It is the mission of the Seminole Nation Lighthorse Tribal Police Department to safeguard the lives and property of the people of the Seminole Nation that we serve, to reduce the incidence of fear and crime, and to enhance public safety while working with the communities of the Seminole Nation to improve their quality of life. Our obligation is to do so with honor, integrity and our highest ethical standards to maintain public confidence of our Tribal members.
In carrying out our mission, we recognize that service is our duty and we share a common, ongoing goal to provide it at all times in a superior and professional level as possible.
History of the Seminole Nation Lighthorse Police
Although the smallest police force of the Five Civilized Tribes in the Indian Territory, the Seminole Light-horse police were the most feared by lawbreakers in the "Nations." Their record and dedication to duty is an example of outstanding law enforcement on the Oklahoma Frontier~
Interestingly, the term "light-horse" came from Revolutionary War hero General Henry Lee due to his capability of cavalry movements during the conflict, earning him the nickname "Light-horse Harry." General Henry Lee was the father of General Robert E. Lee.
Organization of the Seminole Lighthorse
Seminole Agent Samuel M. Rutherford reported on August 29, 1859, that the Seminoles had no national fund to defray the expenses of government, and as a consequence there was a great laxity in the executions of the laws; that these Indians needed an efficient "Light-Horse" to execute their laws and if those officers were expected to perform their duty, they must be paid. The funds could be withdrawn from the annuity and used for that purpose. Evidently no move was made at that time to establish the Light-Horse. The Civil War was on the horizon before the Seminoles were well established in their new home after their removal from Florida, and all efforts at carrying on any government among them was destined to await the end of the conflict.
After the Indians returned to their homes at the close of the Civil War, and times improved, a body of light-horse like those that served so efficiently among the other Civilized tribes, took charge of administering the law in the Seminole Nation. They maintained law and order, and like the celebrated Canadian "Mounties," they always got their man.
A. Q. Teague at the age of nineteen, arrived in the Indian Territory from Fort Worth, Texas in 1876, with a drove of cattle for the Seminole Nation. He decided that he would prefer some other work and he was engaged by Governor John F. Brown of the Seminole Nation as a laborer on his farm for the following nineteen years.
The youth evidently proved himself efficient as Governor Brown asked him how he would like to become a light-horseman. "I told him that I couldn't be a light-horseman, but he said, "Yes you can. You just do what I tell you to do." "I said, Yes, but you might tell me to kill a man and I couldn't do that." "He said, Yes, you just kill him if I tell you to." " A light-horseman was just the same as a policeman, so I was made a Light-horseman."
Seminole Laws - Chapter 6
Chapter six of the Seminole Laws, as furnished by the U.S. Indian inspector for Indian Territory, and translated by G.W. Grayson, July 1906, contains the following fifteen sections:
Sec. I The Seminole Nation shall have a force of Light Horsemen.
II. The Company of Light Horse shall consist of one Captain, one Lieutenant, and eight privates, in all, ten men.
III. The Company of Light Horse when installed in office shall serve for the term of four years.
IV. If by reason of death, or the violation of any law of the Nation by any member of the Company, his place on the force becomes vacant. It shall be the duty of the National Council to fill such vacancy or make any other arrangement that shall be satisfactory.
V. If any member of the Light-Horse company shall resign his office, the chiefs shall report such resignation to the National Council, when it will become the duty of that body to fill the vacancy.
VI. The Light Horse company when in charge of a prisoner under arrest, shall exercise due humanity and care in the treatment accorded him during his imprisonment.
VII. If a Light Horsemen shall, through neglect of duty, or flagrant carelessness, suffer a prisoner in his charge to escape from his custody, he shall be deemed guilty.
VIII. If it shall be proved that any Light Horseman by drinking whisky or any other intoxicant, had become intoxicated, he shall be deemed guilty.
IX. Power and authority are hereby vested in the chiefs of the Nation to issue warrant for arrest; and the Light Horsemen shall make no arrests without first having received such warrant from the chiefs.
X. The chiefs shall first be fully satisfied that an act of violence of law has been committed before issuing a warrant for arrest.
XI. In making arrests, the Light Horsemen shall exercise due care that no unnecessary physical pain or other injury is inflicted on the person being arrested
XII. If the Light Horseman shall proceed to effect the arrest of any person, abiding by and observing the requirements of the foregoing section of his official acts; and if, notwithstanding the orderly deportment of the officer, the person to be arrested shall make resistance by force of arms, then the arresting officer shall have the right to kill him.
XIII. Such a killing shall be deemed to be the legitimate result of the operation of law.
XIV. The Chiefs are hereby authorized to engage a posse to aid the Light-Horse when necessary, who shall be subject to the laws governing the Light-Horsemen.
XV. The posse so engaged shall be paid the per diem of one ($1.00) dollar by the Nation.Passed by the National Council January 28th, 1903 OKFUSKEY MILLER,
Chairman T. S. McGiesey, Clerk, Approved January 28, 1903
HULBUTTA MIKKO, Principal Chief Seminole Nation
THOMAS LITTLE, 2nd Chief, S.N.