KanColl: The Kansas
Historical Quarterlies

Removal of the Osages from Kansas
Part One

by Berlin B. Chapman

August, 1938 (Vol. 7, No. 3), pages 287 to 305
Transcribed by lhn;
digitized with permission of the Kansas State Historical Society.

     WHEN the Great and Little Osage tribes, by the treaty of June 2, 1825, [1] ceded and relinquished to the United States all their claim to lands south of the Kansas river, and lying west of the state of Missouri and the territory of Arkansas, they reserved so long as they might choose to occupy the same, a rectangular tract of land in what is now southern Kansas, just west of the Cherokee neutral lands. [2] The tract was fifty miles wide and about one hundred and twenty-five miles long. By the treaty of September 29, 1865, [3] the Osages agreed to sell the eastern part of this tract of land to the United States. They ceded the northern part of the tract, or a strip twenty miles wide, to the United States to be held in trust and sold for their benefit at a price not less than one dollar and a quarter an acre; and the Osages agreed to settle upon their "diminished reservation." According to the treaty the Osages might unite with any tribe of Indians at peace with the United States, residing in the Indian territory.

     The treaty provided that if the Osages should agree to remove from Kansas and settle on lands to be provided for them by the United States in the Indian territory on such terms as might be agreed on between the United States and the Indian tribes then residing in said territory or any of them, then the diminished reservation should be disposed of by the United States in the same manner and for the same purpose as provided in the treaty in relation to said trust lands, except that fifty percent of the proceeds of the sale of the diminished reservation might be used by the United States in the purchase of lands for a suitable home for the Osages in the Indian territory.

     Articles fifteen [4] and sixteen of the Cherokee treaty of 1866 helped



to pave the way for the removal of the Osages from Kansas. A few years after the execution of the treaty, when valuable interests were involved, every word of these articles was examined and reexamined in an effort to apply every possible construction. Article sixteen was the more important, because the Osages finally settled on lands west of the ninety-sixth meridian. The article reads:

     The United States may settle friendly Indians in any part of the Cherokee country west of 96°, to be taken in a compact form in quantity not exceeding one hundred and sixty acres for each member of each of said tribes thus to be settled; the boundaries of each of said districts to be distinctly marked, and the land conveyed in fee simple to each of said tribes to be held in common or by their members in severalty as the United States may decide. Said lands thus disposed of to be paid for to the Cherokee nation at such price as may be agreed on between the said parties in interest, subject to the approval of the President; and if they should not agree, then the price to be fixed by the President. The Cherokee nation to retain the right of possession of and jurisdiction over all of said country west of 96° of longitude until thus sold and occupied, after which their jurisdiction and right of possession to terminate forever as to each of said districts thus sold and occupied.

     According to the treaty if the United States settled Indians on unoccupied lands east of the ninety-sixth meridian they were to be both "civilized" and "friendly," but the latter requirement alone sufficed for those settled west of that line. Article sixteen provided for the conveyance of the land in fee simple to Indian tribes, but did not specify by whom it should be conveyed. The last four words of the article deserve scrutiny. The words "thus sold" apparently refer to the words "paid for" used in the preceding sentences If the Cherokees had a fee-simple title to the Outlet prior to the treaty of


1866, which they appear to have had," the title remained in them until conveyed by them as provided for in the treaty, or otherwise. By the treaty the United States was made the agent of the Cherokees for the sale and disposition of the lands. It seems to have been a condition generally accepted that the Cherokees were occupying the lands of the Outlet; the patent of 1838 had specified that lands granted to the Cherokees should revert to the United States if the Cherokee nation abandoned the same.

     An unratified treaty of May 27, 1868 [7] set forth terms on which the Leavenworth, Lawrence and Galveston Railroad Company might purchase the lands of the Osages in Kansas. Article one stated that the Osages were desirous of removing to a new and permanent home in the Indian territory. By article fourteen the United States agreed to sell to them, for their future home, at a price not to exceed twenty-five cents per acre, the district of Cherokee country lying between the ninety-sixth meridian and the middle of the main channel of the Arkansas river. It was agreed that the United States should, at its own expense, cause the boundary lines of said country to be surveyed and marked by permanent and conspicuous monuments. It was also stipulated and agreed that when the United States had secured a title to the said district of country, the Osages should be required to remove and reside thereon; but that nothing in the treaty should be so construed as to compel them to remove from their reservation in Kansas until the government had secured said title, and notice thereof had been given by the Commissioner of Indian Affairs to the agent of the Osages.

     In his annual report the next year the local agent stated that in view of the condition of the Osages, their location and the immense immigration pouring in on the diminished reservation, nothing better could be done than to amend the treaty in certain provisions, so as for the government to take all the Osage lands in Kansas and move the Osages to Indian territory. [8] Supt. Enoch Hoag, after holding a


council with the Osages, reported on October 11, 1869, that it was his judgment that the larger portion of the tribe would prefer that the treaty should not be ratified. According to his report the Osages stated that they were anxious to sell their lands and remove to the Indian territory, whether or not the treaty was ratified. [9] In January, 1870, Agt. Isaac T. Gibson, in three letters, reported to Hoag that the lands of the Osages were being unlawfully intruded upon by white settlers and that there was danger of an outbreak on the part of the Indians in defense of their homes. [10] On January 28 the Office of Indian Affairs received a recommendation from Hoag stating that if the treaty were not ratified the government should at once buy the lands of the Osages and open a new home for them south, where they desired to go. "If this is long delayed," said Hoag, "war may result therefrom." [11] In view of the impoverished condition of the Osages, and as affording a mode of speedy settlement of the diffIculties arising from the encroachment of the whites, Com. E. S. Parker on March 3 suggested that it be recommended to congress that the sum of $50,000 be immediately appropriated to remove and settle the Osages in the Indian country. [12]

