Sac and Fox Nation

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Sac and Fox Nation
Flag of the Sac & Fox Nation of Oklahoma.PNG
Tribal flag
Total population
Regions with significant populations
 United States ( Oklahoma)
English, Sauk
Drum Society, Native American Church,
and Christianity[2]
Related ethnic groups
Sac, Meskwaki, Kickapoo,
and other Algonquian peoples
Black Hawk and His Son Whirling Thunder, 1833. Portrait by John Wesley Jarvis. Oil painting in the Gilcrease Museum, Tulsa

The Sac and Fox Nation (Mesquakie language: Othâkîwaki / Thakiwaki or Sa ki wa ki) is the largest of three federally recognized tribes of Sauk and Meskwaki (Fox) Indian peoples. Originally from the Lake Huron and Lake Michigan area, they were forcibly relocated to Oklahoma in the 1870s and are predominantly Sauk.[2] The "Sac and Fox OTSA" is the land area in Oklahoma governed by the tribe.

The two other Sac and Fox tribes are the Sac and Fox Tribe of the Mississippi in Iowa and the Sac and Fox Nation of Missouri in Kansas and Nebraska. The Sac and Fox tribes have historically been closely allied, and continue to be in the present day. They speak very similar Algonquian languages, which are sometimes considered to be two dialects of the same language, rather than separate languages. Thakiwaki and Sa ki wa ki mean "people coming forth from the water".[2]


The Sac and Fox Nation is headquartered in Stroud, Oklahoma, and their tribal jurisdictional area covers Lincoln, Payne, and Pottawatomie counties. Their Principal Chief is Don Abney.[1] A council of five elected officials, each elected for a four-year term, govern the tribe. Elections are held in August in odd-numbered years.[2]

Of the 3,794 enrolled tribal members, 2,557 live in Oklahoma. Membership in the tribe requires a minimum 1/8 blood quantum, with proven descent to ancestors on recognized rolls.[1]

Economic development[edit]

The tribe's housing authority is located in Shawnee, Oklahoma. They issue their own tribal vehicle tags and operate eleven smoke shops and two casinos,[1] The Blackhawk Casino in Shawnee and the Sac and Fox Nation Casino in Stroud. The Stroud casino features the Center Sky Stage, a live entertainment venue.[3]


The Sac or Thakiwaki lived near Lake Huron and Lake Michigan at the time of European contact. In 1832 they participated in the Black Hawk War against the United States. Military leader Black Hawk remains a cultural hero today. After the war, the tribe relocated several times from Illinois to Iowa, Kansas, and finally Indian Territory in the 1870s.[2]

Their current lands were part of the larger, historical Sac and Fox Reservation of 1867–1891, which was 480,000 acres (1,900 km2) and established by the United States to provide land to the tribes.[2] But by the late 19th century, US policy changed again. Under the Dawes Act of 1887, these tribal land holdings were divided into 160-acre allotments for individual households, intended to encourage the Native Americans to establish subsistence farming according to the European-American cultural ways. Not only did the act not recognize Native American culture, but in many places in this arid land, the allotments were too small to be farmed successfully. Their land was allotted under a June 12, 1890 agreement with the Cherokee Commission. (Individual commissions were set up to manage the allotment of lands of various tribes in Native American Territory. Land remaining after the allotments was declared "surplus" by the US and sold, primarily to non-Natives.[4] Under the related Curtis Act of 1893, the tribal government and its institutions were dismantled.

The tribe was previously known as the Sac and Fox Tribe of Indians of the Mississippi River.[2] The Sac and Fox tribe had historically occupied large portions of Wisconsin, Iowa, and Missouri, which they gradually ceded to the US by treaties forced by European-American encroachment. By an October 11, 1842 treaty they removed out of the Midwest to a reservation in Kansas.[5]

By 1889 519 of the tribe were located in Indian Territory, what is now central Oklahoma.[6] On June 10, 1890, they ceded these Indian Territory lands to the federal government.[7]

Self-government re-established in 20th century[edit]

The administration of President Franklin D. Roosevelt established what was called an "Indian New Deal", passing a law to encourage tribes to re-establish self-government. The Oklahoma Indian Welfare Act of 1934 was passed by its legislature in a similar effort. In 1937, the Sac and Fox organized Under these laws and gained federal recognition as a tribe, with an independent relationship to the federal government. They have areas of tribal jurisdiction in Oklahoma, while no longer having a reservation.

