When Indian Territory became part of Oklahoma, the United States declared that the Indian nations there no longer existed.
The government wanted the Indians to blend into white society and forget their ancestors’ ways. Many Indians did come to live much like their white neighbors, but they never forgot they were Indians. They retained their traditions, honored their ancestors, and taught their children what it meant to be members of their tribe.
In 1936, the United States set forth guidelines by which the Oklahoma tribes could re-form their tribal governments. These new governments have helped tribes revive many of their traditional ways. Many people have also retained ties to Indian relatives whose ancestors stayed in the Southeast.
Through these relationships, tribe members have kept alive a close connection to their old southeastern homeland.