Charles Carter

The Enduring Spirit of the Chickasaw People

In the entire history of our country, there have only been 16 Native Americans elected to the United States Congress and one such representative was Chickasaw citizen Charles Carter. When Oklahoma became a state in 1907, Charles Carter began a 20-year career representing the people of Oklahoma in Washington, D.C., and his service to all Native Americans earned his place among Chickasaw Leaders and Legacies.

Born in 1868, he grew up in both Choctaw and Chickasaw Nations but would faithfully serve the Chickasaw Nation, state of Oklahoma and his fellow American citizens for decades. He was appointed as a mining trustee of Indian Territory by President William McKinley and held various roles in the Nation, from auditor of public accounts and the superintendent of schools to secretary of the first Democratic Party Executive Committee. After Oklahoma's transformation into statehood, Carter was the first person to represent Oklahoma’s Fourth District in the U.S. House of Representatives.

Charles Carter's popularity expanded beyond his constituents back home. He had widespread popularity in the nation's capital, and became Chair of the Committee on Indian Affairs where he could assert his voice on behalf of all Native Americans. Although Native Americans in Oklahoma held U.S. citizenship and suffrage rights afforded to all American citizens, many other Native Americans across the country did not. While serving as Chair of the Committee on Indian Affairs, he helped pass the landmark legislation of 1924 that granted citizenship to all Native Americans in the United States. Today, the Carter name lives on in southern Oklahoma's Carter County, where he called Ardmore home.