Chief Allen Wright is extremely important to our heritage. [He] played a significant role in the transition of the Choctaw people from the post removal and Civil War period to the advent of Oklahoma statehood.
Allen Wright, whose Choctaw name was Kiliahote, was born in Attala County, Mississippi, in 1826. Following the Treaty of Dancing Rabbit Creek, which forced the removal of the Choctaw, he immigrated to Indian Territory and settled near present-day Lukfata, Oklahoma, in McCurtain County. At the age of 13 he relocated to Boggy Depot, making it home for the remainder of his life.
Wright served as Chief of the Choctaw Nation from 1866 to 1870 and was an accomplished civic and religious leader. He made a significant impact on the Choctaw Nation post-Trail of Tears, post-Civil War, and prior to Oklahoma’s statehood. Chief, Presbyterian minister, diplomat, linguist, and rancher are all titles that are associated with Wright; the title he cherished most was Servant of Christ.
Wright is best known for suggesting the name Oklahoma for the new territory during his role as lead negotiator of the Choctaw-Chickasaw Treaty of 1866. Other significant accomplishments include translating portions of the Bible from Hebrew to Choctaw and the creation of the Choctaw dictionary, Chahta Lexicon, for use in the tribal school system. Wright also spoke five languages—English, Latin, Greek, Hebrew, and Choctaw.
Learning was a lifelong passion for Wright, who earned both bachelors and master’s degrees in the 1850’s, remarkable accomplishments for the times and considering he did not begin his formal education until age fourteen. In addition, he graduated from the Union Theological Seminary in New York City, the first Native American from Indian Territory to earn the degree. Throughout his life he used his intellectual and leadership gifts for the advancement of his people.
Wright married a direct descendant from Mayflower passengers. Harriet Newell Mitchell was a missionary from Ohio and had ten children with Wright. Today, there are 234 living descendants of the union.
Chief Allen Wright is the third member of his family to be inducted into the Oklahoma Hall of Fame. His daughter-in-law Ida Belle Wright was inducted in 1937 and his granddaughter Muriel H. Wright was inducted in 1940.
Allen Wright is credited with helping name the state of Oklahoma.