Thomas Harley Palmer
Born: 22 July 1881 Died: 28 January 1965
Chief Harley Palmer was born in 1881, the son of James L. Palmer and Lizzie Lindsey. He grew up in Indian Territory, near his mother’s Richardville family. He married Ada Moore on December 31, 1901. Ada was of Peoria and Wea descent, the daughter of Mary Isabelle (Labadie) Moore. Through this connection, Ada was a first cousin of another Myaamia allottee, Isadore (Labadie) Smith. Harley and Ada had eight children: Moody, Maxine, Woody, Louise, Mary, James, Gloria, and Blossom. Chief Palmer succeeded his step-grandfather Thomas F. Richardville as Chief in 1910, at the young age of 27. He went on to serve for fifty-three years, overseeing many major changes in the administration of the Miami Nation. At the beginning of his time as Chief, the nation was still under the jurisdiction of the Quapaw Agency, but that was discontinued in 1921. Many tribal members have recalled Chief Palmer visiting their farms on horseback to talk to them. After the Oklahoma Indian Welfare Act of 1936, Chief Palmer had the foresight to fight for the continued self-determination of the Miami Nation by overseeing the ratification of the first Tribal Constitution in 1939. He also led the Miami Tribe’s early efforts before the Indian Claims Commission, which eventually secured individual payments for tribal members. He continued to serve in tribal government until 1963, when Forest Olds was elected as Chief.