Published on October 15, 2013 by Amy
The Sac and Fox Nation is the largest of three federally recognized tribes of Sauk and Meskwaki (Fox) Native Americans. They are located in Oklahoma and are predominantly Sauk.
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The two Sac and Fox tribes are the Sac and Fox Tribe of the Mississippi in Iowa and the Sac and Fox Nation of Missouri in Kansas and Nebraska. The Sac and Fox tribes were always closely allied and speak very similar Algonquian languages, sometimes considered two dialects, instead of two languages. The Sauk call themselves Thakiwaki or Sa ki wa ki, which means “people coming forth from the water.”
The Sac and Fox Nation is headquartered in Stroud, Oklahoma, and their tribal jurisdictional area covers Lincoln, Payne, and Pottawatomie Counties. Their Principal Chief is George Thurman. Five elected officials, each elected for a four-year term, govern the tribe. Elections are held in odd-numbered years in August.
Of the 3,794 enrolled tribal members, 2,557 live in Oklahoma. Membership to the tribe requires a minimum 1/8 blood quantum.
The tribe’s housing authority is located in Shawnee, Oklahoma. They issue their own tribal vehicle tags and operate eleven smoke shops and three casinos, the Sac and Fox Nation Casino Shawnee and the Sac and Fox Nation Casino Stroud. The Stroud casino features the Center Sky Stage, a live entertainment venue.
The Sac or Thakiwaki lived near Lake Huron and Lake Michigan at the time of European contact. In 1832 they participated in the Black Hawk War against the United States. Military leader Black Hawk remains a cultural hero today, as does the Sac diplomat Keokuk. After the war, the tribe relocated several times from Illinois to Iowa, Kansas, and finally Indian Territory in the 1870s.
Their current lands were part of the larger, historical Sac and Fox Reservation of 1867-1891, which was 480,000 acres (1,900 km2). These tribal land holdings were broken into individual allotments under the Dawes Act, which was to encourage the Indians to assimilate to European-American cultural ways, with a June 12, 1890 agreement with the Cherokee Commission. Under the Curtis Act of 1893, the tribal government and its institutions were dismantled.
The tribe was previously known as the Sac and Fox Tribe of Indians of the Mississippi River. In 1937, they organized as a federally recognized tribe under the Oklahoma Indian Welfare Act of 1934. They allowed tribal membership to everyone listed on the tribal Dawes Rolls and their descendants, as long as individuals had a minimum blood quantum of one-eighth Sac and Fox blood (equivalent to one great-grandparent).
In 1983 the tribal government established its own system for registering vehicles and issuing license plates for tribal members. The state of Oklahoma tried to collect registration fees anyway and the tribe sued. The US Supreme Court ruled in the tribe’s favor on May 17, 1993, in Oklahoma Tax Commission v. Sac & Fox Nation allowing other tribes to follow suit. May 17 is now celebrated by the Sac and Fox Nation as “Victory Day.”