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Before Bixby

Indian Territory

The earliest record of human activity in this part of Oklahoma dates back at least 12,000 years when nomadic hunters traveled the prairies and river bottoms. They hunted mammoth, large bison and mastodon. As these animals became extinct, the nomads adapted to hunting small game, such as deer, rabbits and birds, and to fishing. About 1,100 years ago, some nomads were settling near river systems, growing corn, beans and squash while living in permanent dwellings.

Common Indian names associated with the area are those of the Plains Indians, including the Wichita, Pawnee and Osage. They hunted in the rich Arkansas River bottom and on the plains to the south and west.

In 1803, the Louisiana Purchase made the land, now known as 'Oklahoma,' part of the United States. During the early 1800s, southeastern Indians, Creek, Cherokee, Choctaw, Chickasaw and Seminole, known as the Five Civilized Tribes, were relocated into Oklahoma, Indian Territory. The Creek Indians settled on land along the Arkansas River, part of which is, now, Bixby. The Creek Indian Tribe is, also, referred to as Muscogee and Muskogee Indians.

The Creek Indians came to Indian Territory in three major movements. They were settled into present day Okmulgee, Wagoner, Muskogee, McIntosh, Hughes, Creek, Okfuskee and Tulsa counties. Some of the first Creek Indians in the area were wealthy, progressive, artistic plantation owners. They were educated and advanced in agriculture. They brought with them their slaves, love of self-governance and religion. Fires from Creek ceremonial grounds in Alabama were relocated to the Broken Arrow, Concharty and Tulsey Town areas. Tulsey Town was a bluff overlooking the Arkansas River. All three religious sites were near the present day Bixby area.

In 1867, the Creek Indians formed the constitutional Muscogee Nation, with Okmulgee as the capital. They established a National Council consisting of two houses, House of Kings and House of Warriors. Their laws were enforced by the Light Horsemen who were Creek Indian marshals.

Boundaries for Indian Territory were at first uncertain. Later, they became the boundaries that enclose present day Oklahoma, excluding the Panhandle. However, the western two-thirds of Indian Territory was opened to non-Indian settlers in 1889.

The western two-thirds of Indian Territory was renamed Oklahoma Territory. It is said, the federal government made this adjustment, partially, to punish Indians who fought for the Confederate Army during the American Civil War.

As non-Indian settlers moved into Oklahoma Territory, they streamed into Indian Territory, as well. Since, non-Indians were not governed by Indian law, the U.S. Congress placed Indian Territory under the federal laws that governed Arkansas. A federal court was established at Muskogee, Oklahoma.

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