Kiamichi Country

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One definition of Southeastern Oklahoma, but not the Choctaw Country designation by the Oklahoma Department of Tourism and Recreation Little Dixie, Oklahoma.svg
One definition of Southeastern Oklahoma, but not the Choctaw Country designation by the Oklahoma Department of Tourism and Recreation

"Kiamichi Country" was the Oklahoma Department of Tourism and Recreation's official tourism designation for Southeastern Oklahoma until the name was changed to Choctaw Country in honor of the Choctaw Nation headquartered there. The current definition of Choctaw Country includes ten counties, being Coal, Atoka, Bryan, Choctaw, McCurtain, Pushmataha, Le Flore, Latimer, Haskell, and Pittsburg Counties. [1] The Department created the term as one of six designated travel regions within the state. However, other definitions of Southeastern Oklahoma may include additional counties.

The Oklahoma Department of Tourism and Recreation is a department of the government of Oklahoma under the supervision of the Oklahoma Secretary of Commerce and Tourism. The Department is responsible for regulating Oklahoma's tourism industry and for promoting Oklahoma as a tourist destination. It is the Department which established regional designations for the various parts of the state which are in common use today: Red Carpet Country, Green Country (Northeast). Frontier Country (Central), Choctaw Country (Southeast), Chickasaw Country, and Great Plains Country (Southwest).

Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma Domestic dependent nation

The Choctaw Nation is a Native American territory and federally recognized Indian Tribe with a tribal jurisdictional area and reservation comprising 10.5 counties in Southeastern Oklahoma. The Choctaw Nation maintains a special relationship with both the United States and Oklahoma governments.

Coal County, Oklahoma County in the United States

Coal County is a county located in the U.S. state of Oklahoma. As of the 2010 census, the population was 5,925. Its county seat is Coalgate.


The name of Kiamichi was actually applied by early French explorers who came to the area in the early 18th Century. They discovered, among other things, a very large, noisy woodpecker that they called Kiamichi, their word for "raucous bird." [2] The area also contains the Kiamichi Mountains, a subset of the Ouachita Mountains.

Kiamichi Mountains

The Kiamichi Mountains are a mountain range in southeastern Oklahoma. A subrange within the larger Ouachita Mountains that extend from Oklahoma to western Arkansas, the Kiamichi Mountains sit within Le Flore, Pushmataha, and McCurtain counties near the towns of Poteau and Albion. The foothills of the Kiamichi Mountains sit within Haskell County, Northern Le Flore County, and Northern Pittsburg County. Its peaks, which line up south of the Kiamichi River, reach 2,500 feet in elevation. The range is the namesake of Kiamichi Country, the official tourism designation for southeastern Oklahoma.

Ouachita Mountains

The Ouachita Mountains, simply referred to as the Ouachitas, are a mountain range in western Arkansas and southeastern Oklahoma. They are formed by a thick succession of highly deformed Paleozoic strata constituting the Ouachita Fold and Thrust Belt, one of the important orogenic belts of North America. The Ouachitas continue in the subsurface to the southeast where they make a poorly understood connection with the Appalachians and to the southwest where they join with the Marathon area of West Texas. Together with the Ozark Plateaus, the Ouachitas form the U.S. Interior Highlands. The highest natural point is Mount Magazine at 2,753 feet.

Due to an influx of southerners seeking less expensive frontier lands during the post-Civil War Reconstruction era, Kiamichi Country is more southern in culture than the rest of the state, and hence the same general area has also been called "Little Dixie".

American Civil War Civil war in the United States from 1861 to 1865

The American Civil War was a war fought in the United States from 1861 to 1865, between the North and the South. The Civil War is the most studied and written about episode in U.S. history. Primarily as a result of the long-standing controversy over the enslavement of black people, war broke out in April 1861 when secessionist forces attacked Fort Sumter in South Carolina shortly after Abraham Lincoln had been inaugurated as the President of the United States. The loyalists of the Union in the North proclaimed support for the Constitution. They faced secessionists of the Confederate States in the South, who advocated for states' rights to uphold slavery.

Southern United States Cultural region of the United States

The southern United States, also known as the American South, Dixie, Dixieland, or simply the South, is a region of the United States of America. It is located between the Atlantic Ocean and the western United States, with the midwestern United States and northeastern United States to its north and the Gulf of Mexico and Mexico to its south.

Little Dixie (Oklahoma)

Little Dixie is a name given to southeast Oklahoma, which in the past was heavily influenced by southern "Dixie" culture as it was settled chiefly by Southerners seeking a start in new lands following the American Civil War.

Lightly populated, heavily mountainous and forested, the region is popular for outdoor recreation like water sports, mountain biking, hiking, hunting, horse back riding, fishing, and national scenic drives. The Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma covers much of the area.


