Skip to Main Content
It looks like you're using Internet Explorer 11 or older. This website works best with modern browsers such as the latest versions of Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge. If you continue with this browser, you may see unexpected results.

University Library, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Farm, Field and Fireside: Indian Lands

A guide to the Farm, Field and Fireside collection of farm periodicals. Covers the subject of Indian lands during the period of allotment (1887-1934).

Creating Indian Territory

Overview

The U.S. government created Indian Territory in 18341 out of present day Oklahoma, Kansas, and Nebraska--an area that, in 1854, the Kansas-Nebraska Act reduced in size to present-day Oklahoma.2 This territory was eventually settled by eastern tribes that had been expelled from their ancestral lands in the East (see Indian Removal Act below).

In Farm, Field and Fireside

None of the periodicals in Farm, Field and Fireside goes back far enough to cover the creation of Indian Territory, and there is little treatment of the territory until the 1870s, when interest begins to swell among potential settlers. Try phrase searches like "indian territory", or "indian country".

Other Sources

S. Doc. No. 61. 21st Cong., 1st Sess. (1830).
Report to the Committee on Indian Affairs. February 22, 1830. Serial Set No. 193, Sess. Vol. No. 2.
A Senate Report to accompany (21) S. 102, the Senate version of the bill that eventually became the Indian Removal Act (also the version that eventually became law).
H. Rpt. No. 227. 21st Cong., 1st Sess. (1830).
Removal of Indians. February 24, 1830. Serial Set No. 200, Sess. Vol. No. 2.
A House Report to accompany (21) H.R. 287, the House version of the bill that eventually became the Indian Removal Act.
"An act to provide for an exchange of lands with the Indians residing in any of the states or territories, and for their removal west of the river Mississippi." May 28, 1830. 21st Cong., 1st sess. Public Statutes at Large of the United States of America, from the Organization of Government in 1789 to March 3, 1845. vol. 4. ch. 148. pp. 411-412.
Also called the "Indian Removal Act."
Public Statutes at Large of the United States of America, from the Organization of Government in 1789 to March 3, 1845. Vol. 4 available online. (For this act, jump to page 457 in the PDF.)
For more contextualizing material on the Indian Removal Act, see the Library of Congress's site, Primary Documents in American History: Indian Removal Act.

Further Reading

Patterson, Sara M. "Indian Removal Act (1830)." Major Acts of Congress. Vol. 2. Ed. Brian K. Landsberg. New York: Macmillan Reference, 2004. 195-197.
Short encylcopedia article.
Foreman, Grant. Indian Removal: the Emigration of the Five Civilized Tribes of Indians. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1953.
The standard, book-length account.
Meyers, Jason. "No Idle Past: Uses of History in the 1830 Indian Removal Debates." The Historian. 63.1 (2000): 53-66.
Satz, Ronald N. American Indian Policy in the Jacksonian Era. Lincoln, Neb.: University of Nebraska Press, 1974.

Opening of Indian Territory

Overview

In the 1870s, Americans began clammoring for access to land in Indian Territory, but the agriculture community was conflicted over whether or not Indian Territory should be opened for settlement. The cattle interest had already established itself in the Territory, leasing surplus land in the west from Indian tribes. The cattlemen opposed any action that would either restrict their access to these grazing lands, or lead to the conversion of pasture into arable by farming settlers.3 See for example the article The Cattlemen in Indian Territory. Other farmers, however, were eager to acquire new lands for cultivation.

In Farm, Field and Fireside

Terms: "indian territory", "unassigned land*", "oklahoma district", "oklahoma strip" (or just oklahoma), "no man's land", "cherokee outlet", "public land strip", "sooners" (Be sure to use quoation marks around "sooners", or else the system will also retrieve articles that only have the owrd "soon").

Try general and specific terms. For example, in addition to "indian territory", try the names of specific tribes in Indian Territory: choctaw, chickasaw, creek, cherokee, seminole, shawnee, potawatomi, sauk, fox, kiowa, "apache of oklahoma", comanche, wichita, cheyenne, arapaho, pawnee, osage, kansa, ottawa, wyandot, seneca, quapaw, peoria, modoc, and shawnee.

For tribe names that are also common words in English, combine with a word like "Indian": creek AND indian*.

Try combining kewords that represent different concepts, like "indian territory" AND cattle*, "indian territory" AND settler*, or cherokee AND homesteader.

Portions of Indian Territory were finally opened for settlement by non-Indians on April 22, 1889 (see President Harrison's proclamation below), resulting in a rush for land by no less than 60,000 settlers on the very first day.4 Try limiting your search to different date ranges, like March 1889 (date of President Harrison's proclamation) and May 1889.