     In March the Office of Indian Affairs was informed that the Osages desired to send a delegation of their tribe to Washington on business considered by them to be of great importance. According to Gibson, they desired to consider, among other things, the making of an agreement disposing of their lands and providing for themselves a new home. [13] Commissioner Parker did not approve their request, but submitted it to Sec. Jacob D. Cox for consideration and. instructions. [14] Cox said that while he was opposed to the practice of Indians coming to Washington, under the impression that they could be benefited, he was inclined to grant the request of the Osages. "They have certainly been imposed upon and cruelly wronged by the settlers in Kansas," he said, "and I suggest that Agent Gibson be instructed to bring to Washington such delegation of the Osages as they may select, in order that the Department may hear from them the story of their wrongs, and may take action with a view to redress them." [15] On April 5 Parker directed that Gibson


bring a delegation, not more than six in number and also an interpreter, to Washington at the earliest day practicable. [16]

     At a certain payment made to the Osages on May 4, Hoag took the opportunity in general council to urge them, for their welfare, to visit the Commissioner of Indian Affairs through a judicious delegation, and with the approval of the President, arrange for the disposition of their lands in Kansas, and the securing of a new home in the Indian territory at the earliest period possible [17] Although the Osages appeared fully to realize the advantages as set forth by Hoag, and to appreciate the interest of the government in the premises, they failed to elect a delegation, and scattered to the plains. There was so much feeling in the tribe on the subject of treaties that Hoag considered it difficult for them to select a delegation with authority to sell their lands, in view of the responsibility and displeasure of the tribe that might follow.

     In a letter to Commissioner Parker on June 7 Hoag stated that Gibson was of the opinion that the Osages would not return to their homes after their hunt. He suggested that Gibson be at once directed to go to Washington and give the Department what information he could in the matter and confer therewith as to the best course to be pursued. With his letter Hoag enclosed a letter from Joseph Pah-ne-no-posh, governor of the Osage nation, stating that it was the desire of all the headmen of the nation for the President to send commissioners to them about August 20 to make a treaty, as they expected to make a short hunt and come in. [18] "If the Department should authorize a commission to treat with them for the sale of their lands, and their removal to a new home," said Hoag, "I would suggest that, to avail themselves of the confidence of the Osages, it should be a body representing the Government, and who had not participated in former treaties with them, as misrepresentations have produced a shyness with many of the tribe." On June 20 the Office of Indian Affairs recommended that necessary measures be taken in order to have the asked for council held in the Osage country at the time requested and that the government be represented in the council by members of the President's special Indian commission. [19]

     Sections twelve and thirteen of the Indian appropriation act of July 15 [20] provided that whenever the Osages should agree thereto,


in such manner as the President should prescribe, it should be his duty to remove them from Kansas to lands provided or to be provided for them for a permanent home in the Indian territory, to consist of a tract of land in compact form equal in quantity to one hundred and sixty acres for each member of the tribe, or such part thereof as said Indians might desire, to be paid for out of the proceeds of the sales of their lands in Kansas, the price per acre for such lands to be procured in the Indian territory not to exceed the price paid or to be paid by the United States for the same. And to defray the expenses of said removal, and to aid in the subsistence of the Osages during the first year, the sum named by Commissioner Parker in his letter of March 3 was appropriated, to be reimbursed to the United States from the proceeds of the sale of the lands of the Osages in Kansas. These lands, including the trust lands north of the diminished reservation, excepting sixteen and thirty-six sections, which should be reserved to Kansas for school purposes, should be sold to actual settlers at the price of one dollar and a quarter an acre; payment to be made in cash within one year from the date of settlement or of the passage of this act.

     It was agreed that the United States should pay interest annually on the amount of money received as proceeds of the sale of the lands at the rate of five percent, to be expended by the President for the benefit of the Osages, in such manner as he might deem proper. The proceeds should be carried to the credit of the Osages on the books of the Treasury. There were to be erected at their new home in the Indian territory, agency buildings, a warehouse, a dwelling and shop for a blacksmith, a saw and grist mill, a schoolhouse and church.

     In a report from the Office of Indian Affairs on July 19 the attention of the Secretary of the Interior was asked to the consideration of the request of Gov. Joseph Pah-ne-no-posh of May 20 that commissioners be appointed and sent to the Osages about August 20 to make an agreement with them, apparently in relation to their removal. Commissioner Parker recommended that steps be taken as soon as practicable to carry into effect the provisions of sections twelve and thirteen of the Indian appropriation act of July 15. [21] A copy of the report was transmitted by Secretary Cox on July 22 to Vincent Colyer, secretary of the Board of Indian Commissioners, with the request that the board inform the Office of Indian Affairs at what time it would be practicable for them to visit the Osages, to


carry into effect the recommendations contained in the report, [22] The subject was brought before the board at its special meeting in New York on July 28. John V. Farwell,.John D. Lang and Colyer were appointed a commission to visit the Osages, and if upon consultation with them it should be ascertained that they accepted the proposition of Congress, the commission were to assist them to the extent of their ability. On August 2 Acting Commissioner Cady wrote to the commission as follows:

Your board having arranged to be present at the council to be held with the Osages, in the Cherokee country, with a view to establishing this tribe upon a new reservation there, to be purchased from the Cherokees, the Secretary of the Interior directs me to say to you, that it is desired that the price to be given for the land shall not exceed 50 cents per acre, and that in making the arrangement with the Cherokees, your endeavor will be to subserve the interests of the Government as well as those of the Indians, and to effect, if possible, the purchase at even a less price. [23]

     However, Cady said that the matter was left to the discretion and sound judgment of the commission, and it was expected that the object would be accomplished to the satisfaction of all parties interested.

