How Difficult Is It for a U.S. Territory to Achieve Statehood?

In 1898, the Curtis Act abolished tribal courts and governments in the Indian Territory of Oklahoma, affecting about 90 million acres of land that Native Americans had accumulated through treaties with the U.S. government. In response, members of the so-called "Five Civilized Tribes" -- the Choctaw, Chickasaw, Muscogee (Creek), Cherokee, and Seminole -- who had held sovereignty in the area joined forces, creating a constitution and taking steps to formally propose the creation of a state called Sequoyah to Congress. That effort failed, but at President Theodore Roosevelt’s urging, Congress combined the Indian Territory with the Oklahoma Territory to create Oklahoma, America’s 46th state, in 1907.

Other would-be U.S. states:

  • An 1845 joint resolution by the U.S. Congress permitted as many as four new states to be carved out of the original state of Texas, including what might have become the state of Lincoln, located between the Rio Grande and Texas’ Colorado River.
  • In the early 1940s, a state called Jefferson -- made up of land carved out between California and Oregon -- was proposed by secessionists seeking independence.
  • As early as 1858, residents in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula sought to establish the state of Superior at a constitutional convention in the village of Ontonagon.
More Info: Oklahoma Historical Society

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