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I am a high school English teacher in an urban high school in Oklahoma City. I am a member of the American Federation of Teachers, Local 2309. I am a Democrat, a union activist and a worker for social justice. I also am a Christian (Congregationalist). I play chess and coach our school chess team.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Historical "What If?"s

Proposed State of Sequoyah

One of the little known facts of American history is that the U.S. almost had a Native American state admitted into the Union. Native American leaders living in what was "Indian Territory" in the eastern part of what is now Oklahoma, met in Muskogee on August 21, 1905, wrote a constitution, and petitioned for admission to the Union as the State of Sequoyah, named for the Cherokee member who created an written alphabet for his language.

Theodore Roosevelt ruled the petition invalid, largely because he did not want to have two western states added to the Union who would have almost certainly sent Democratic senators to represent them in Congress. He stated that Indian Territory would have to merge with the western Oklahoma territory to become a state. This happened in 1907, just over 100 years ago. The constitution written for the abortive state of Sequoyah became the basis for the constitution adopted for the new state of Oklahoma at the constitutional convention in Guthrie.

I wonder what would have been the result of having a largely Native American state in America. Would some of the problems that have continued to plague Native Americans in our time been adverted due to the presence of a voice for Indians in our Congress? Or would things pretty much have remained the same?

Interesting to consider, in any case.

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