     Accompanying the letter was a copy of another letter by Cady to Hoag stating that the place of the meeting of the council with the Osages must be in the country to which they were to remove and not upon their reservation in Kansas. [24] On August 6 Hoag was advised that William P. Adair, Clement N. Vann and six other persons had been appointed commissioners on behalf of the Cherokee nation to meet the Osages in council in the Cherokee country sometime during August to confer upon the matter of procuring the Osages a home in that country. [25] The Cherokees were invited to be present at the council for the purpose of arranging their own terms. [26] Colyer objected to the provision in the instructions stating that the council should be held in the Cherokee country, since it assumed that the Osages would accept sections twelve and thirteen of the recent Indian appropriation act. On August 11 the instructions


were changed so that it was left to the Osages themselves to select the council ground. [27]

     About this time Agent Gibson sent out runners to notify the chiefs of the coming of the commission. But when the commission arrived at the Osage agency at Montgomery, Kan., on August 20 the tribe were nearly all out on the plains buffalo hunting. Pending the arrival of the Osages, the commission engaged teams, and accompanied by Hoag and Gibson, they occupied the four following days in visiting and inspecting the Cherokee lands they believed to be just west of the ninety-sixth meridian, to which lands it was proposed to remove the Osages. It may be that these horsemen were more engrossed in the location of the future home of the Osages than in finding for themselves a retreat from the rays of the August sun; and that they faithfully rode across an expanse of good land in the valley of the Cana. The commission said:

     We rode forty-five miles into the reservation, making a wide detour on our return, so that we could see as much of it as possible. We found the land of excellent quality, a liberal proportion of it, along the banks of the Cana, good bottom land, well timbered, with tall and thick prairie grass, plenty of water, and the upland rolling, apparently covered with good pasture for cattle, and considerable timber. [28]


     In establishing the Osage reservation there was no question more vexing than the location of the ninety-sixth meridian through the Cherokee country. The commission said that they could not find anyone who could inform them correctly as to the location of that line; nor were there any surveyor's marks to be seen. By the advice of the commission and the urgent request of the Osages, Superintendent Hoag employed a surveyor to run the line immediately. He probably employed A. H. Perry. At any rate a special or preliminary survey of the line was made in the autumn of 1870 for which Perry was allowed the sum of $618. [29]

     The commission were confronted by two obstacles to which they turned their attention before the Osages came in from the plains for a conference with them. First, there were about three hundred white people already settled upon the lands designated as a new reservation for the Osages. By September 2 troops were in southeastern Kansas for the purpose of removing the trespassers from the lands and many of them were removed during the fall. Second, there was difficulty in satisfying Osages who were opposed to the acceptance of sections twelve and thirteen of the act of July 15, 1870. Among them were half-breeds who had farms of choice land worth twelve or fifteen dollars an acre. The commission found it desirable to accept pledges made by a mass meeting of citizens settled upon the Osage reservation in Kansas, who as a "community" agreed to resolutions guaranteeing to the half-breeds full protection in their right to enter their claims as white settlers, should they desire to remain upon them, and if not of selling them, and extending to the purchasers of such Indian claims the same protection in their right to enter. According to the commission there was no other alternative but for them to pledge their influence with the government to secure all that the mass meeting had guaranteed, or fail to get the desirable cooperation of these half-breeds. Consequently they said to the half-breeds that if they would sign "the bill" the commission would use its influence with the government "to compel those twenty thousand squatters to redeem their pledges to the very letter." It is almost incredible that the commission or Osages would expect the Kansas frontiersmen to keep, without compulsion, pledges and promises to their own economic detriment. [30] But with the two obstacles


temporarily eliminated, the way for an agreement with the Osages was open.

     The commission met the Osages on the old council ground on the banks of Drum creek, at the agency. There was considerable discussion about the price the Osages were to pay for their new reservation. The commission fully explained to them the instructions of the government, that they were not to pay more than fifty cents per acre, in case they could not agree with the Cherokees, and referred the matter of price to the President.

     Clement N. Vann, representing the Cherokees, [31] was early on the ground, looking after the interest of his people, and was zealous in endeavoring to get one dollar and a quarter an acre for the lands to be occupied by the Osages. The commission said: "So earnestly did he press this that the Osages seemed at one time to be fully persuaded that they must pay that price for the new land, and it hindered our progress considerably." [32] However the commission stated that they succeeded in satisfying the Osages that the President would not make them pay more than fifty cents an acre for the lands.

     After the commission had had repeated conferences with the chiefs, a full council of the Osages assembled under a large elm tree in the afternoon of September 10 to determine whether they would accept or reject sections twelve and thirteen of the recent Indian appropriation act. All the tribes and bands of the Osages, except Young Claymore's band, were represented by their chiefs or headmen. A vast assembly of white settlers also came to witness the results of the day. In council the Osages observed that the land was as good as the money offered to them, and in fact could be longer retained by them. Gov. Joseph Pah-ne-no-posh stated that the government should pay the Osages about $300,000 for damages inflicted upon them by white intruders. [33] He presented to the commission a petition addressed to the President, signed by twenty-three chiefs, head men and councilors of the Osages.

