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Transcript of Oklahoma Land
Land originally designated for Creeks and Seminoles, but taken for other tribes.
Was never assigned so opened for first Land Run of 1889.
Known as the Unassigned Lands
Homestead Act opened the land during the Civil War.
Made it possible for any American to file a claim to as much as a 1/4 section or 160 acres
If you lived on land and improved it for 5 years it was your land debt free.
"Boomed" most loudly and continuously to open up the Unassigned Lands to non-Indian settlement
David L. Payne was the "Prince of Boomers"
Boomers, Sooners and Oklahoma Territory
In 1870, Federal policy toward Native Americans began to change from removal, treaties, and reservations to breaking up the Indian Nations.
By the 1880's a group called the Friends of Indians, led by Alice Fletcher, believed the Indians would be best served by dividing lands into homesteads as in the white society.
William L. Couch, another famous "Boomer" led 400 settlers to present day Stillwater area and refused to leave, eventually giving up and going back to Kansas.
Dawes SeveraltyAct - 1887
Authored by Massachusetts Senator Henry Dawes
Extended U.S. law into Indian territory but did not include the 5 Civilized Tribes, the Osage, Miami, Peoria, Sac & Fox, Seneca Nation of N.Y. and Sioux Nation of Nebraska
Dissolved tribal ownership, primarily in Western Oklahoma and gave specific amounts of land to each individual Indian.
The Springer Amendment --1889
Tribes had resisted Dawes Act originally so in 1889 a rider to the Indian Appropriation Act authorized payments to tribes of $2.25 million in exchange for dropping claims on Unassgined Lands.
Homestead Act allowed settlers into the region at Noon on April 22, 1889 to claim a Homestead.
"Sooners" were those who crossed the line early and staked a claim on choice land in the territory.
Run for Unassigned Lands
Hundreds of people, wagons, buggies, and animals of all sorts made their way across rivers into the Territory.
50,000 - 100,000 were estimated to have entered and claimed the 2 million acres within a few hours.
"Harrison's Horse Race"
Homesteaders had to find the surveyors stone with the land description, then report it to the filing office and pay a filing fee.
They obtained the title to the land after living and farming there for 5 years.
Fists, guns, coin flips, and courts were used to settle disputes about ownership.
Seminole Townsite and Improvement company came in early and mapped out locations for new towns. (
Oklahoma City had 12,000 people on its first day.
Many towns were started and local governments established quickly. (Guthrie, Edmond, Oklahoma Station, Verbeck(Moore), Norman, Stillwater, and Lisbon(Kingfisher).
In 1890 African American Edward McCabe established the town of Langston. Thousands of blacks were part of the land runs with over 50 all black communities forming.
Settlers might use their wagon as their first home.
If trees were scarce, dugouts or "soddies" served as a home.
Barns often were the first structure built on the land.
Sod houses were insulated and safe from fires; but were also a wet, muddy, mess when it rained.
If the farm was successful, small wood house would be built.
Most farms would later add cellars for food storage and tornado shelter.
Windmills, and cisterns would also be added for pumping and collecting rain water.
The Organic Act
May 2, 1890: Oklahoma Territory is defined as west of the land of the Five Tribes, including No Man's Land.
President Harrison was to appoint a governor, secretary, and 3 Supreme Court judges.
Citizens could elect a 13 member council and 26 member House of Representatives.
There would be 7 counties that the citizens would name.
Until their own laws could be established, they would use the laws of Nebraska.
Lands claimed by Texas were ruled by the Supreme Court as part of Oklahoma Territory.
Greer County was later divided into 4 counties. (Beckham, Jackson, Greer, and Harmon.)
Homesteaders were allowed to keep their land.
Choctaw tribe was compensated for their loss of land.
No Man's Land
The Oklahoma Panhandle had uncertain ownership.
Boundaries of other areas went around it; some thought of it as part of the Cherokee Outlet.
AKA: Public Land Strip and Neutral Strip of Indian Territory.
Though some had already settled there, settlement was not official until it was allowed in 1890.
They named it Beaver County, until statehood when it became Beaver, Texas, and Cimarron Counties.
First Territorial Government
George W. Steele named first governor of Territory.
Robert Martin named secretary.
Steele arrived May 23, 1890 and traveled the territory and set date for territorial elections for legislature.
His first act was to provide for care and custody of prisoners that had been in Lansing, Kansas.
Public schools quickly established with funds from the Organic Act.
2 sections of each township were reserved to fund schools.
Township = 36 1 mile "sections" -- A section had 640 acres.
Universities were established at Norman; an agricultural and mechanical school at Stillwater (Oklahoma A&M); a normal school for teacher training at Edmond.
The capital became Guthrie.
The Cherokee Commision
AKA the Jerome Commision, lead by David Jerome.
President Harrison wanted Native Americans to give up their "surplus lands" since there was a huge demand by white homesteaders.
By 1893, 15 million additional acres became available through more than 11 agreements.
Allotments and the Five Tribes
1895: Congress ordered survey of Indian Territory, a census of Natives and a plan to divide the lands.
1897: Choctaw, Chickasaw, Creek, and Seminole all sign allotment agreements.
1898: Curtis Act - was designed to force remaining tribes to agree to distribution plans and to abolish all tribal governments by 1906.
