Okmulgee, Creek Nation, Indian Territory
|Known for||Principal Chief, Creek Nation|
Samuel Checote (1819–1884) was a full-blood Muskogee Creek Indian who was noted as a Methodist minister and as the first principal chief of the tribe after the Civil War. He was born in the Chattahoochee Valley near Fort Mitchell, Alabama. In 1829, he moved to Indian Territory (present-day Oklahoma), where he and his family settled near the present-day town of Okmulgee.
Samuel attended the Asbury Manual Labor School, near Fort Mitchell. Later, he attended an academy founded by John Harrell, a Methodist missionary, who persuaded Checote to devote the rest of his life to preaching to the Creeks. He did this until the Lower Creek Council in 1832 and 1844 passed a law forbidding any tribal member to preach. Checote and several other Creek preachers fled and remained outside the Creek Nation until they had made an appeal to Chief Roley McIntosh, who repealed the law.
In 1852, Checote joined the Indian Mission Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church, South. He continued his preaching career until the Civil War began. He enlisted in the Confederate Army as captain of Company B of the First Regiment of Creek Mounted Volunteers on August 13, 1861, and on August 19, 1861, he became lieutenant colonel of his regiment. He and his regiment participated in several actions against Union forces, including the 1864 Battle of Cabin Creek and a skirmish at Pryor Creek.
Samuel Checote was elected as principal chief of the Creek Nation in 1867, the first to serve under the new postwar Creek constitution. He was reelected to a second term in 1871.
Checote's skills as a political leader were tested soon after his first election. Many of the Creeks were traditionalists who opposed assimilation into the white man's way of life. This group, initially led by Locha Harjo, formed a rival government based in the town of Nuyaka. After the death of Locha Harjo, the group turned to Isparhecher, a former Checotah supporter, as their chief. The conflict escalated until Checote called on the Creek light horsemen, led by Pleasant Porter, to put down the movement. In February 1883, Porter's force defeated the Nuyaka rebels in a battle that came to be known as the "Peach Orchard War."
The Methodist Church, South, chose Checote as a delegate to the Ecumenical Council in London, England, where Methodists from all over the world in 1882. He was unable to attend because of illness. He died at his home in Okmulgee on September 3, 1884.
Richey, Russell E., Kenneth E. Rowe, Jean Miller Schmidt. The Methodist Experience in America Volume 2: Sourcebook. "Creek Chief Samuel Checote pens Autobiographical Letter." June 1883.
- Ingrid Westmoreland, "Checote, Samuel (1819–1884)" Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History and Culture. Retrieved November 27, 2013.
- Lambert, O. A. "Historical Sketch of Col. Samuel Checote, Once Chief of the Creek Nation." Chronicles of Oklahoma. Volume 4, Number 3. September, 1926. Retrieved November 27, 2013.
- John Bartlett Meserve. Chronicles of Oklahoma. Vol. 10, No. 1, March 1932. "Chief Isparhecher." Retrieved April 24, 2013.