The human costs of the war devastated many Native American communities. During the war, for example, the Cherokees' western population declined from about 21,000 to 13,566. An estimated 1,500 Creeks lost their lives during the war. Mortality rates only tell part of the story. The physical upheaval of the war also left many communities divided and geographically dispersed. At the end of the war, for example, there were about 2,000 Native American refugees in Kansas and another 7,000 at Fort Gibson in Indian Territory. During the war, the U.S. government estimated that there were almost 14,000 Indian refugees. They included an estimated 2,906 Cherokees at Tishomingo, 574 Seminoles near Fort Washita, and about 5,200 Choctaws and Chickasaws who were scattered in Indian Territory. One-quarter of the nation's Indian children were technically orphans. Rebuilding Native American communities, like other communities elsewhere in the war-torn nation, also proved difficult, especially as the Indian Territory was virtually overrun by deserters near the end of the war. Gangs of lawless soldiers—from the Union and Confederate armies and from Indian and non-Indian backgrounds—indiscriminately looted, burning homes, barns, and stores and stealing cattle and other assets. The property of many Native Americans was destroyed or looted, there was little in the way of wartime harvests, and approximately 300,000 head of cattle were killed or stolen from their Native American owners. One Creek Indian commented that their land was all they had left ''and that was because, of all Creek property, only the land was immovable'' (Bailey 2006, 45).
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