1901: Crazy Snake Rebellion - Small Creek group led by Chitto Harjo (Crazy Snake) tried to resist agreements and form their own government. Some Cherokee also participated, but efforts failed.
In 1906 Harjo went to Washington to meet President Roosevelt to ask if the treaties signed with Creek ancestors were meaningless, Roosevelt shook his hand and quickly walked away. Harjo received no answer
More Land Openings
Reservations were dissolved.
1891 - 20,000 people ran for lands of the Iowa, Sac & Fox, Potawatomi, and Shawnee tribes.
1892 - 25,000 people ran for lands of Arapaho and Cheyenne tribes. Very rugged land and settlers did not want to stay.
1893 - Cherokee Outlet land run of Tonkawa and Pawnee lands. Approx. 100,000 settlers.
1895 - Kickapoo lands opened - Last of the Land Runs
George Steele (1890-1891) - Resigned and went home to Indiana.
Robert Martin (1891-1892) - Secretary became acting Governor.
Abraham Seay (1892-1893) - 2nd Governor
William Renfroe (1893-1897) - Opened NWOSU in Alva; Colored Agricultural and Normal University in Langston.
Cassius M. Barnes (1897-1901) -Opened prep school in Tonkawa(NOC) and Southwestern Normal School in Weatherford (SWOSU).
William M. Jenkins (May-November 1901)
William C. Grimes (1 month)
Thompson B. Ferguson (1901-1906)
Frank Frantz (1906-1907) - Last Territorial Governor
The Last Land Distributions
Land Lotteries were used for later distributions.
165,000 homesteaders registered at land offices.
300 registration cards were drawn each day. Winners could pick their claim in county or towns where they desired.
Land was divided from Ponca, Otoe-Missouri, Kaw, and Osage tribal lands.
Osage retained all of their mineral rights on lands, thus becoming one of the wealthier tribes in Oklahoma.
The Business of Grafting
A person who uses various schemes - many of them legal - to take land allotments away from the Indians.
Newcomers to the Territory wanted the land, they were willing to pay for the land, and the Indians needed money - especially to buy what the whites sold.
Grafters were involved at every point in the allotment process. They would take the Indians to the land office to fill out paperwork, lease the land from Indians for sometimes 99 years at $10-$15 a year, and then turn around and re-lease it or farm it and make significantly more money on the land.
Grafters would sometimes become guardians of orphaned Native American children who had received an allotment and lease the land, keeping profits for themselves.
Grafters would approach elderly and sick and offer money for land upon death -death claims - which transferred title the moment the indian died.
In 1906 it was estimated that 2,300 death claims were in place.
The primary beneficiaries of the allotment process were not the peoples of the 5 Tribes. The grafters exploited people and their property
Coal, asphalt, and timber were all exported from Oklahoma, but people and their belongings were being imported.
Railroads in a town were good for its economy - could mean a town would boom (El Reno) or go bust (Reno City).
Oklahoma City was crossed by four railroads by 1897.
The freight yards at Bricktown were center of local exports. (cattle, corn, cotton, horses, wheat, etc.)
Inbound trains would be filled with hardwood, machines, and farm equipment.
Shawnee was another big rail center. Grand Depot was built here for Santa Fe Railroad.
Tulsa paid $12,000 to get The Katy to stop there.
interurbans: were short train routes within a town, aka trolleys. These started in OKC in 1902.
Non-Indian population in Indian Territory was 7 times the Indian population.
Non-Indians could not own land or use the schools.
Tribal leaders opposed combining the territories.
1902: Oklahoma resolution requested statehood; Indian Territory resolution against unification.
1905: Five Tribes called for a constitutional convention to create state of Sequoyah.
The State of Sequoyah
Creek leader Pleasant Porter presided.
William Hirt Hastings chaired the committee to draft the constitution.
Constitution had a bill of rights, 3 branches of government, with checks and balances similar to U.S. Government model.
Delegates approved the constitution and sent it to Congress.
Issue was tabled in favor of discussion of unification.
Enabling Act, or Hamilton Statehood Bill (1906) provided for joining the twin territories.
Required people to organize government similar to other states.
Constitution had to: forbid liquor in Indian Territory and Osage nation; prohibit polygamy, guarantee all races the right to vote; & establish free public school.
Guthrie was to remain capital until 1913.
112 delegates met on November 6, 1906 - no women or blacks.
77 counties were organized.
Constitution and State Government
Progressive movement was popular, believed that government could best solve problems in society.
They wanted to break up or regulate large business like railroads.
Supported income tax and a greater amount of say by the people.
3 branches of government set up with checks and balances.
Most state officials were elected by the people, including governor.
Two house (bicameral) legislature.
Planned for legislature to have more power than the governor who could serve only one 4 year term.
Citizens could propose a law or amendment.
Very long constitution was completed after several months; considered very progressive at time but later criticized for being inflexible.
Accepted by popular vote on September 17, 1907.
Charles N. Haskell (Democrat) elected governor.
November 16, 1907: President Roosevelt signed statehood proclamation.
Great celebration in Guthrie and Haskell was sworn in as governor.
Population: 1,414, 177
Indians felt extremely betrayed!
Symbolic marriage of "Mr. Oklahoma Territory" to "Miss Indian Territory"