     The petition stated among other things, that the Osages felt assured that "the bill" was the work of their friends, and not of speculators. It requested that the Osages be allowed to purchase a larger tract of country from the Cherokees than that provided in the act; to hold their lands in common until


they asked for them to be sectionalized; and that the right to hunt buffalo on the western prairies on government land be secured to them as long as buffalo continued plentiful. The Osages in the petition requested protection from intrusion upon their lands. And they asked that the United States purchase for them, adjoining their lands in Indian territory, the same quantity of land as had been granted Kansas for school purposes out of the Osage lands. [34]

     The council was adjourned until after supper, was reconvened at 8:30 in the evening, and the necessary signatures of the Osages were appended to the act signifying their acceptance of the same. [35] On September 12 Watanka, head councilor of the Claymore band, arrived at the council grounds, and after having fully asserted his dignity and right to be consulted, signed the act.

     The Board of Indian Commissioners observed that five weeks were required to allow the Osages time to decide upon the acceptance of the act, and that it was "probably the most important transaction of their lives." [36]

     Since the Osages agreed to part with their lands in Kansas, it became necessary to determine what Cherokee lands they should occupy, and also the area and price of the same. They gave their number to the commission as 3,500 souls, which number according to the Cherokee treaty of 1866 would allow them a tract of 560,000 acres. A delegation appointed by the Osage national council in September proceeded on the duty of selecting a new home for the tribe in the Indian territory. In a regular council called for that purpose, the principal chiefs on October 26 formally selected a tract of country which the Osages had frequently occupied temporarily, and had for years regarded as their future home. [37] The tract was considered to be 60 miles long, 16 2/3 miles wide and to comprise 640,000 acres. The ninety-sixth meridian, as determined by the special survey in the fall of 1870, severed the tract in twain.

     During the fall the Osages settled on the tract and began making improvements thereon. Their efforts were arrested by allegations of the Cherokees that the special survey of the ninety-sixth meridian was in notorious variance with the official maps furnished them by the government, and with every map known to exist; and that under this "surreptitious survey" the Osages were really making improvements upon Cherokee soil east of the true ninety-sixth meridian. [38]


     The situation of the Osages was further complicated because soon after they officially made their selection of land, a delegation of Kaws, with their agent, selected a tract of land for that tribe in the northern part of the Osage tract, and buttressed against the ninety-sixth meridian as determined by the special survey. [39] Most of the white settlers whom the military removed in the fall of 1870 from the lands of Indian territory bordering on Kansas, returned promptly when the soldiers left.

     During the summer Clement N. Vann, verbally and by letter, had pointed out that it would be better for the Osages and Cherokees to agree upon the price of the lands to be occupied by the Osages than to have the price determined by the government, because more cordiality and cooperation could then be expected between the two tribes. [40] Arrangements were made by Agent Gibson and Vann for a meeting of representatives of the two tribes on Cana river in the autumn, but the meeting did not take place. On October 22 Principal Chief Downing suggested that the Osages send a delegation to the Cherokee national council, soon to convene, which body would have full power to represent the Cherokees. [41] The Osages were anxious to have the matter settled and preferred to have the President determine the price of the lands. But on the recommendation of Gibson a delegation was appointed to go to Tahlequah. The Osage council instructed the delegation fully as to the choice of land, as to price, and instructed them to send their business to the President if negotiations with the Cherokees were not successful. In the minutes of the Osage council meeting of October 26 Gibson listed the names of ten delegates who were appointed-instructed to meet here (Canaville) in 12 days (Nov. 7), families of delegates to be subsisted here during their absence at nations expense. Delegates instructed as their first choice on both sides of 96--and second choice just west of 96. 6 of the Delegates will constitute a quorum. Delegates were instructed not to offer more than 25 cts per acre for the land except in case that the Cherokee Council offer to take 50 cts. per acre [42]


     On November 17 Gibson and the Osage delegation arrived at Tahlequah. In a letter to the Cherokee national council the following day they referred to the selection of land made by the Osages, observed that the desirable land was in the eastern part of the selection, and they stated that the Osages had been virtually homeless for a considerable time and were anxious to acquire a permanent home. They stated that if the lands selected by the Kaws, amounting to about 93,440 acres, were included in the Osage tract, it would be necessary to increase the width of the tract to 19 1/10 miles. They asked the national council to consent to occupation by the Osages of that part of their selection east of the ninety-sixth meridian as then determined, and also to state the lowest price per acre for all the lands embraced in their selection. [43]

     According to Gibson the Cherokee national council appeared to the Osage delegation to be very dilatory in their action; and the delegation became indignant at the delay. On November 30 Gibson addressed a letter to the commissioners on behalf of the Cherokee nation named in Acting Commissioner Cady's letter of August 6, stating that the delegation would like to confer with them that day on the subject of procuring a home for the Osages in the Cherokee country. [44] On the same day Adair and Vann replied that it was their desire to accommodate their unfortunate brethren, the Osages, so far as they possibly could, but that their commissions expired at the termination of the late Osage council, called at the suggestion of the Interior Department. They stated that the matter of negotiating with the Osages was then engaging the official attention of the national council, and that it was to be hoped that it would soon be consummated with full satisfaction to all parties concerned. They asked that the delegation be patient until the national council should take legal action in the matter, which was of great importance to the Cherokees, the Osages and the government, and dispose of the same promptly and finally in a formal and business manner. [45] On the same day Principal Chief Downing explained that the matter of negotiating with the Osages had not been subjected to any unnecessary delay, although it might have had to yield to other business that had legitimate precedence. [46]

     The patience of the delegation was wearing


thin and after two weeks of fruitless effort to bring about a council with the Cherokees, they left Tahlequah.