Under their constitution, they established tribal membership as applying to everyone listed on the tribal Dawes Rolls and their descendants, as long as individuals had a minimum blood quantum of one-eighth Sac and Fox blood (equivalent to one great-grandparent). They recognize that descendants may be brought up as culturally Sac and Fox while having mixed ancestry.[8]

Late 20th century to present[edit]

The tribe has become increasingly active in asserting its sovereignty since the late 20th century. In 1983, the tribal government established its own system for registering vehicles and issuing license plates for tribal members. The state of Oklahoma tried to collect registration fees anyway, and the tribe sued. The US Supreme Court ruled in the tribe's favor of its independent sovereignty on May 17, 1993, in Oklahoma Tax Commission v. Sac & Fox Nation. Other tribes have since established their own systems for vehicle registration on tribal lands. The Sac and Fox Nation celebrate May 17 as "Victory Day."[2]

Tribal officials have concentrated on the federal management of trust land fees and environmental issues on their land that has been leased for oil production. On May 16, 1989, a tribal representative group that included Elmer Manatowa, Principal Chief; Truman Carter, Treasurer; William Rice, Attorney General; James L. Welsh III, Director of Real Estate; and Curtis Cunard, Petroleum Consultant, testified before the 101st Congress, Special Committee on Investigations of the Select Committee on Indian Affairs, United States Senate. The testimony examined the federal government's management of water and natural resources of the Sac and Fox Nation. They testified to the extensive surface damage and permanent contamination of the tribal drinking water, which was destroyed by waterflooding techniques and the injection well process used by the oil companies. These officers also testified to the lack of federal oversight and trust management responsibilities, including fraudulent real estate appraisals of their lands. This historic testimony by the tribe's representatives, the result of their internal investigations, revealed the extensive mismanagement of the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) and its failure in carrying out trust responsibilities.

This was one of a series of suits by tribes against the government on the financial management of trust land fees. As a result, the BIA has made significant trust management changes. Through the courts, the US and the Sac and Fox Nation came to historic financial settlements in compensation for some of the damage.[citation needed]

Notable members[edit]

Jim Thorpe, Sac and Fox Nation Olympic athlete

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d 2011 Oklahoma Indian Nations Pocket Pictorial Directory. Archived April 24, 2012, at the Wayback Machine Oklahoma Indian Affairs Commission. 2011: 31. Retrieved January 29, 2012.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h McCollum, Timothy James. "Sac and Fox." Archived October 27, 2014, at the Wayback Machine Oklahoma Historical Society's Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History and Culture. (retrieved April 12, 2010)
  3. ^ "Sac & Fox Casino Stroud." 500 Nations. (retrieved April 12, 2010)
  4. ^ Deloria Jr., Vine J; DeMaille, Raymond J (1999). Documents of American Indian Diplomacy Treaties, Agreements, and Conventions, 1775–1979. University of Oklahoma Press. pp. 323–326. ISBN 978-0-8061-3118-4.
  5. ^ United States Senate. (1890). Congressional Serial Set. "Executive Documents of the Senate of the U.S. First Session of the Fiftieth Congress". Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office. p. 8. Google Books. Retrieved 15 March 2020.
  6. ^ United States. Office of Indian Affairs. (1899). Annual Report of the Commissioner of Indian Affairs to the Secretary of the Interior for the Fiscal Year Ended ... Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office. pp. 199–201.Google Books. Retrieved 15 March 2020.
  7. ^ United States Senate. (1890). Congressional Serial Set. "Executive Documents of the Senate of the U.S. First Session of the Fiftieth Congress". Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office. pp. 16–21. Google Books. Retrieved 15 March 2020.
  8. ^ "Constitution." Sac and Fox Nation. (retrieved April 12, 2010)
  9. ^ Breslauer, Jan (February 20, 1996). "The Spirit Moves Him in New and Traditional Ways". Los Angeles Times.
  10. ^ Biography. Archived July 3, 2009, at the Wayback Machine Jim Thorpe: World's Greatest Athlete. Retrieved June 27, 2009.
  11. ^ Hearings (May 16, 1989). "Federal Government's relationship with the American Indians". U.S. Government Printing Office. U.S. Senate.
  12. ^ Hearings (May 16, 1989). "Federal Government's relationship with American Indians" (Part 9): 31–54. {{cite journal}}: Cite journal requires |journal= (help)

External links[edit]