Kiamitia County

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Kiamitia County, also known as Kiamichi County, was a political subdivision of the Choctaw Nation of Indian Territory. The county formed part of the nation’s Pushmataha District, or Third District, one of three administrative super-regions.

The county seat of Kiamitia County was Goodland. This was the original settlement of Goodland, four miles north of present-day Hugo, Oklahoma. A United States Post Office operated at Goodland, Indian Territory from August 21, 1871 to February 28, 1902. The community centered at the county seat no longer exists. Modern Goodland is located three miles south of Hugo. A post office calling itself Goodland, Oklahoma, located in Goodland Indian Orphanage, operated there from April 5, 1915 to July 31, 1944.[1]

The spelling and rendering of the county’s official name appears to have been Kiamitia, reflecting the fact that the name of the Kiamichi River—for which it was named—was not standardized as such until the 20th century. The Choctaw Nation labeled the county as “Kiamitia” as did Angie Debo, its preeminent historian, who used the term in her epic 1934 work, The Rise and Fall of the Choctaw Republic. Edwin C. McReynolds, in his landmark 1965 Historical Atlas of Oklahoma, renders the spelling of the county as “Kiamichi”.

Kiamitia County’s boundaries were, as were all Choctaw counties, designated according to easily recognizable natural landmarks. Much of its northern boundary, south of Antlers, Oklahoma was formed by Dumpling Creek. Much of its western boundary was Middle Boggy Creek. Its eastern boundary, in part, was formed by the Kiamichi River and its southern boundary was the Red River.[2]

As Oklahoma’s statehood approached, its leading citizens, participating in the Oklahoma Constitutional Convention, realized in laying out the future state’s counties that Kiamitia County could not exist as an economically viable political subdivision. By the time of Oklahoma’s statehood in 1907 its county seat existed generally for holding county court, as well as for educational and religious purposes, and not as a population center. Hugo, by then the area’s largest town, was until statehood cut off from some of its natural economic hinterland, which fell within neighboring Red River County and Towson County of the Choctaw Nation.

This conundrum was also recognized by the framers of the proposed State of Sequoyah, who met in 1905 to propose statehood for the Indian Territory. The county structure proposed by the Sequoyah Constitutional Convention also abolished the Choctaw counties. Kiamitia County was generally kept as a unit, but was expanded to the east and west and called Hitchcock County. The proposed county seat for Hitchcock County was Hugo.

Much of this proposition was borrowed by Oklahoma’s framers, who largely adopted the proposed boundaries for Hitchcock County but called it Choctaw County, Oklahoma, establishing Hugo as its county seat.

Like all Choctaw counties, Kiamitia County served as an election district for members of the National Council, and as a unit of local administration. Constitutional officers, all of whom served for two-year terms and were elected by the voters, included the county judge, sheriff, and a ranger. The judge’s duties included oversight of overall county administration. The sheriff collected taxes, monitored unlawful intrusion by intruders (usually white Americans from the United States), and conducted the census. The county ranger advertised and sold strayed livestock.[3]

References[edit]

  1. ^ George H. Shirk, Oklahoma Place Names, p. 90.
  2. ^ Edwin C. McReynolds, Historical Atlas of Oklahoma, plate 38.
  3. ^ Angie Debo, Rise and Fall of the Choctaw Republic, p. 152.