     An act of the Cherokee national council approved December 1 provided for the appointment of five commissioners to meet commissioners representing each of the several bands of Osages on January 2, 1871, "at Lewis Choteau's on Cana Creek" for the purpose of selecting and locating a permanent home for the Osage tribe west of ninety-six degrees. The area of the tract should be equal to one hundred and sixty acres for each citizen of the Osage and Kaw tribes who might locate therein. The Cherokee commissioners were not authorized to agree upon a smaller price for the lands than one dollar and a quarter an acre. [47]

     On December 3, 1870, a copy of the act was sent to Agent Gibson at Montgomery, Kan. In a letter to Principal Chief Downing on December 16 he observed that the act did riot authorize negotiations for Cherokee lands east of the ninety-sixth meridian, and that it also deprived the Osages from choosing their home from any Cherokee lands they might desire, west of that meridian, when taken in compact form. He set forth how faithfully the Osages and he had labored to bring about an agreement with the Cherokees, how at much expense, in poor quarters and amid disagreeable surroundings the delegation had remained two weeks in Tahlequah. He stated that friendship and brotherly love would certainly have prevailed but for a failure for which the Osages and he did not feel responsible. He explained that the Osages were scattered over the plains and that it would be impossible for them to hold a council with the Cherokees before spring. "Knowing as I do, somewhat of the feelings of both tribes on this subject," he said, "such a council, with your commissioners, under the limitations, and instructions of that Act, is an occasion to be avoided." He said that the offer of the Osages was twenty-five cents an acre for the tract they had selected; and that he deemed it of the utmost importance to both tribes that the disagreement between them should be submitted at once to the President as provided in the Cherokee treaty of 1866. [48]


     On the same day Gibson addressed a statement of sixteen pages to Commissioner Parker in which he favorably reviewed for the Osages, their recent relations with the Cherokees. [49]

     He recommended that the matter of securing a reservation for the Osages be submitted to the President, and that the selection they had made be confirmed to them. He did not fail to say that they had been assured by the President's commissioners that they would not have to pay more than fifty cents per acre for the lands selected west of ninety-six degrees; and that it was with this understanding that they had agreed on September 10 to remove to the Indian territory.

     A sketch map which he enclosed with the statement showed the rectangular tract of land selected by the Osages to be equally divided by the ninety-sixth meridian as determined by the special survey, so that it included a strip eight and one third miles wide, extending from Kansas to the Creek country, east of said meridian as then determined.

     In explaining why the Osages had selected one half of their lands east of the ninety-sixth meridian as then surveyed, Gibson said that the desirable agricultural land in the region west of that line was limited to a strip about three miles wide and sixty miles long, contiguous to the line. This small quantity of land, "in a string shape," was deemed insufficient by them. Gibson stated that the next eight and one third miles just west of the lands selected by the Osages was not worth five cents an acre for agricultural purposes. He said that it would be a misfortune for the Osages to receive it as a gift, compared to their securing the same number of acres east of the ninety-sixth meridian at a cost of five dollars an acre. Gibson continued:

The contrast between the surface of the country on the two sides of said line, is remarkable. On the West, the land rises from 200 to 500 feet, above the Cana River, and continues broken and rocky, and comparatively valueless, westward, to the Arkansas River. This broken range also continues South, parallel with said line, to the Arkansas River. The face of the country Southwest is of the same character. In exploring this wilderness, I have not found it possible to penetrate its recesses with a wagon, though it is said a California train many years ago, cut its way through these terrible passes to the Arkansas River, but there is no account of any one since, having the hardihood to repeat the undertaking. . . . The scenery is indeed wild, and grand, but certainly, it is not a fit place to settle wild Indians, and presume on Divine assistance in effecting their civilization. If educated white men were located here, the life they would be compelled to lead, would certainly lead them to barbarism, and starvation. Such is, unquestionably, the general character of the country

between 96 and the Arkansas River, as I have found it by personal examination, and from the testimony of scores of Osages, who know it well, and also from other Indians, and white men, who traversed it during the war. [50]

     The surface East of 96, is a beautiful plain, rising gradually, from the Cana River to the dividing line between that river and the Verdigris; nearly every acre is plough-land and productive, small creeks, for stock water, occur at regular intervals, . . . with narrow belts of timber, though not enough for building and fencing purposes; this supply properly comes from the heavy timber, on the Cana, which . . . lies mostly west of 96; hence the natural appearance of the country, strikes the observer, at once, that the land lying contiguous to 96, should belong to the same people.

     On January 12, 1871, Gibson wrote that the Osages must have one half of their reservation east of the ninety-sixth meridian, if money could buy it.

     On January 31 Commissioner Parker reviewed the petition addressed to the President by the Osages and presented by them to the President's commissioners on September 10, 1870. He observed that the Cherokee treaty of 1866 and the act of July 15, 1870, made provision for the quantity of land which the Osages should be allowed to purchase (being one hundred and sixty acres for each member of the tribe) and that no authority of law existed for allowing an increase in the quantity thereof. He considered the quantity provided for to be sufficient for all the reasonable wants or requirements of the Osages. He saw no objection to their request that they be allowed to hold their lands in common or to their request to hunt buffalo on public lands of the United States, and he recommended that both requests be granted. In his judgment the existing statutory provisions 52 afforded ample authority to guarantee security and protection to the Indians against intruders. He deemed the claim of the Osages for compensation, in some substantial form, for the loss of the "school sections" in Kansas to be eminently just and proper, and he recommended that Congress be asked to give the matter favorable consideration. [53]

     On January 28 Parker requested the Cherokee delegation in Washington to submit to the Office of Indian Affairs at as early day


as possible such objections, if any, as they might deem proper to present to the selection of reservations for the Osages and Kaws, a. portion of the lands embraced in the same to be east of ninety-six degrees, in the Cherokee country. [54] In a reply on February 2 the delegation quoted from their instructions, given by the Cherokee national council under date of December 14, 1870, stating that they were without authority to limit, cede or dispose of, any part of the domain of the Cherokee nation east of ninety-six degrees, or to admit or incorporate any Indians therein, without the approval of the national council. They called attention to the fact that they were instructed to provide for the extension of the western boundary of the Cherokee reserved lands, so as to include east of said boundary all Cherokees, and recognized citizens of the Cherokee nation. Article fifteen of the Cherokee treaty of 1866 provided for the settlement of "civilized" Indians on Cherokee lands east of ninety-six degrees. The delegation stated that it was well known that neither the Osages nor Kaws were "civilized" but were known as "blanket Indians" who lived by the chase, and hence did not come within the class of Indians designated in the article. They endeavored to show that the article provided that settlement should be made as whole tribes or as individuals and not as fractions of tribes.

