Five Civilized Tribes

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The Five Civilized Tribes is the term for five Native American nations which lived in the Southeastern United States before their removal. The nations are the Cherokee, Chickasaw, Choctaw, Creek and Seminole.

Members of the tribes tried to emulate white society, including owning African American slaves. They were divided during the American Civil War as to which side of the war to support. While the Choctaws and Chickasaws fought on the Confederate side, the Creeks, Seminoles and especially the Cherokees were split between the Union and the Confederacy. The Cherokee fought a civil war within their tribe between those who supported the Union and those who supported the Confederacy.

The tribes were uprooted from their homes east of the Mississippi River in a series of removals over several decades and moved to what was Indian Territory and is now the eastern portion of the state of Oklahoma.

Once the tribes had been relocated to Indian Territory, the United States government promised them that their lands would be free of white settlement. Of course, some settlers violated the agreement with impunity. In 1893, however, the government opened up the "Cherokee Strip" to white settlement by a great land run. And in 1907, the territories of Oklahoma and Indian Territory were merged into the new state of Oklahoma.

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