THE HISTORY OF MUSKOGEE
Muskogee was born a railroad town like most towns of the great American West. But its roots run much deeper than the rails that were laid across the prairie. Its past reaches back to the native people who built their villages and burial mounds along the three rivers that come together just north of Muskogee. Here European and American explorers and fur traders would rendezvous and later build some of the West’s first trading posts.
Known as the Three Forks region, this area was the hub for the settlement and development of what became Indian Territory. One of the first and most important western military outposts was established at Fort Gibson. Here the Five Civilized Tribes arrived after their long trek from the southeast in one of America’s most poignant dramas known as the “Trail of Tears”. During the Civil War, Union troops including the First Kansas (Colored) Infantry occupied Fort Gibson and faced the cannons of the Cherokee Mounted Rifles at Confederate Fort Davis just across the Arkansas River.
When the Missouri-Kansas & Texas Railroad became the first rail line to cross Indian Territory in 1872, Muskogee was born. Named for the Creek Tribe, this dusty, raucous cow town rapidly grew into Indian Territory’s most important city when the U.S. government established the Union Agency for the Five Civilized Tribes in 1875. The government established a federal court here in 1889. The Dawes Commission to the Five Civilized Tribes was headquartered here to enroll the Indians and allot their land. It was in Muskogee that the Tribes gathered in 1905 to write a constitution for the State of Sequoyah. Muskogee was selected to be the capital of the “Indian State.”
Denied admission to the Union, Indian Territory then joined with Oklahoma Territory to form the great state of Oklahoma and Okie pride was born. Muskogee has grown with this uniquely American State to become one of its finest small cities. We’re proud of our town and we will gladly give you a wave and a welcome when you come to visit or to stay. Muskogee has a wealth of museums that showcase its rich history and proud heritage.