     In their opinion article sixteen of the treaty did not authorize the cutting in two of Indian tribes by the line of ninety-six degrees in settling them upon Cherokee lands. They noted that if the survey of that line when "properly made" should cut in two, lands assigned to the Osages and Kaws, the political situation for these tribes would be embarrassing. The delegation also said:

     The Cherokees have reluctantly yielded to a painful necessity in assenting to sell their lands as far east as 96°, and are strongly opposed to making any further cessions. They would en mass sharply oppose any such location of the Osage and Kansas Tribes as you have suggested, and the enforcement upon them of any such arrangement, at once so impalatable and so unexpected would almost unavoidably result in a ruption of the present friendly relations between the C/herokees and these Tribes.

     The delegation observed that article fifteen of the treaty of 1866 provided for the settlement of Indians, "friendly with the Cherokees," east of the ninety-sixth meridian. They stated that since 1868 the Osages had frequently appealed to the Cherokees to let them have the country on both sides of the "upper Cana river," believed to be east of ninety-six degrees; and that when the Osages


were informed at their council at Montgomery in August, 1870, that the line was east of said part of the river, they expressed great satisfaction that it had been so determined. It was also noted that the Osage petition of September 10 following had made no mention of securing lands east of ninety-six degrees. In conclusion the delegation remarked:

     We are personally acquainted with many of the leading men and chiefs of the Osages, and have never heard them express any dissatisfaction at the idea of settling west of 96°, but from the agent of the Osages, we have heard much argument in his efforts to show that the location west of 96° would be unsuitable for the future home of the Osages, according to his theories. [55]

     On February 16 Commissioner Parker outlined the history of the controversy relative to settling the Osages and Kaws on Cherokee lands on both sides of the ninety-sixth meridian. He recommended (in case the Secretary of the Interior and the President were of the opinion that authority existed therefor under the provisions of the Cherokee treaty of 1866) that the location of the two tribes upon the tract of country selected and desired by them for their future homes, be approved, and that the price to be paid by them to the Cherokees therefor, be fixed by the President at twenty-five cents per acre, and further, that an executive order be issued authorizing the Office of Indian Affairs to have such tracts set off and assigned to the Osage and Kaw tribes, the boundaries thereof distinctly designated, and the price to be fixed thereon named. He further recommended that the sum of twenty-five cents per acre be fixed as the uniform price for all the Cherokee lands west of the ninety-sixth meridian. [56]

     Secretary Delano on February 24 set forth the conclusion that according to the Cherokee treaty of 1866 none but civilized Indians could lawfully settle within the Cherokee country east of the ninety-sixth meridian, and that the Osages, "not falling within that description," could not lawfully settle there. According to article sixteen of the treaty he said it would seem that a district of Cherokee country west of the said meridian to be occupied by a tribe of Indians, must be distinctly marked and set apart before the President could determine the price of the lands included therein, under the provisions of the article. [57] The next day Commissioner Parker advised Superintendent Hoag of the conclusion set forth by Delano,


but stated that any selection by the Osages of Cherokee lands, west of the ninety-sixth meridian, to the extent and in the manner provided by law would be approved. [58]

     An article succeeding this one will explain how the location of the ninety-sixth meridian caused commotion among the Osages and Cherokees, how President Grant settled the disputed price of lands, and how the Osages secured a reservation on the southern border of Kansas.

(To be concluded in the November Quarterly.)


