Isparhecher

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Isparhecher
Born Isparhecher
1829
Alabama
Died December 22, 1902
Indian Territory
Nationality Muscogee Creek
Other names Is-pa-he-che, Spa-he-cha
Occupation farmer, political activist

Isparhecher, also known as Is-pa-he-che and Spa-he-cha, was a full-blood Creek Indian who was born in Alabama in 1829 to full-blood Creek parents. The family belonged to the Lower Creeks (a.k.a., McIntosh faction) and removed to Indian Territory in the early 1830s, where they settled on a farm at Cussetah town, about 7 miles (11 km) southeast of the present city of Okmulgee, Oklahoma[1] He joined the Confederate army in 1861, then switched his allegiance to the Union Army in 1863, He became a significant player in post Civil War Creek politics until his death in 1902. After the war, he initially supported the recognized Creek government, and its principal chief, Samuel Checote. Then his political views changed and he joined the opposition, which consisted of traditional full-blood Creeks that rejected what they considered the customs and laws of white men. That group formed a rival Creek government based in the town of Nuyaka, led first by Locha Harjo, then by Isparhecher. The rival group was defeated in a skirmish with the Checote militia, led by Pleasant Porter, in 1883.

Personal life[edit]

Isparhecher was born in Alabama in 1829 to full-blood Creek parents, Yar-de-ka Tus-tan-nug-ga and his wife Ke-char-te. The family belonged to the Lower Creeks (a.k.a., McIntosh faction) and removed to Indian Territory in the early 1830s. They settled on a farm at Cussetah town, about 7 miles (11 km) southeast of the present city of Okmulgee, Oklahoma[1] He became a significant player in post Civil War Creek politics until his death in 1902.

Little has been written about his early years, following the move to Indian Territory except that the parents died early. He is said to have become a farmer and stockman.[1]

Sometime prior to the Civil War, he married a woman named Polikissut, who bore him a son named Washington. He married Lucy Barnett and had four children by her. His third wife was Alma Harrover, who he married in Washington D.C. on June 4, 1884. They divorced November 28, 1891. His last wife was a woman 36 years younger than himself, Cindoche Sixkiller, on March 26, 1896. She outlived her husband and died June 14, 1931.[2]

Adult career[edit]

Civil War service[edit]

Isparhecher enlisted for a one-year term in the Confederate Army on August 17, 1861, becoming 4th Sergeant in Company K of the 1st Regiment of Creek Mounted Volunteers. D. N. McIntosh was the company commander and the unit was attached to a brigade led by Col. D. H. Cooper. However, he did not seem to take his military service seriously, since muster rolls indicate he was absent from August 19, 1861 until August 17, 1862. After that date, he appeared on every muster roll until December 1, 1862. He did not report again after that.[1]

After the Union army began to wrest control of the Indian Territory from the Confederates in 1863, many Indians deemed it prudent to change sides. Isparhecher was one of these. He went to Fort Gibson, where he volunteered to join Company K in the 1st Regiment of Indian Home Guards, Kansas Infantry in the Union Army. He became a more reliable soldier, as he missed only one muster roll until he was honorably discharged at Fort Gibson on May 31, 1865. Meanwhile, he had seen combat at Barren Forks and been promoted to Sergeant on March 12, 1864.[1]

Post War activities[edit]

Isparhecher went home to resume civilian life as a farmer after he was mustered out of the Union army. But he also became active in Creek political life. He became a member of the Creek House of Warriors in 1867. In October 1867, he was a member of the Creek National Council which created a new constitution as the framework for a new tribal government. He served as the Muscogee district judge from 1872 – 74. When his judicial appointment expired, he moved his home from Cussetah to a farm near the present town of Beggs, Oklahoma. He was named trustee of the Salt Creek School in 1874–75. In 1877, he was appointed as principal judge of the Okmulgee district.[1]

A group of full-blood Creeks led by Lochar Harjo had settled in the vicinity of Nuyaka, a few miles west of Okmulgee. Most of these had been loyal to the Union side in the Civil War and wanted to continue their traditional way of life. They rejected the authority of the new Creek government and the constitution of 1867. As time passed, the group became more assertive, refusing to send representatives to the national government, refusing to obey laws passed by the Okmulgee government, and even began to form their own government structure in Nuyaka. After moving to the Beggs area, Isparhecher began to cultivate the political support of the Nuyaka Creek faction. Even while he was a judge in Okmulgee, he began arguing that the constitution was unsuited to the Creeks traditional way of living and therefore was not binding. The Checote supporters impeached Isparhecher and removed him from office. As far as the Nuyaka Creeks were concerned, Isparhecher replaced the recently deceased Lochar Harjo their principal chief.[1]

Isparhecher immediately began traveling throughout the Creek Nation to rally support from other full-blood Creeks. He even sought support from Seminoles and Cherokees. In 1882, after hearing that a band of Cherokees under Sleeping Rabbit might come to support the Nuyakans, Checote then ordered the Creek light horsemen under William Robison and Thomas Adams to stop the Nuyaka campaign. Checote's troops captured one Nuyaka light horseman, but his companions rescued him and killed two Checote men.[1]

Checote then summoned Pleasant Porter home from Washington D.C., and put him in charge of the light horsemen. In February 1883, the Nuyaka forces were defeated by the Checote forces in an armed skirmish in a peach orchard. The action was thereafter known as the "Peach Orchard War."[3][4] Porter's men pursued the Nuyaka men as they fled west through the Sac and Fox territory. Then, Porter's troops turned around and went back to Okmulgee.[1]

The Nuyaka men, accompanied by their families, moved on to Anadarko, where they sought refuge among the Kiowa tribe. Isparhecher was not with them because he had gone to meet with some Cheokees, seeking their support. The Federal Government intervened, arrested the fugitives and delivered them to Fort Gibson. A U,S. Government commission came to meet with representatives of both Creek factions at Muskogee to resolve the dispute amicably. Checote resigned as Principal Chief and called for a new election to choose his replacement. The election developed into a contest between Isparhecher and Joseph Perryman, a member of the Checote party. The election on September 3, 1883, was apparently very close. Isparhecher felt he had won and served as principal chief briefly during December 1883. However, the Secretary of the Interior ruled that Perryman had actually won the vote count and was rightfully the principal chief. The Perryman government named Isparhecher its representative in Washington, D. C. and paid him for losses of his property and other expenses during the insurrection.[1]

Death[edit]

Chief Isparhecher died December 22, 1902. He was buried in the Isparhecher family cemetery in Okmulgee County, Oklahoma.[2]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j John Bartlett Meserve. Chronicles of Oklahoma. Vol. 10, No. 1, March 1932. "Chief Isparhecher." Retrieved April 24, 2013.[1]
  2. ^ a b [2] Find-a grave memorial. "Chief Isparhecher." Retrieved April 24, 2013.
  3. ^ Ricky, Donald B. "Indians of Oklahoma." Isparhecher." (1999) ISBN 0-403-09865-3. Available on Google Books.[3]
  4. ^ Ricky, Donald B. Encyclopedia of Mississippi Indians:Tribes, Natives, Treaties. ISBN 0-403-09978-9. (2000) Available on Google Books.[4]

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