report are typical, and show comparatively few full-blood Indians. One constantly hears the remark from travelers in Indian Territory, “Why, where are the Indians”

Clans in towns are still preserved with the Creeks 1 , and among the Delawares with the Cherokees, and “bands” are noted still with the Seminoles.


The crimes committed by the citizens of The Five Tribes are usually promptly punished. By the treaty of 1866 Indian courts alone punish Indian criminals. The offenses are generally less than felonies, and are comparatively few. Few murders are committed by citizens. The intruder or noncitizen population contributes 80 per cent of the murders. Recently at Fort Smith, Arkansas, the ninety-sixth murderer in that jurisdiction was hanged. More than 60 of them were stated as being from Indian Territory. Indian citizens are excused by their own people in the several nations. In The Five Tribes the proportion of crimes committed is as small as in any other community of like population in the west. Ten men, it is stated, have been executed in the Cherokee Nation within the past 20 years.

When an Indian is condemned to death by shooting he is given a period, 30 days usually, in which to go home and fix up his affairs. He goes without guard or control, arranges all of his earthly matters, bids his friends and family good-bye, returns at the time appointed, and is promptly shot. Not one man of the many so permitted to go home after conviction, up to 1890, has failed to appear for execution.

The act of May 2, 1890, organizing the territory of Oklahoma and defining the boundaries of Indian Territory, contained a section under which members of The Five Tribes could become citizens of the United States, as follows

Section 43. That any member of any Indian tribe or nation residing in the Indian Territory may apply to the United. States court therein to become a citizen of the United States, and such court shall have jurisdiction thereof and shall hear and determine such application as provided in the statutes of the United States; and the confederated Peoria Indians residing in the Quapaw Indian agency, who have heretofore, or who may hereafter accept their land in severalty under any of the allotment laws of the United States, shall be deemed: to be, and are hereby, declared to be citizens of the United States from and after the selection of their allotments, and entitled to all the rights, privileges, and benefits as such; and parents are hereby declared from that time to have been and to be the legal guardians of their minor children without process of court: Provided, That the Indians who become citizens of the United States under the provisions of this act do not forfeit or lose any rights or privileges they enjoy or are entitled ae members of the tribe or nation to Which they belong.

To June 1, 1890, no person had taken advantage of this law.


The class called intruders includes those residing in The Five Tribes who are not recognized as citizens by the laws or authorities of said tribes or who do not pay the annual license fee. The question of citizenship will have to be considered by Congress in final settlement.

authorities of The Five Tribes are very earnest in opposition to intruders. The serious difficulty is that they are now so numerous. The following article upon this topic is from the fourth annual report of J. B. Mayes, principal chief of the Cherokees:

This question has become sickening to the pride of every Cherokee who has a bona fide interest in this nation, and is enough to arouse his indignation and vengeance, after having endured the burden, hardships, and expense of owning and holding this country for themselves and posterity, to be compelled to sit quietly and see a herd of vagabonds organizing themselves into a “citizenship association”, with a fund placed by it in the hands of unscrupulous lawyers to carry out one of the boldest robberies ever perpetrated on a people. This lawless class of marauders, who have come from the four corners of the earth, have fastened themselves upon our rich soil and claim to be Cherokees by blood, appealing to the United States government for protection in carrying out this infamous scheme. It makes no difference from what country he hails, if he only has the initiation fee of $5, he is duly ingrafted into said association and then instructed by the leader to make improvements on Cherokee land. How wonderfully strange the officers of the United States government, whose duty it is to remove them, after knowing all the facts connected with this fraud will listen to their plea and afford them protection. While recently in Washington, the Commissioner of Indian Affairs gave me his sacred promise that he would see that they were removed, but many means and ways are used to defeat this purpose.

The matter passes through many hands, many formalities are gone through with, and finally the proper officer loses sight of it; thereby this outrage goes on unsettled. This class of persons has been here for years, and in many instances accumulated fortunes by the use of our soil and the sale of our timber without paying 1 cent for the support of the government, and at the same time ignoring every statute on our law books.

Now, I recommend that you make a last appeal to the government for their removal, and if this effort should prove futile, that you provide for their removal at the hands of the proper officers of this nation. It would he better for the nation to suffer in the act of ‘removing the intruder than to be both insulted and robbed. Self-protection is the first law of nature. We do not deserve to own homes if we are not willing to make a sacrifice in protecting them. The Cherokee Nation has for the last 20 years begged, prayed, and plead with the government to carry out its treaty agreements for the removal of intruders, but nothing has been done, and they are daily coining into our country and settling on our soil.

The towns occupied by the noncitizens, called intruders, are merely camps, but with valuable and important buildings. There are no town limits, sewers, water supply, police, fire departments, or any of the ordinary features of organized communities. The United States court has jurisdiction of civil suits between or affecting noncitizens of The Five Tribes, and under this authority appoints United States commissioners in each of the towns and deputy United States marshals as well, who act as officers for the commissioners.

