Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma

The Great Seal of the Choctaw Nation
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Thompson McKinney tmckinney 1886 - 1888

Thompson McKinney was the oldest son of Judge Mitanvbbi (Matenabi) which means “To Kill While He Is Coming”. No records show when or where he was born. However, in the 1885 Choctaw census a Thompson McKinney of Gaines County was listed as being 48 years old. If this is the chief it would put is birth in about 1847.

Nothing is known of his educational advantages although records indicate his brother studied first in neighborhood schools and then attended Spencer Academy. This information leads us to assume that Thompson McKinney paved the way at these schools for his younger brother.

McKinney, upon attaining manhood, was appointed a member of the Choctaw Council in 1877. He also served as National Secretary for several years. He served as Principal Chief of the Choctaws from 1886 to 1888.

During his tenure he sent his brother William, a minister, to Paris, Texas in the summer of 1887. William was entrusted with tribal school funds amounting to several thousand dollars. The monies were to be delivered to the Choctaw Council for disbursement to the various tribal schools. Placing the money in his saddlebags, William McKinney began his long journey. He was waylaid at a lonely spot and robbed by two persons he thought were men. McKinney, unhurt, hurried o­n to Paris and told the council members what had happened. They did not believe his story and he was accused of being an accomplice to the thieves. Thompson McKinney was also under suspicion because he selected his brother to carry out the important mission. Because of the rumors and accusations William was forced to withdraw from active work in the church. Later, after Belle Starr’s death o­n February 3, 1889, an account of the robbery of William McKinney was found in her handwriting. She told that she dressed as a man and o­ne of her henchmen had staged the daring holdup. After this escapade was brought to light William McKinney was immediately exonerated and restored to the full confidence of the tribe.

Chief McKinney died at his home in Wilburton in 1889. He is buried in a log covered grave three miles west of Wilburton.