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Oklahoma Arts CouncilOklahoma Arts Council

Fort Smith Conference - 1865

by Mike Wimmer

Commissioned by the Oklahoma State Senate Historical Preservation Fund, Inc.
Dedicated on February 28, 2006
Fourth Floor

Fort Smith Conference - 1865 by Mike Wimmer

The Artwork

The Fort Smith Council was convened at the Fort Smith military post on September 8, 1865, to renegotiate treaties between the United States and the tribes who aligned with the Confederacy during the Civil War.

Tribes represented were the Cherokee, Chickasaw, Choctaw, Comanche, Creek, Osage, Quapaw, Seminole, Seneca, Shawnee, Wichita and Wyandotte. Among the representatives on the part of the United States were D. N. Cooley, Commissioner of Indian Affairs, Elijah Sells, Superintendent of Indian Affairs; and Colonel E. S. Parker.

Tribes were informed that those who had entered into treaties with the late Confederate government had forfeited all of their rights and protection from the Government of the United States and that their property was subject to confiscation. The Government indicated that certain conditions would need to be met before renegotiating, including the abolishment of slavery. Another important proposal put forth for consideration was the joining together of all the tribes in the Indian Territory into one commonwealth government.

It was at this time when Allen Wright, Principal Chief of the Choctaws, proposed the word "Oklahoma" for consideration 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 tribes objected to the peace terms presented and after an unproductive session of 13 days, the Fort Smith Council adjourned to meet at Washington the next year. Before the closing, however, a simple treaty of peace was negotiated with the tribes restoring allegiance to the United States.

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 Artist

Mike Wimmer
Mike Wimmer
Born and raised in Muskogee, Oklahoma, Mike Wimmer began his career as an artist during the seventh grade. He earned his B.F.A. from the University of Oklahoma, where he met Don Ivan Punchatz. Wimmer later moved to Arlington, Texas to be Punchatz's apprentice at Punchatz's famous Sketch Pad Studio. Wimmer learned valuable knowledge regarding the business aspect of illustrating as well as various painting techniques and the working methods of the local Dallas illustrators. After his two and a half year apprenticeship, he moved back to Norman, Oklahoma and set up his own studio using all that he had learned in Texas. Since then Wimmer has become very successful illustrating children's books such as "Flight: The Journey of Charles Lindbergh" by Robert Burliegh which was the winner of the Orbis Pictus Award for Outstanding Nonfiction for Children in 1990. He also illustrated "All the Places to Love" by Patricia MacLachlan which was published in 1994 and won the Oklahoma Book Award for Best Illustrated Children's Book 1995. Wimmer's latest book, "Will Rogers" by Former Governor Frank Keating, was published in 2002 and has won the 2003 Spur Award from the Western Writers Association of America. Even though Wimmer has worked for some of the largest corporations in the world including Disney and Procter and Gamble, Wimmer finds the greatest artistic pleasure within his creation of fine art.