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Jean Pierre Chouteau

Telling the History of Claremore…one story at a time

Early explorers crisscrossed Northeast Oklahoma, but did not give a thought that this land might be a great place to live.  Jean Pierre Chouteau carved his name in Oklahoma history by establishing a trading post along the Grand River in 1796.  This became Salina.

The Chouteaus made a great economic impact upon the American West with their fur trading business.  As early as the 1760s, Pierre, along with his half-brother, Auguste, began trading with the Osage Indians.  The brothers maintained a lucrative trade with the Osage by offering them desirable trade goods at fair exchange rates.

The Chouteau family was from New Orleans, but established a trading post that became St. Louis, Missouri.   They prospered financially and socially.  They were self educated, had personal libraries and collections, and were at the top of the St. Louis society entertaining many foreign dignitaries.

Jean Pierre Chouteau encouraged several thousand Osage to move to the land that is now Oklahoma.  The Osage had claimed hunting grounds that extended from the Missouri River south to the Red River and from the Mississippi to the Rocky Mountains that was bitterly contested by other tribes.  He was in good standing with the Osage, and the tribe dominated the hunting grounds in the west.  Since the fur trade wouldn’t come to the Chouteaus  in St. Louis, they decided to move the business to where the furs could be obtained.

The move to what is now Claremore by the bands of Osage led by Chief Claremont and Chief Black Dog, became the first settlement in Indian Territory that later became the State of Oklahoma.

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