1. 7 Statutes, 240; Kappler, Indian Affairs, Laws and Treaties, v. II, pp. 217-221. There were three bands consisting of the Great Osage, Little Osage, and the Arkansas band. This division is comparatively modern.-Hodge, Handbook of American Indians, Pt. II, p. 156.
2. Annie H. Abel, "Indian Reservations in Kansas and the Extinguishment of Their Title," Kansas Historical Collections, v. VIII (1904), pp. 76-77, and map opposite p. 88.
3. 14 Statutes, 687. Royce, Indian Land Cessions, pp. 836-837; map 26.
4. 14 Statutes, 799; Kappler, v. II, pp. 942-950. Article fifteen of the treaty follows:
"The United States may settle any civilized Indians, friendly with the Cherokees and adjacent tribes, within the Cherokee country, on unoccupied lands east of 96°, on such terms as may be agreed upon by any such tribe and the Cherokees, subject to the approval of the President of the United States, which shall be consistent with the following provisions, viz.: Should any such tribe or band of Indians settling in said country abandon their tribal organization, there being first paid into the Cherokee national fund a sum of money which shall sustain the same proportion to the then existing national fund that the number of Indians sustain to the whole number of Cherokees then residing in the Cherokee country, they shall be incorporated into and ever after remain a part of the Cherokee nation, on equal terms in every respect with native citizens. And should any such tribe, thus settling in said country, decide to preserve their tribal organizations, and to maintain their tribal laws, customs, and usages, not inconsistent with the constitution and laws of the Cherokee nation, they shall have a district of country set off for their use by metes and bounds equal to one hundred and sixty acres, if they should so decide, for each man, woman, and child of said tribe, and shall pay for the same into the national fund such price as may be agreed on by them and the Cherokee nation, subject to the approval of the President of the United States, and in cases of disagreement the price to be fixed by the President.
"And the said tribe thus settled shall also pay into the national fund a sum of money, to be agreed on by the respective parties, not greater in proportion to the whole existing national fund and the probable proceeds of the lands herein ceded or authorized to be ceded or sold than their numbers bear to the whole number of Cherokees then residing in said country, and thence afterwards they shall enjoy all the rights of native Cherokees. But no Indians who have no tribal organizations, or who shall determine to abandon their tribal organizations, shall be permitted to settle east of the 96 degrees of longitude without the consent of the Cherokee national council, or of a delegation duly appointed by it, being first obtained. And no Indians who have and determine to preserve their tribal organizations shall be permitted to settle, as herein provided, east of the 96 degrees of longitude without such consent being first obtained, unless the President of the United States, after a full hearing of the objections offered by said council or delegation to such settlement, shall determine that the objections are insufficient, in which case he may authorize the settlement of such tribe east of the 96° of longitude."
5. Secretaries Teller and Noble and Chief Joel B. Mayes were agreed upon this construction. See Senate Executive Documents, 48 Cong., 2 Sess., v. I (2261), No. 17, p. 5;
6. ibid., 51 Cong., I Sess., v. IX (2686), No. 78, p. 11; Mayes to Commissioner of Indian Affairs, July 23, 1889, OIA (Office of Indian Affairs), 6227 Ind. Div. 1889.
6. B. B. Chapman, How the Cherokees Acquired the Outlet," Chronicles of Oklahoma, v. XV (1937), pp. 30-49. r 7. The treaty is in House Reports, 40 Cong., 2 Sess., v. II (1358), No. 63, pp. 14-23.
8. Agent G. C. Snow to Com. E. S. Parker, July 24, 1869, Indian Affairs, 1869, p. 381. The treaty of September 29, 1865, referred to the Osages as "greatly impoverished." Three years later they were on the verge of starvation. Capt. M. V. Sheridan to Maj. Gen. P. H. Sheridan, December 1, 1868, Senate Executive Documents, 40 Cong., 3 Sess., (1360) No. 41. In 1869 Vincent Colyer, a special Indian commissioner, found them "in a state of almost complete destitution." Report for 1869, House Executive Documents, 41 Cong., 2 Sess., v. III (1414), p. 513.
Conditions in Kansas were apparently becoming intolerable for the Osages. Their crops were destroyed by herds of cattle and other stock belonging to white settlers; and lawless white men stole their horses and robbed their corn cribs. Agent I.T. Gibson to Enoch Hoag, October 1, 1870; the letter is in Indian Affairs, 1871, pp. 483-489. Hoag to Commissioner Parker, October 8, 1870, ibid., 1870, pp. 258-259.
9. Same to same, October 11, 1869, OIA, Neosho, H. 538-1869.
10. The letters are in H. Ex. Docs., 41 Cong., 2 Sess., v. VII (1418), No. 179, pp. 3-5. On February 2, 1870, Gibson urged 'that the government make some provision for the protection of the Osages, or remove them to a new home.-Gibson to Hoag, ibid., p. 6.
11. The recommendation is in OIA, Cent. Supt., H. 771-1870.
12. Parker to Sec. J. D. Cox, March 3, 1870, H. Ex. Docs., loc. cit., pp. 1-2.
13. Gibson to Hoag, March 8, 1870, OIA, Neosho, I. 1133-1870.
14. Parker to Cox, March 29, 1870, OIA,. "Report Book 19," p. 276.
15. Cox to Com. Ind. Aff., April 2, 1870, OIA, "Letters Indian Affairs," v. 17, Pt. I, pp. 95-96.
16. Parker to Hoag, April 5, 1870, OIA, "Finance and Misc. Letter Book 95," p. 87. 17. Hoag to Parker, June 7, 1870, OIA, Neosho, H. 1171-1870.
18. Joseph Pah-ne-no-posh to Gibson, May 20, 1870, ibid.
19. Act. Com. W. F. Cady to Sec. Int., June 20, 1870, OIA, "Rept. Book 19," pp. 407-408.
20. 16 Statutes, 362.
21. Parker to Secretary of the Interior, July 19, 1870, Report of Board of Indian Commissioners, 1870, p. 72. The report of the board for 1870 is also in S. Ex. Docs., 41 Cong., 8 Sess., v. 1 (1440), No. 39.
22. Cox to Colyer, July 22, 1870, Rpt. of Bd. of Indian Commissioners, 1870, p. 72.
23. Cady to Farwell et al., August 2, 1870, ibid., p. 73.
24. Cady to Hoag, July 22, 1870, ibid., p. 73. Hoag was directed to instruct Agent Gibson to proceed to the Cherokee country as soon as practicable and there select and mark out the country to which it was intended to remove the Osages, and to make such preparations as might be requisite for the establishment of these Indians comfortably in their new homes.
25. Cady to Hoag, August 6, 1870, OIA, "Land and Civilization Letter Book 96," pp. 466-467.
26. Parker to Colyer and Lang, August 11, 1870, Rpt. of Bd. of Indian Commissioners, 1870, p. 73.
27. Parker to Hoag, August 11, 1870, ibid., p. 74.
28. Report of the commission, ibid., p. 18.
29. Act. Com. H. R. Clum to A. H. Perry, January 7, 1871, OIA, "Finance and Misc. Letter Book 99," pp. 21-22.
30. After the commission left the reservation the attitude of the "community" is explained by the following remark: "The Osages have signed the bill, and we have got the land; let the half-breeds go to h--1."-Gibson to Colyer, December 24, 1870, Rpt. of Bd. of Indian Commissioners, 1870, pp. 83-84. See, also, the protest of the commission made about the same time, ibid., pp. 27-29.
31. From "various causes beyond the control" of the Cherokee commissioners named in Acting Commissioner Cady's letter of August 6, only Vann was at the Osage agency at this time; and no council between the Osage chiefs and the Cherokee commissioners took place. See the extract from the message of Prin. Chief Lewis Downing, November 19, 1870, OIA, Cent. Supt., H. 47-1871.
32. Report of the commission, loc. cit., p. 20.
33. The proceedings of the councils held on September 10 and 12, 1870, are in ibid., pp. 77-82.
34. The petition is in ibid., pp. 85-86.
35. The act as accepted and signed is in ibid., pp. 76-77.
36. Ibid., p. 4.
37. Gibson to Hoag, October 1, 1871, Indian Affairs, 1871, pp. 489-490.
38. Hoag to H. R. Clum, October 5, 1871, ibid., pp. 464-465.
39. Gibson to Com. E. S. Parker, December 20, 1870, OIA, Cent. Supt., H. 47-1871. The Kaws were about seven hundred in number. In the vicinity of Council Grove they had a diminished reserve of some 80,000 acres, while their "trust lands" adjoining the reserve totaled more than 137,000 acres. The Kaws were well pleased with the selection of land in the northern part of the Osage tract. Agent Mahlon Stubbs thought it would be difficult to obtain their consent to remove farther into Indian territory.-Stubbs to Hoag, September 14, 1871, Indian Affairs, 1871, p. 495; Hoag to Com. F. A. Walker, December 23, 1871, OIA, Kan., H. 963-1871.
40. Vann to Gibson, August 12, 1870; there is a copy of the letter in OIA, Cent. Supt., H. 47-1871.
41. Downing to Vann, October 22, 1870; there is a copy of the letter in ibid.
42. Mr. David Parsons found in Agent Gibson's papers the "Minutes of Osage Council appointing Del. to Cherokee Nation," dated October 26, 1870. The minutes were written on the unused parts of a letter. A photostat copy is in the Osage museum at Pawhuska, Okla. Mr. Parsons is preparing an exhaustive history of the Osages during the period of their removal from Kansas.
43. Gibson et al. to Cherokee national council, November 18, 1870; there is a copy of the letter in OIA, Cent. Supt., H. 47-1871.
44. Gibson to W. P. Adair et al., November 30, 1870; there is a copy of the letter in ibid.
45. Adair and Vann to Gibson, November 30, 1870; there is a copy of the letter in ibid., 46. Downing to Gibson, November 30, 1870; there is a copy of the letter in ibid.
47. There is a copy of the act, approved December 1, 1870, in ibid..
48. Gibson to Downing
, December 16, 1870; there is a copy of the letter in ibid.

