Miami began in an unusual way, compared to other towns in Indian Territory. Per the Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History and Culture "... it was settled in a business-like way by men of vision who looked into the future and saw possibilities. It didn't just grow. It was carefully planned."
W. C. Lykins petitioned the U.S. Congress to pass legislation on March 3, 1891 to establish the town. He met with Thomas F. Richardville, chief of the Miami Tribe of Oklahoma, who agreed to meet in turn with the U.S. Indian Commission and the Ottawa tribe. That meeting resulted in Congress authorizing the secretary of the Interior Department to approve the townsite purchase from the Ottawas. Lykins, Richardville and Manford Pooler, chief of the Ottawa, are identified in historical accounts as "fathers of Miami." Lykins' company, the Miami Town Company, bought 588 acres (238 ha) of land from the Ottawa for ten dollars an acre. On June 25–26, 1891 they held an auction of lots. In 1895, Miami incorporated and had more than 800 residents.
The discovery of rich deposits of lead and zinc under Quapaw land a few miles north caused Miami to boom. In 1907, at the time of statehood, its population was 1,893, which increased as mining was established to 6,802 by 1920.
Miami was on the route of the Jefferson Highway established in 1915, with that road running more than 2,300 miles from Winnipeg, Manitoba to New Orleans, Louisiana. It was later on Route 66, and still has an historic Original Nine-Foot Section of Route 66 Roadbed.
It is the capital of the Miami Tribe of Oklahoma, after which it is named, the Modoc Tribe of Oklahoma, Ottawa Tribe of Oklahoma, Peoria Tribe of Indians and Shawnee Tribe.
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