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Indian Territory Treasure Hunters Club
Tulsa, Oklahoma


Payments – Trials - Executions

The Five Civilized Tribes Nations in the Indian Territory each were divided in districts. Each district had a tribal district court house built in them. These courts would hold trials, have punishments that included whippings, hangings, & even firing squads, and payments to tribal members. Court sessions could last 1 to 3 weeks and most attending would camp in the area of the court house. Most of the payments to tribal members were made in cash & coin starting as early as the 1840’s. The exception seems to be the Chickasaws, they made a lot of their later payments by check.

The newspaper article below is about one payment made at one of these district court houses in the 1890’s. There was a total of $700,000.00 paid out at this site. There was a total of $6, 740,000.00 paid out over this Nation during this payment period, in todays money that would equate to over $200,000,000.00 allowing for inflation from the 1890’s time frame. Tribal members, including children, were paid over $250.00 each. Paymasters were accompanied by either a company (60 to 100) of well armed U.S. Cavalry or same type contingent of Tribal Militia.

And by the article there was quite the wild carnival type atmosphere and it could be about the same at court sessions & punishments. These payments could take from 1 to 4 weeks depending on the size of the district. Some like the Freedmen payments made at the Hayden, I. T. in the Cherokee Nation took almost 2 months to complete. The payment camps could range in size from 2000 to 5000 payees, again depending on size of the district. And remember the payees, vendors, & others would arrive by wagon, buggie, or horseback. Lots of horses & mules to feed and water. The camps could cover huge areas.

Thought some might like to see the article.

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