MARCH 22, 1863


Born c. 1780, Opothleyahola, by 1820, was speaker for the Council of Upper Creeks (mostly full bloods holding to traditional culture. While many Lower Creeks who had adopted a modern lifestyle favored trading their homeland for land west of the Mississippi River, Upper Creeks were opposed and executed Lower Creek leader William McIntosh for signing an 1825 treaty ceding Creek land in Georgia. Opothleyahola initially led this resistance, but soon saw it as futile and was, as the Creek Nation’s Principal chief, key in negotiating the 1832 Treaty of Cusseta whereby the Creek ceded their remaining lands. In late 1861, after the Creek Council allied itself with the Confederacy, he led an exodus of Creeks & other Natives loyal to the Union to seek refuge in Kansas. Confederate forces followed, leading to the Battles of Round Mountain, Chusto-Talasah, and Chustenahlah. Leaving provisions behind to escape, the Indians suffered hardship in refugee camps in Kansas. Opothleyahola died there.

Source: Anna Eddings, “Opothleyahola,(ca. 1780-1863),” Oklahoma Historical Society.  Retrieved 7/3/2021, Opothleyahola | The Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History and Culture (
Lithograph: Published in The History of the Indian tribes of North America, by Thomas L. McKenney & James Hall (author) (Philadelphia, 1836-1844), based on a painting by Charles Bird King, 1837. Likely Public Domain in the United States:  Source: United States Library of Congress's Prints and Photographs division under the digital ID ds.03373.   

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