The area was acquired by the United States through the Louisiana Purchase and became part of the new Arkansas Territory. On April 1, 1820, Arkansas created Miller County which included most of the land that would become Little Dixie. A post office at Miller Courthouse was established on September 7, 1824. Per a treaty signed on January 20, 1825, the land west of a line "one hundred paces east of Fort Smith, and running thence, due south, to Red river" was ceded to the Choctaw Indians. The residents west of the line made a futile attempt to be exempted from the treaty but failed. They burned the courthouse and most of the records before they left.

Louisiana Purchase Acquisition by the United States of America of Frances claim to the territory of Louisiana

The Louisiana Purchase was the acquisition of the Louisiana territory of New France by the United States from France in 1803. The U.S. paid fifty million francs ($11,250,000) and a cancellation of debts worth eighteen million francs ($3,750,000) for a total of sixty-eight million francs. The Louisiana territory included land from fifteen present U.S. states and two Canadian provinces. The territory contained land that forms Arkansas, Missouri, Iowa, Oklahoma, Kansas, and Nebraska; the portion of Minnesota west of the Mississippi River; a large portion of North Dakota; a large portion of South Dakota; the northeastern section of New Mexico; the northern portion of Texas; the area of Montana, Wyoming, and Colorado east of the Continental Divide; Louisiana west of the Mississippi River ; and small portions of land within the present Canadian provinces of Alberta and Saskatchewan. Its non-native population was around 60,000 inhabitants, of whom half were African slaves.

Arkansas Territory territory of the USA between 1819-1836

The Territory of Arkansas, initially organized as the Territory of Arkansaw, was an organized incorporated territory of the United States that existed from March 2, 1819, until June 15, 1836, when the final extent of the territory was admitted to the Union as the State of Arkansas.

Miller County was a county that existed from April 1, 1820 to 1838, first as part of Arkansas Territory and later the State of Arkansas. It included much of what is southeastern Oklahoma and the northeastern counties in Texas. It was named for James Miller, the first governor of the Arkansas Territory.

Some Choctaws had been moving into the region from Mississippi since the Treaty of Doak's Stand in 1820. Following the Treaty of Dancing Rabbit Creek in 1830, the federal government began their forced removal. By 1834, nearly 8,000 Choctaws had arrived in their new land over the "trail of tears and death". At Nanih Waiya, near the present Tuskahoma Council House, they established a capital and adopted the first constitution ever written in what is now Oklahoma. The Choctaws actively supported the Confederacy during the Civil War and were allowed to keep most of their land in eastern Indian Territory. In 1898, after pressure from Washington, they agreed to an allotment plan administered by the Dawes Commission. Their excess lands and those of the allied Chickasaw were opened to settlement by non-Indians.

Mississippi State of the United States of America

Mississippi is a state located in the southeastern region of the United States. Mississippi is the 32nd most extensive and 34th most populous of the 50 United States. It is bordered by Tennessee to the north, Alabama to the east, the Gulf of Mexico and Louisiana to the south, and Arkansas and Louisiana to the west. The state's western boundary is largely defined by the Mississippi River. Jackson, with a population of approximately 167,000 people, is both the state's capital and largest city.

Treaty of Doaks Stand

The Treaty of Doak's Stand was signed on October 18, 1820 between the United States and the Choctaw Indian tribe. Based on the terms of the accord, the Choctaw agreed to give up approximately one-half of their remaining Choctaw homeland. In October 1820, Andrew Jackson and Thomas Hinds were sent as commissioners who represented the United States to negotiate a treaty to surrender a large portion of Choctaw country in Mississippi. They met with tribal representatives at Doak's Stand on the Natchez Trace. They met with the chiefs Pushmataha, Mushulatubbee, and Apuckshunubbee, who represented the three major regional divisions of the Choctaw. Chiefs of the towns and other prominent men accompanied them, such as Colonel Silas Dinsmoor.

Treaty of Dancing Rabbit Creek

The Treaty of Dancing Rabbit Creek was a treaty signed on September 27, 1830, and proclaimed on February 24, 1831, between the Choctaw American Indian tribe and the United States Government. This was the first removal treaty carried into effect under the Indian Removal Act. The treaty ceded about 11 million acres (45,000 km2) of the Choctaw Nation in what is now Mississippi in exchange for about 15 million acres (61,000 km2) in the Indian territory, now the state of Oklahoma. The principal Choctaw negotiators were Chief Greenwood LeFlore, Musholatubbee, and Nittucachee; the U.S. negotiators were Colonel John Coffee and Secretary of War John Eaton.

The damage of the Civil War and a long decline in cotton prices meant years of a poor economy in the mostly rural South. Many citizens left the South to seek opportunities in new western lands. When the Indian lands were opened, Southerners flocked to the Indian Nations for a new start, especially to the old Choctaw reserve. So many homesteaded in the area that they markedly influenced the politics and culture of the region. They made much of what is now Oklahoma culturally a southern state. In the decades that followed, this area became known as Little Dixie.


