Tuesday, April 17, 2012

O is for...The Odyssey (Teaser Tuesday) & Oklahoma Land Runs

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

1. Grab your current read
2. Open to a random page
3. Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
4. BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
5. Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

Today's teaser is from Homer's The Odyssey.

"'And I anointed therewith the ears of all my men in their order, and in the ship they bound me hand and foot upright in the mast-stead, and from the mast they fastened rope-ends and themselves sat down, and smote the grey sea water with their oars. But when the ship was within the sound of a man's shout from the land, we fleeing swiftly on our way, the Sirens espied the swift ship speeding toward them, and they raised their clear-toned song.'" p. 703

klahoma Land Rush/Run

On April 22, 1889, about 50,000 people lined up, prepared to risk life and limb to race those around them to claim two million acres worth of land available in Oklahoma. This would be the first of several land runs to occur in Oklahoma, or Indian Territory, as it was then.

Decades before, Abraham Lincoln had passed the Homestead Act of 1862, which allowed settlers to claim a piece of land up to 160 acres, settle it and improve it. If they did this, they would eventually get the title to that land without having paid for the land, itself.

Of course, it should also be mentioned that it was the Indian Appropriations Bill of 1889 that opened this land, formerly belonging to various Native tribes, that really made this all possible. Previous to this government-sponsored land grab, the Boomer Movement had been occurring, wherein groups of people were led into Indian Territory in the attempt to snatch up the most valuable lands they could find and settle them, stealing yet more land from the Native population, which had been forcibly moved to this land and promised that it would be theirs in perpetuity.

Initially, these Boomers were arrested when they made their treks in. They were led by David Payne. William Couch took over when he died. This went on from 1879 to 1884, only to have the Santa Fe Railroad invade Indian Territory a year after Couch stopped leading his expeditions. The Springer Amendment clenched the deal, and Indian Territory became open to settlement.

The government went through and separated the land into allotments, taking first one area, then another. After that initial Land Run, more occurred on the following dates:

September 22, 1891
April 19, 1892
September 16, 1893
May 3, 1895
August 1, 1901, though this was done as a lottery

The folks who lost their homes belonged to the following tribes:

Sac and Fox

The Great Oklahoma Land Rush of 1893 was the biggest, with over 100,000 people hoping to grab 6 million acres. This land was split into 42,000 parcels of land, meaning fewer than half those rushing to grab land were going to get anything.

To up their odds in these land rushes, some would sneak out ahead of time and hide on the parcel they intended to grab. They'd wait until notice was given, then jump up, staking their land. These people were referred to as Sooners. They weren't the only ones who obtained illegally. Many were taken off land they had reached first by force. Others discovered that about fifty U.S. Marshals had come out ahead of everyone else and snatched up choice pieces of land, despite the fact that no government employee was legally allowed to do so. This incident occurred in the 1893 Land Run.

No Indians were allowed to participate, only white folks. The hopeful participants gathered on the Kansas border in whatever form of transit they had, whether that was horse, wagon, foot or bicycle. When the shots were fired, they took off, racing madly for the piece of land they most wanted. Most wouldn't get it.

In the 1893 Land Run, the government had pre-designated Guthrie as the capital of this new territory. By that evening, there were shops and restaurants, set up hastily. Children sold water, as it turned out that water sources were scarce in this land. Food prices were sky-high in those first days, but people were hungry and thirsty, and they would pay whatever it took. Folks worked hard, laying out streets and talking about a tentative government.

Those first rough days saw many people giving up plots of land they had claimed when they found that the soil was mostly sand for quite a ways down. Eventually, though, wells were dug, and the people settled on their land, uncaring that it had belonged to another group of people before they came in and took it.

In 1907, this territory became the state of Oklahoma.

What are you reading? Setting aside who the land belonged to, is this something you would have enjoyed? Could you have nabbed yourself a piece of land?

May you find your Muse.

*Wagon Wheel used as letter O, courtesy of Midnight7 at clker.com
**Caption: Oklahoma Land Rush. en:John Sherwood is on the white horse. en:Elias McClenny is ahead of John. en:Fred McClenny is just behind John., Source: McClenny Family Picture Album], By Chris 73 at en.wikipedia [Public domain], from Wikimedia Commons
***"The Oklahoma Land Rush, April 22, 1889." John Steuart Curry, artist. Commissioned 1937, installed 1939.[1] FWA:PBA:Paintings and Sculptures for Public Buildings. Painting depicting race involving people in wagons, on horseback, and a bike to stake claims on land plots. One of the wagon canvas's says "Oklahoma or Bust." Building and city not identified., Record creator: Roosevelt, Franklin D. (Franklin Delano), 1882-1945, ca. 1937, Current location: National Archives and Records AdministrationLink back to Institution infobox template, Franklin D. Roosevelt Library (NLFDR), 4079 Albany Post Road, Hyde Park, NY, 12538-1999., Wikimedia Commons


Unknown said...

The Native Americans native to our part of the country were Oneida -- good day for them to be remembered.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

That's a lot of tribes who lost their lands.

Libby said...

So funny that you chose to do the Od today. I just finished the Iliad and made myself wait to read Od. Couldn't handle that much Homer.

fidel said...

I think everyone is tired and losing steam...

Sean McLachlan said...

I do believe some African-Americans participated in the land rush as well, so it wasn't totally "white's only". But yes, it was a rush for stolen land.

Debra Harris-Johnson said...

Sean I am certain you are mistaken about African Americans participating. If you look at the dates you will remember we had a little property problem of our own. Basically we were property (slavery) and it was against the law for Afircan Americans to purchase property at this time because we were considered property.
This was one of the saddest times in our nations history. I hope you follow this up with something on the "Trail of Tears." Great post as always.

Gossip_Grl said...

I loved reading the Odyssey. Interesting story. The American Indian suffered greatly during the time of reparation. I can't even imagine if we returned to a way of Landgrabbing. I imagine somthing like that could possibly spark something similar to the Civil War again.

Christine Rains said...

Wow, that's horrible about the land runs. All these things about history we never learn in school.

David M. Brown said...

I want to learn more about American history especially involving the Native Americans. I have "Bury My Heart At Wounded Knee" on my TBR pile but I'm expecting a very difficult read :(

Shelly said...

It's barbaric for people to believe that they're superior or God gave them the right to steal from another people.

I remember studying the brutality of Indians in the college I attended.

Unknown said...

It's really sad how the Native Americans were treated. People are too greedy for their own good :(

Fellow A-Z Buddy
Doing a monumental blog catch-up
Mithril Wisdom

Andrew Leon said...

It makes me sad. :(

Shannon Lawrence said...

Kathleen, thank you for remembering the Oneida!

Alex, and they had already lost their original homelands to begin with, for the most part.

Libby, I prefer The Od, but I can understand spreading out the Homer.

Fidel, that's the way it goes, but it feels so good when you finish!

Sean, I'll have to look that up.

Debra, I tend to think you're right, but it did make me curious. I did follow up with Trail of Tears; had to!

GG, I wonder how much we don't know about the things we do in other countries. How do we get land for military bases? Is it granted to us? And what about imminent domain, where the government can force people out of their homes to do what they want to do with that land? It's different, but I think it still exists in different ways.

Christine, so true. Far and Away said a little about land grabs, but didn't cover this half of it. They didn't care who lost their homes for other people to have their dreams.

David, I haven't been able to read it. I just can't bring myself to, but I need to.

Shelly, it is barbaric, and it's still going on today in different ways, different regions. I'll never understand it.

Jamie, people are definitely greedy. It's sad what we do to others to get what we want.

Andrew, me, too. :(