This is a highly detailed map of the Indian Territory, reflecting the status of lands allocated to thirty-two Indian tribes in what is now Oklahoma. Detail is extensive, focusing mainly on the boundaries between nations but also showing rivers, railroads, forts, settlements, topography, and more.
Tribal lands are named, colored-coded, and the map includes legal references to the treaties that relocated the tribes. The map is among the first to designate the emerging territory of Oklahoma.
The map represents a fascinating small part in the history of George Catlin's Indian Gallery, a collection of portraits of Native Americans now found in the Smithsonian. This map first appeared in 1885 issue of the Annual Report of the Board of Regents of the Smithsonian Institution, written by the lawyer Thomas Donaldson. This latter was instrumental in bringing Catlin's Indian Gallery and collection to the Smithsonian after the artist's death. The collection was exhibited and then published, first in the Smithsonian Report of 1885 and then in a separate publication of 1886, which was reissued in 1887. The report included two large folding maps, one on Indian reservations, and the present map illustrating the federal allocation of Indian lands in the Indian Territory.
The federal government's policy of Indian relocation began as early as 1817 and in the years following, many principal Eastern Indian tribes were removed. A group then-known as the "Five Civilized Tribes" occupied large swaths of the greater South region, but they would be relocated to Oklahoma starting with the 1830 Indian Removal Act. By 1885, however, representatives of about fifty tribes had settled on lands once promised to the original five. The map offered here reflects these allocations. The Oklahoma panhandle, which at this time consisted of "Public Lands," is not shown.