Ouachita Mountains in Southeast Oklahoma Talimenavista1.jpg
Ouachita Mountains in Southeast Oklahoma

Southeast Oklahoma is far more mountainous and forested than any other part of the state, containing most of the Ouachita Mountains in Oklahoma, the Arbuckle Mountains, and five other mountain ranges. The Ouachita National Forest, Oklahoma's only national forest, is also in this area.

Kiamichi Country also houses "The World's Highest Hill," a 1,999-foot peak near Poteau, with the official designation for a "mountain" being anything 2,000-feet or taller. [3]

The region contains Oklahoma's largest lake by surface area, Eufaula Lake. Other major lakes include Robert S. Kerr Reservoir, Sardis Lake, Hugo Lake, McGee Creek Reservoir, Pine Creek Lake, Broken Bow Lake, Lake Wister, Lake Atoka Reservoir, and on Kiamichi Country's southwestern border, Lake Texoma.

The region consists of the following counties in Oklahoma: Atoka, Bryan, Choctaw, Coal, Haskell, Hughes, Johnston, Latimer, Le Flore, Marshall, McCurtain, Pittsburg, Pushmataha.


The region is overwhelmingly Democratic around 80%. Many of the citizens proudly refer to themselves as yellow-dog Democrats. However, this region has been swept up in the growing Republican trend in Oklahoma. Many register as Democrats to vote in primaries then vote Republican in general elections. From statehood until 2003, most of the region was in its own Congressional district, the 3rd District (numbered the 4th District from 1907 until 1915). Its best-known congressman was Carl Albert, from McAlester, who represented the district for 30 years, the last six as Speaker of the House. Albert became synonymous with the region. At 5 feet 4 inches (1.63 m) tall, he was known affectionately as the Little Giant from Little Dixie.

Albert retired in 1977 and was succeeded by Wes Watkins, who held the seat for 14 years. He decided to run for governor in 1990. However, the Democratic campaign tactics during the primary forced Watkins from the race (and eventually from the Democratic Party). Watkins later shifted his party affiliation and registered as a Republican. In 1996, he easily won back his seat on the strength of his personal connection with the region's voters, becoming the first Republican to win this seat since statehood. Watkins’s victory led to several other Republican victories at the local level in the region.

After the 2000 U.S. Census, Oklahoma lost one seat in Congress. Most of the Little Dixie region was combined with northeastern Oklahoma to become Oklahoma's 2nd congressional district. The region remains strongly Democratic politically. However, most of the Democrats in this region are fairly conservative by national standards, and a majority of Native Americans generally line up with the Republican Party on issues of abortion, marriage, gun-rights and national security. From 2005 to 2013 it was represented in Congress by Dan Boren, son of former Oklahoma governor and United States Senator David Boren. According to the Chicago Tribune , among House Democrats, Boren of Oklahoma backed former President George W. Bush most often, with 77.9 percent of his votes, a higher score than 26 House Republicans could claim. Markwayne Mullin, a Republican from Westville, currently holds the seat and is only the second Republican to do so since 1921.


A view from Talimena Drive. Ouachitanationalforestpicture.jpg
A view from Talimena Drive.

Kiamichi Country bills itself as the "Deer Capital of the World." [3] Main tourism draws include award-winning scenic drives through the Ouachita Mountains, 13 major lakes, the nearby Chickasaw National Recreation Area, state parks, and whitewater rapids sports. The Talimena Scenic Drive is also among the top draws, traveling through the Ouachita National Forest in the Winding Stair Mountains.


Per the 2000 census, the region had 305,395 people. Whites equal about 76% of the total, American Indians total a little over 17%, and Blacks, almost 4%. Many of the blacks are descendants of the Choctaw freedmen (slaves held by the Choctaw and freed after the Civil War). The median per capita income is $13,948, almost $10,000 less than the state average of $23,517.

Cities and Towns

The city of McAlester serves as the region's primary urban center. Culturally and economically, it is a suburb of the more heavily populated cities of Green Country in Northeastern Oklahoma. Another major urban center that lies to the south is Durant, which is ranked as one of the fastest growing cities in the United States.

Other important cities and towns include Atoka, Poteau, Hugo, Idabel, Broken Bow, Talihina, Clayton, Antlers, Coalgate and Wilburton.

Notes and references

  1. "Counties & Regions". Oklahoma Tourism and Recreation Department (Travel Promotion Division). Retrieved February 5, 2019.
  2. "Welcome to Hugo." K-Ten CommunityInfo - Hugo, OK. Retrieved August 8, 2014.
  3. 1 2 [Oklahoma Department of Tourism]

Coordinates: 34°30′N95°00′W / 34.5°N 95.0°W / 34.5; -95.0

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