The Indian who owns or claims the occupancy title to the lands on which the noncitizen towns are situated collects rents from the lot holders. The permit collectors of taxes on nonresidents for license to trade, or practicing the professions, or to reside in a nation, closely watch the incoming of the noncitizen residents of towns.

It is difficult to enroll a town as such in Indian Territory, as there are no town lines. Not one town in Indian Territory is incorporated, there being no law to incorporate town sites. Persons, other than citizens, building houses in towns or cities do so at their own risk. They usually pay yearly rentals for the privilege to the Indian citizen who claims the land. Most of the towns are built adjacent to railroads and near the strips of land which the railroad companies own, 200 feet wide and 2,000 feet in length, where such towns or stations are located.

The population of the towns, as obtained by the enumerators, is as follows:

Cherokee Nation, Tahlequah, 1,200; Vinita, 1,200.
Chickasaw Nation, Ardmore, 2,100; Purcell, 1,060; Wynnewood, 398; Pauls Valley, 206; Marietta, 110; Dougherty, 103; Benogn, 95.
Choctaw Nation, Lehigh, 1,600; McAlester, 3,000; Krebs, 3,000; Caddo, 2,170; Atoka, 800; Colgate, 818; Hartshorn, 939.
Creek Nation, Muscogee, 1,200; Okmulgee, 136; Eufaula, 500.
Seminole Nation, Wewoka, 23; a mere hamlet about the council house and post office.

Post Offices For The Five Tribes, There are 63 post offices in the Cherokee Nation; 76 in the Chickasaw Nation; 73 in the Choctaw Nation; 6 in the Creek Nation, and 4 in the Seminole Nation.Citations:

  1. The following is an account of the Creek towns in the Creek Nation by Governor L. C. Perryman, principal chief of the Creek Nation:

    Tulsa Creek Nation, Ind. T.,
    September 29, 1891.

    It is quite difficult to locate all of the Creek towns now on the map of the Muskogee nation, at least some of them, as some of the citizens of the different towns are scattered all over the nation, but I have done so as near as I can. The general map you send me is not correct [map of 1882]. To explain now why our people live in this way [in towns] would be a hard thing to do. These towns, as they are called, have existed from time immemorial with the Creeks. We have had more towns, but some are now extinguished. The system grew out of the necessity of reaching our people quickly, and thus give the central control knowledge of the wants of our people.

    “It would take a volume to explain to you the authority each town used to have under the old. customs, each having a king and warriors, that is, the power each then had, which aggregated powers made the old Creek confederacy, which is now the Creek or Muskogee Nation. Those fires in each town are still to be seen by seeing representatives of the towns in our councils. This town system is based upon communism. As long as the council represents towns the holding of lands by citizens of the nation in common will always be the rule, and I think it is the best way of holding lands for the poor class of citizens in any country. Our council, which meets at Ocmulgee, consists of two bodies, the house of kings and the house of warriors. The members are the kings and warriors of the towns. Ne real patriotism can exist among our people except as it comes direct from the traditions of these several towns”.

    Towns, 1. Coweta,. 2. Broken Arrow. 3. Cheyaha. 4. Locharpoka. 5. Conchartey. 6. Hechetey. 7. Cussehta. 8. Tasleke. 9. Tulsa (Canadian) 10. Tulsa (Little River). 11. Noyarka (Nuyarka). 12. Alfaske (Okfaske) . 13. Arbekoche. 14. Arbeka. 16. Arbeka, second. 16. Asselaruape or Grunlief (Ussalarnuppee or Green Leaf). 17. Oewohka. 18. Tharthoculka or Fish Pond. 19. Tharprakko (Tharpthlocco). 20. Tokebachee. 21. Thewahley. 22. Kialiga (Kialigee). 23. Tokpafka. 24. Talmochussee (Talmochusee). 25. Yoofala, first (Eufaula). 26. Yoofala, second (Eufaula). 27. Pakantalahassee. 28. Hillarbe. 29. Chartarksofka. 30. Kichopatake. 31. Artnssee. 32. Tallahassoehee (Tailahassochee). 83. Allabama (Alabama). 35. Osochee. 36. Oeokofke. 37. Okcharya. 38. Ocheyapoia. 39. Talwathakko. 40. Talartoga (Tulladegee). 41. Hntschechapa (Hutschecuppa). 42. Quassartey, first. 43. Quassartey, second. 44. Yoochee (Euchee). 45. Big Spring. 46. Arkansas (colored, newly organized). 47. North Fork (colored, newly organized). 48. Canadian (colored, newly organized).[]

Indian Territory,

Department of the Interior. Report on Indians Taxed and Indians not Taxed in the United States, Except Alaska at the Eleventh Census: 1890. Washington DC: Government Printing Office. 1894.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Discover more from Access Genealogy

Subscribe now to keep reading and get access to the full archive.

Continue reading

Scroll to Top