     On December 5, the day after he returned to Montgomery from Tahlequah, Gibson wrote to Hoag as follows: "The Osage delegation is sorely disgusted with the heartless avarice and duplicity of the Cherokees and I am ready to make war on their Government in a peaceable manner. They are desperately civilized, know how to raise corn and other feed about as well as the Osages do, but they are utterly unfit to carry on a Government and the sooner the U. S. Government takes the starch out of them the better it will be for their civilization and for affiliated and neighboring tribes of Indians. It is their meanness that has prevented me having Mills, Agency Buildings and other necessary work completed or in a fair state of progress before winter.
--Letter of December 5, 1870, OIA, Neosho, H. 16681870.
49. The statement is in OIA, Cent. Supt., H. 47-1871. Gibson also enclosed a copy of the correspondence between the Cherokees and Osages in regard to entering into negotiations for lands selected by the Osages.
50. A more favorable description of the lands between the ninety-sixth meridian and the Arkansas was given in the report by Agt. L. J. Miles to Com. Ind. Aff., August 11, 1883, Indian Affairs, 188.3, p. 73. The Osage allotting commission found the Osage reservation to be about forty percent "prairie and river bottom agricultural land," forty percent "very fine pasture land" and twenty percent "rough waste land."-C. E. McChesney to Com. Ind. Aff., March 31, 1909, OIA, 25231-1909-313 Osage.
51. Gibson to Vincent Colyer, Rpt. of. Bd. of Ind. Commissioners, 1870, pp. 84-85. Gibson said that the Cherokees had dodged around in a most aggravating way and had annoyed the Osages and him "about this land beyond ordinary endurance."
52. 4 Statutes, 729; 11 Statutes, 332.
53. Parker to Sec. Int., January 31, 1871, H. Ex. Docs., 41 Cong., 3
Sess., v. MI (1460), No. 131, pp. 2-4.
54. Parker to W. P. Adair, January 28, 1871, OIA, (Large) "Letter Book 100," pp. 151-152.
55. Lewis Downing et al., to Parker, February 2, 1871, OIA, Cent. Supt., D. 35-1871.
56. Parker to Sec. Int., February 16, 1871, OIA, "Report Book 20," pp. 206-213.
57. Delano to Sen. James Harlan, February 24, 1871, OIA, Ind. Div., "Letters Indian Affairs," v. 18, Pt. I, pp. 119-126. Delano to Coin. Ind. Aff., February 24, 1871, OIA, Cherokee, I. 158-1871. The Osages at that time were "tribal Indians and not highly civilized." Sue M. Rogers v. The Osage Nation, 45 Ct. Cls. 388 (1010).
58. Telegram from Parker to Hoag, February 25, 1871, OIA, (Large) "Letter Book 100," p. 272.

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