“Redbird made a pledge to return to the old ways, and decided that the first step was to locate the Sacred Wampum Belts, which were woven of wampum shells to record the history, tradition and laws of the Keetowah and Cherokees in general. The Wampums are believed to have a special power within themselves, and are guarded very carefully to this day by the Keetowah Society.”
Conley wrote, “Redbird Smith did succeed in recovering the Wampums, and the movement was underway. The belief was that a return to the ancient ways would ultimately save the Cherokees from the destructive ways of the white man. And so, reviving Cherokee culture and returning to traditional ways, Redbird Smith and the Keetoowahs resisted allotment and refused to cooperate with the Dawes Commission.”
Again from the Cherokee Nation website:
“Between 1891 and 1901, factionalism once again surfaced amongst the Keetowah Society. The Curtis Act, and the impending allotment of Cherokee land by the Dawes Commission were feverishly spoke against by traditionalists and Keetowahs. These government acts threatened to cease tribal governments for both the Cherokee and Muscogee (Creek). The Keetowahs held another meeting, this one at Moody’s Spring, near present-day Tahlequah. They decided that allotment was the only option they had. Redbird would not give in, so he and his followers withdrew from the Keetowah Society and formed the Nighthawk Keetowah. The Nighthawk Keetowah were determined to not only hold onto what culture and religion remained, but now what land and government, as well. In 1905, the split was even more defined, as the Keetowah Society officially incorporated without the Nighthawks. By 1902, some 5,000 Cherokee had succeeded in resisting enrollment with the U.S. government, and the Indian agents began making arrests of the leaders. Redbird Smith was arrested and taken to Federal jail in Muskogee, Oklahoma. Although he finally enrolled, many others did not. The Dawes Commission took the names of those Cherokee who appeared on the Census of 1896 and enroll them without their knowledge or permission.