Gary Zellar

Academic Historian

Gary Zellar received both his B.A. and M.A. in history at Sam Houston State University in Huntsville, Texas. He did his doctoral work in the Race and Ethnicity of the American West under Elliott West at the University of Arkansas, and worked closely with Daniel F. Littlefield, Jr., one of the pioneers in the study of African-Indian relations at the Native American Press Archives at the University of Arkansas-Little Rock. His dissertation, “‘If I Ain’t One, You Won’t Find Another One Here:’ Race, Identity, Citizenship and Land: The African Creek Experience in the Indian Territory, 1830-1910,” won both the Oklahoma Historical Society’s 2004 award for the best dissertation and the Phi Alpha Theta /Westerners International award for the best dissertation in History of the American West for 2004.  His African Creeks: Estelvste and the Creek Nation was published by the University of Oklahoma in 2007. In addition, Zellar has published several articles and given numerous presentations dealing with the history of the estelvste. He is currently teaching as an adjunct history instructor for Montgomery College and Angelina College in Texas and is at work on a manuscript dealing with the Civil War in the Indian Territory.

Tullahassee Manual Labor School (1850-1924)

Image Ownership: Public Domain Tullahassee Manual Labor School was a boarding school for Creek freedmen funded by the Creek Nation in the Indian Territory.  The Tullahassee  school was originally founded in 1850 as the first of three boarding schools for the education of Creek children … Read MoreTullahassee Manual Labor School (1850-1924)

Sarah Davis (1799-1886)

Sarah Davis was one of the leading free African Creek merchants who lived in the Creek Agency settlement, west of present day Muskogee before (and after) the Civil War.  Sarah Davis was born in the Old Creek Nation in 1799 and was formerly a slave … Read MoreSarah Davis (1799-1886)

Opothleyohola’s Exodus to Kansas (Nov. 1861-Jan. 1862)

After a faction of the Creek tribe had negotiated and signed a treaty with the Confederacy in July 1861, a group of Upper Creek chiefs led by Opothleyohola repudiated the treaty and declared their neutrality.  Opothleyohola’s followers and their families gathered together on Opothleyohola’s plantation/ranch … Read MoreOpothleyohola’s Exodus to Kansas (Nov. 1861-Jan. 1862)

Jesse Franklin (1817-1882)

Jesse Franklin was an influential African Creek politician and minister who lived in the Creek Agency settlement in the years after the Civil War. Franklin was born about 1817 as a slave in the Creek Nation in Alabama. He emigrated to the Indian Territory in … Read MoreJesse Franklin (1817-1882)

James Coody Johnson (1864-1927)

Image Ownership: Public Domain James Coody Johnson was an African Creek lawyer, politician and entrepreneur, and a leading voice for inclusion of African Americans both before and after Oklahoma statehood.  Johnson was the son of Robert Johnson, the African Creek interpreter for the Seminole nation … Read MoreJames Coody Johnson (1864-1927)

Island Smith (1877- ? )

Image Ownership: Public Domain Island Smith was a celebrated African Creek native healer (or root doctor) who practiced his art in the hinterlands southwest of Okmulgee in the years after Oklahoma statehood. Smith was born outside of Taft, Oklahoma in 1877 to Hannah (later Robinson) … Read MoreIsland Smith (1877- ? )

First Indian Home Guard Regiment

The First Indian Home Guard Regiment was a tri-racial Union regiment first organized in Kansas in May 1862. The regiment was made up of Creek and Seminole Indians, African Creeks and African Seminoles with white officers commanding the unit.  Though their numbers were few, the … Read MoreFirst Indian Home Guard Regiment

Emancipation Day (August 4th)

Image Ownership: Public Domain On August 4, 1865, the Loyal Creek Council formally declared that African Creeks would be considered full citizens of the Creek Nation.  African Creeks soon designated August 4th “Emancipation Day” and organized celebrations, including picnics, parades and speakers beginning as early … Read MoreEmancipation Day (August 4th)