An effort that was not supported by the Chickasaw Nation

In early 1905, James Norman, a Cherokee, began a separate statehood movement for Indian Territory. Until that time most tribes had opposed all attempts at statehood of any kind. However, by 1905, the tribes knew that based on the Curtis Act, all tribal governments would end on March 4, 1906. The tribes had to come up with a plan.

They envisioned a state to the east for the tribes and another to the west for everyone else. They proposed to name the new Indian state Sequoyah after the inventor of the Cherokee alphabet.

This effort was supported by the tribal chiefs of the Five Civilized Tribes, chiefs of several other nations, and leading intellectuals, with one notable exception: Chickasaw Governor Douglas H. Johnston, who thought the plan was too little too late.

Johnston expected single statehood would come. He sent William “Alfalfa Bill” Murray, attorney for the Chickasaws and future Oklahoma Governor, as the Chickasaw’s representative to this convention. Meetings were held at the Hinton Theater in Muscogee, Creek Nation in August and September 1905. On September 5, 1905, the constitution was sent for ratification. Out of 65,352 votes cast, 56,279 were in favor. However this effort was doomed; the U.S. Congress would not even consider it.

The plan had long-term effects: this constitution became the model for the later Oklahoma constitution, and Alfalfa Bill Murray later became the ninth elected governor of Oklahoma.