Another original painting commissioned by the Oklahoma State Senate Historical Preservation Fund, Inc. was dedicated at the State Capitol today. The painting, entitled “Fort Smith Council - 1865” by nationally renowned artist Mike Wimmer of Norman, was unveiled during a ceremony in the Senate Chamber this afternoon.
“This is an important piece of our history depicting relations between the U.S. government and the tribal nations,” said Charles Ford, President of the Senate Historical Preservation Fund, Inc. “This is yet another historical story that most people are probably not familiar with and that’s why we chose it. Besides restoring their allegiance to the U.S., it was during the council meetings that the word “Oklahoma” was first suggested as a name for the state by the tribes.”
Ford explained that the Fort Smith Council was convened on September 8, 1865 to renegotiate treaties between the United States and the tribes who aligned with the Confederacy during the Civil War. The negotiations were necessary because the tribes, by signing treaties with the Confederate government, had forfeited all of their rights and protection from the Government of the United States and their property was subject to confiscation.
Several proposals were discussed during the thirteen day council including the joining together of all the tribes in the Indian Territory into one commonwealth government and Allen Wright, Principal Chief of the Choctaws, suggested “Oklahoma” as the name to be given to a common government. The name was taken from two Choctaw words meaning “Land of the Red Man.”
The council proved to be unproductive as the tribes objected to the peace terms presented. A simple treaty of peace was negotiated, however, before the closing that restored the tribe’s allegiance to the U.S. The Fort Smith Council is claimed by the Indian Office not to be a treaty, but simply an agreement which formed the basis for later treaties, such as the Seminole Treaty of May 21, 1866 and the treaty with the Creeks on June 14, 1866.
The painting is a gift from Lilah B. and Paula Marshall. Paula Marshall is the CEO of The Bama Companies, Inc., a privately held corporation that began in the Texas kitchen of Cornillia Alabama (“Bama”) Marshall in 1927. In 1937, Bama’s son Paul, and wife, Lilah B. Marshall, founded Bama Pie in Tulsa, a company that has grown into a leading developer and manufacturer of frozen, ready-to-use food products served worldwide by quick service and casual dining restaurant chains such as McDonalds and Pizza. The company maintains four production facilities in Tulsa.
“This is a tremendous gift from a wonderful family,” noted Ford. “The Marshall’s have shared the gift of their family recipes and now they have graciously shared another gift with the people of Oklahoma that will forever serve as a reminder of our countries humble beginnings.”
This and other art commissioned by the Oklahoma State Senate Historical Preservation Fund, Inc. can be found on the Internet at www.oksenate.gov under “Senate Artwork”.