Academic journal article The Journal of Chickasaw History and Culture

The Outlaw Statesman: The Life and Times of Fred Tecumseh Waite

Academic journal article The Journal of Chickasaw History and Culture

The Outlaw Statesman: The Life and Times of Fred Tecumseh Waite

Article excerpt

The Outlaw Statesman: The Life and Times of Fred Tecumseh Waite. By Mike Tower. (Bloomington, Indiana: Authorhouse, 2007. 237 pp. map, notes, bibliography, index. Paperback $14.49.)

When researching about various Chickasaw statesmen, I kept encountering Mike Tower's book The Outlaw Statesman: The Life and Times of Fred Tecumseh Waite. This book, though from a vanity press, has not received the attention it deserves. As a history buff published in journals such as the Chronicles of Oklahoma, Tower is well versed in the geography and changing boundaries of Chickasaw and Choctaw towns in Indian Territory.

A treasure trove of information about Chickasaw politics is found in this book, mostly covering the last two decades of the nineteenth century. The writing style is clear, helping the reader move with ease through the often confusing and tedious landscape of legal and political machinations. In short, Tower makes the subject accessible and readable. Another strength of the book is his charting of the family relationships between Secretary Fred Tecumseh Waite and the Paul and the McClure families. This alone makes this book a valuable resource for Chickasaw genealogists and local historians.

Waiters mother, Catherine McClure, was Chickasaw and a stepdaughter of Smith Paul and a stepsister to the notorious, violent-tempered, Chickasaw Progressive politician Sam Paul. Waiters father, Tom Waite, was a white man who partnered with Smith Paul in developing Rush Creek Valley. Although Fred T. Waite was briefly involved in the "Regulator" activities alongside William Bonney (Billy the Kid) that section of the book only comprises a few pages, which makes the book's title unfortunate since such violence did not define the entirety of Waite's life. Indeed, Waite was remarkable for his advanced university education and checkered career (29).

Growing up near Fort Arbuckle, Fred T. Waite and his family lived in constant fear of Comanche and Kiowa raids. Eventually, the threat to their persons and livestock subsided, and Waite's white father and stepgrandfather used slaves and white migrant workers to build and fence large farms. In 1868, Fred Waite's father Tom Waite welcomed sixty white families to and Smith Paul's jointly controlled farmlands and ranches. Although the Chickasaw nation owned the land, Tom Waite and Smith Paul leased thousands of acres to white sharecroppers for personal profit.

After he finished college, Waite became a wanderlust and got mixed up with cattle rustlers and bank robthrough love of adventure (not financial need). Waite returned to Indian Territory in 1879, a wanted in Lincoln County, New Mexico. Back in Indian Territory, Waite got in trouble by acting as his Uncle Sam Paul's posse man. Although a commissioned U.S. Indian Police Corporal, Sam Paul was trigger-happy, and he and Waite faced murder charges at Fort Smith in 1882. Waite proved his innocence but Paul was imprisoned until he received a Presidential Pardon in 1884. The common experience of arrest, jail, and trial brought Waite and Paul closer together and they remained staunch political allies for the rest of their short lives.

The main thrust of the story is how Waite became a "dynamic and respected statesman battling Washington bureaucratic attempts to dismantle his people's government in order to create the State of Oklahoma" (viii). …

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