The Lost Tribe
A true tale of Oklahoma falsehood
Photo by M.J. Alexander
THE CLAIM: “There were actually six tribes that walked the Trail of Tears. One tribe, Chipachawamie, died of famine early on. The tribe was small and only consisted of about 1,000 members. Those that survived were accepted into the Choctaw tribe. For whatever reason, this is largely ignored by history books.”
THE SOURCE: “15 Incredible Facts About Oklahoma,” Only In Your State, Nov. 10, 2015.
FACT CHECK: False.
THE TRUTH: The reason the Chipachawamie have been largely ignored by history books is not a mystery: The tribe never existed, save for in the imagination of a writer for satirical website The Lost Ogle.
In honor of April Fool’s Day 2010, Royce Young offered “12 Entirely True Facts About Oklahoma.” Among his tongue-in-cheek claims: Tulsa-born Garth Brooks is actually a native of Big Spring, Texas; the Red River belongs to New Mexico; a pre-teen Gary England was cast as the lead in a 1948 cinematic retelling of Oliver Twist, but his family in Seiling forbade him to travel to London for filming; and the musical Oklahoma! was originally named Wyoming!
But it is the tale of the lost tribe of the Chipachawamie – lifted word-for-word by Only In Your State and posted as one of the state’s “15 Incredible Facts” – that lives on. The claim now has been cited as fact nearly 200 times online, and been translated into several languages.
Editor’s note: Oklahoma is rich with history, lore and fun facts, but some of them aren’t quite factual. In this series, M.J. Alexander hunts for the accuracy – or lack thereof – behind some of our state’s stories.