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Pale Horse Revelations #12 - Indian Territory

Hello readers and welcome back to Pale Horse Revelations where we explore the historical elements of my debut novel "Behold a Pale Horse: The Legend of the Pale Rider Part I." In this week's edition we'll take a little deeper look at Indian Territory, (SPOILER ALERT - If you haven't finished the book, proceed with caution). This a fairly important location in the novel. It's where Bean's and Garrison finally manage to mend what had become a fractured friendship. It's also where Dickens, Pete, and Jumbo betray Garrison and attempt to claim the reward for his capture. Given the significance of the location in the story, I thought it would be worth a closer inspection.

Indian Territory was the land that the U.S. government set aside for the relocation of Native American tribes. The original boundaries were established by the Indian Intercourse Act in 1834. It was located in the central United States. Its borders were established by various treaties with the individual tribes.

Over time it borders continually shrank as white settlers continued to poor into the area. Once the homesteader population reached a set number, they could apply for territory status and then eventually statehood. This process began almost immediately after the creation of Indian Territory. In 1836 the lands east of the Mississippi and between the Mississippi and Missouri rivers became Wisconsion Territory. Wisconsion was granted statehood in 1848.

By the time our story takes place Indian Territory had been reduced to what is now present-day Oklahoma. These boundaries were established by the Kansas-Nebraska Act in 1854. It was occupied by The Five Civilized Tribes (Cherokee, Chickasaw, Choctaw, Muscogee Creeks, and Seminole), as well as several Plains Tribes. The Five Civilized Tribes were the most prominent tribes forced to relocate to this territory on the infamous Trail of Tears. Other tribes forced to relocate included the Delaware, Cheynne, and Apache.

The majority of Native Americans in the Indian Territory sided with the Confederacy during the American Civil War. In fact, a confederate commander of the Creek Nation, Brigadier General Stand Watie, was the last Confederate general to surrender in 1865. After the war, the treaties were rewritten by the U.S. government and land taken from The Five Civilized Tribes to be used to resettle the Plains Indians and tribes from the mid-west.

In addition to being home to dozens of Native American tribes, Indian Territory was also a popular hiding place for outlaws both notorious and mundane. While the tribes had their own courts and police, they had no jurisdiction over cases that involved non-Native Americans. This made the territory an ideal place for wanted men to hideout. Deputy Marshalls from Fort Smith, Arkansas, were sent to hunt down these outlaws, but with 74,000 square miles of territory they had their work cut out for them.

I hope you have enjoyed this brief look at Indian Territory. As usual, I have tried to provide some interesting background information that may enhance your reading experience while trying not to bog the casual reader down with too much detail. I encourage anyone interested in learning more to dig in and do a little research of their own.

As a reminder, I would love to hear from you, my readers, about topics related to the Old West that you would like to know more about. All you need to do is fill out the Contact form found near the bottom of my home page ( and indicate your suggested topic in the message box at the bottom of the form. I look forward to hearing from you all.

Please be sure to check back next week for the next installment of Pale Horse Revelations and thank you for your continued interest and support

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