Cherokee Nation


The Cherokee Nation is Oklahoma's largest Native group and the second largest in the United States. The Cherokee Nation is the direct, lineal descendant of the sovereign tribal government that presided over much of the southeastern United States before European colonization. The major concentration of contemporary Cherokees live in fourteen northeastern Oklahoma counties within the original 1835 tribal treaty boundaries. 

The Cherokee Nation is not a reservation, but a jurisdictional service area that includes all of eight counties and portions of six in northeastern Oklahoma.  What remained of Cherokee tribal land following the Civil War was divided into individual allotments which were given to Cherokees listed in the census compiled by the Dawes Commission in the late 1890s. Descendants of those original enrollees make up today’s Cherokee Nation tribal citizenship of more than 200,000 people. Almost 70,000 of these Cherokees reside in the 7,000 square mile area of the Cherokee Nation.

If you can prove each generation of your lineage back to an individual who settled in one of Oklahoma's territories on or before 16 November 1907, you are eligible for membership in First Families of the Twin Territories


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Counties Comprising the Cherokee Nation


Counties in the Cherokee Nation, Oklahoma are shown in the map on the right.  See below this table for additional information on each county.

The Cherokee Nation used the term 'District' rather than 'County.' 

District Date Created Parent District
Adair 16 July 1907 Choctaw Lands
Cherokee 16 July 1907 Choctaw Lands
Craig 16 July 1907 Cherokee Lands
Delaware 16 July 1907 Cherokee County
Mayes 16 July 1907 Cherokee Lands
McIntosh 16 July 1907 Creek Lands
Muskogee 1898 Creek Nation
Nowata 16 July 1907 Cherokee Lands
Ottawa 16 July 1907 Cherokee Nation
Rogers 16 July 1907 Cherokee Nation
Sequoyah 16 July 1907 Cherokee Lands
Tulsa 1905 Creek Lands
Wagoner 1908 Creek Lands


Cherokee Lands

County Creation - Additional Data

A convention met at Tahlequah in September, composed mostly of Eastern Cherokees, and framed a new constitution, which was ratified by a convention of Old Settlers at Fort Gibson, June 26, 1840.  For purposes of civil administration and the apportionment of legislators, the Cherokee Nation was divided into nine districts similar in size and organization to counties. They were called Canadian, Illinois, Sequoyah, Flint, Delaware, Goingsnake, Tahlequah, and Cooweescoowee, the last one being named in honor of John Ross, whose Cherokee name that was.

The Constitutional Convention named all of the counties which were formed from that part of the state of Oklahoma which was included in the Indian Territory together with several new counties which were formed from portions of Oklahoma Territory. Two new counties have been formed and named since the state was admitted to the Union.



County Seat



Population Area Map
Adair Stilwell   The Adair family of the Cherokee tribe.


576 sq mi
(1,492 km)
State map highlighting Adair County
Cherokee Tahlequah

Originally settled by Cherokee Indians following the Trail of Tears

Cherokee Nation's Tahlequah District; name said to have been derived from a Chickasaw word "Chiluk-ki," meaning cave people.


751 sq mi
(1,945 km)
State map highlighting Cherokee County
Craig Vinita   Granville Craig, a prominent mixed-blood-Cherokee farmer who had lived in the Welch-Bluejacket area since 1873.


761 sq mi
(1,971 km)
State map highlighting Craig County
Delaware Jay   Delaware District of old Cherokee Nation.


741 sq mi
(1,919 km)
State map highlighting Delaware County
Mayes Pryor

(See below).*

Honors Cherokee Chief Samuel H. Mayes. Pryor, or Pryor Creek, named for early trader and Indian subagent Nathaniel Pryor, became the county seat.


656 sq mi
(1,699 km)
State map highlighting Mayes County
McIntosh Eufaula   Named for the prominent McIntosh family of the Creek Nation, many of whom were chiefs and leaders. 19,456 620 sq mi
(1,606 km)
State map highlighting McIntosh County
Muskogee Muskogee   County named from the city, which in turn was named for the Muskogee or Creek tribe of Indians. The word is a corruption of "Maskoki" said to have been derived from an Algonquin word signifying swamp or marshy land. 69,451 814 sq mi
(2,108 km)
State map highlighting Muskogee County
Nowata Nowata   County named from its county seat town. The name is said to be a corruption of the Delaware Indian word "Noweeta" meaning "welcome." 10,569 565 sq mi
(1,463 km)
State map highlighting Nowata County
Ottawa Miami   Named for the tribal name, corruption of "Adawe," meaning to trade or traffic. 33,194 471 sq mi
(1,220 km)
State map highlighting Ottawa County
Rogers Claremore   Named for Clement V. Rogers, member of the Constitutional Convention and father of Will Rogers, the stage comedian. 70,641 675 sq mi
(1,748 km)
State map highlighting Rogers County
Sequoyah Sallisaw   Named for the Cherokee Native who invented the Cherokee alphabet. 38,972 674 sq mi
(1,746 km)
State map highlighting Sequoyah County
Tulsa Tulsa   Tulsey Town, an old Creek settlement in Oklahoma 563,299 570 sq mi
(1,476 km)
State map highlighting Tulsa County
Wagoner Wagoner  

The County was named for its county seat, which in turn is said to have been named for Bailey P. Waggoner, attorney of the Missouri Pacific Railway Company at the time of building one of its lines led to the founding of the town.

57,491 563 sq mi
(1,458 km)
State map highlighting Wagoner County
Washington Bartlesville   In honor of President George Washington.


417 sq mi
(1,080 km)
State map highlighting Washington County

*Creation of Mayes county began with the constitution for the proposed State of Sequoyah in August 1905. The document designated 48 counties. Nine of these, including Mayes, became part of the state by the Oklahoma Constitutional Convention, effective at statehood on November 16, 16 July 1907.

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