Other Sources

H. Rpt. No. 263. 50th Cong., 1st Sess. (1888).
Organization of the Territory of Oklahoma. February 7, 1888. Serial Set No. 2599, Sess. Vol. No. 2.
A house report to accompany the first version of the Springer Bill, (50) HR 1277. (The second version, (50) HR 10614, finally passed the House on February 1, 1889, but failed to pass the Senate.)
Includes a Map of the Indian Territory.
H. Rpt. No. 2857. 50th Cong., 1st Sess. (1888).
Organization of the Territory of Oklahoma. July 11, 1888. Serial Set No. 2605, Sess. Vol. No.8.
A report to accompanying both versions of the Springer Bill: (50) HR 1277, and (50) HR 10614.
Includes a Map of the Indian Territory.
S. Misc. Doc. No. 80. 50th Cong., 2d Sess. (1889).
Territory of Oklahoma. Notes of hearings before the Committee of Territories, United States Senate. February 19, 1889. Serial Set Vol. No. 2615, Sess. Vol. No. 2.
Senate Hearings on the Springer Bill, (50) HR 10614.
"An act to ratify an agreement with the Muscogee (or Creek) Nation of Indians in Indian Territory." March 1, 1889. 50th Cong., 2d sess. United States Statutes at Large 25, pt.2, ch.317, pp.757-759.
Statutes at Large 25 available online. (For this act, jump to page 804 in the PDF.)
"Indian Appropriations Act." March 2, 1889. 50th Cong., 2d sess. Statutes at Large 25, pt. 2, ch. 412, Sec. 12-13, p. 1004-1005.
After the "Springer Bill", (50) HR 10614, failed to pass the Senate over the objections of the cattle lobby, the House succeeded in opening Oklahoma by attaching this ammendment to the Indian Appropriations Bill for that year. For more information see the article "Springer Amendment" in the Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History and Culture.
Statutes at Large 25 available online. (For these sections, jump to page 1051 in the PDF.)
"An act to provide for allotment of land in severalty to United Peorias and Miamies in Indian Territory." March 2, 1889. 50th Cong., 2d sess. United States Statutes at Large 25, pt.2, ch.422, pp.1013-1016.
Statutes at Large 25 available online. (For this act, jump to page 1060 in the PDF.)
Harrison, Benjamin. "By the President of the United States of America: a Proclamation: March 23, 1889." A Compilation of the Messages and Papers of the Presidents: 1789-1897. Ed. James D. Richardson. Vol. 9. Washington, D.C.: Congress, 1901. 15-18.
Presidential proclamation opening 1,877,800 acres in Indian Territory for settlement. Settlement may begin at noon on April 22, 1889.
Also printed in the Statutes at Large 26, pt.1. [Proclamations bound at the end of the volume.]
Aldridge, Reginald. Life on a Ranch: Ranch Notes in Kansas, Colorado, the Indian Territory, and Northern Texas. New York: D. Appleton and company, 1884.
Reviewed in Farm, Field and Fireside (October 1, 1884, p.16).
See also A Texas Cowboy's Journal: Up the Trail to Kansas in 1868 by Jack Bailey, A Traveler in Indian Territory: the Journal of Ethan Allen Hitchcock, Late Major-General in the United States Army, and Journal of a tour in the "Indian territory".

Dawes Commission

Overview

In 1893 Congress created the Dawes Commission, in an attempt to apply the principle of allotment, as set forth six years earlier in the Dawes Act (1887)--the tribes of Indian Territory having originally been exempted from the provisions of that act.5 Some would-be settlers were so eager to obtain land in Indian Territory that they contracted marriages with Indian women, so as to get hold of land as it was being allotted by the Commission (see the article Choctaw Courting).

In Farm, Field and Fireside

Terms: "dawes commission", "commission to the five civilized tribes". Keep your searches simple. For example, instead of this last search, try commission AND "civilized tribes".

Other Sources

"Indian Appropriations Act." March 3, 1893. 52d Cong., 2d Sess. Statutes at large 27, pt. 2, ch. 409, sec. 16, pp. 645-646.
Congress created the Dawes Commission by attaching this ammendment to the Indian Appropriations Bill for that year: "The President shall nominate and, by and with the advice and consent of the Senate, shall appoint three commissioners to enter into negotiations with the Cherokee Nation the Choctaw Nation, the Chickasaw Nation, the Muscogee (or Creek) Nation; the Seminole Nation, for the purpose of the extinguishment of the national or tribal title to any lands within that Territory now held by any and all of such nations or tribes, either by cession of the same or some part thereof to the United States, or by the allotment and division of the same in severalty among the Indians." Text of the ammendment is available online in Indian Affairs: Laws and Treaties compiled by Charles J. Kappler.
Reports of the Commissioner to the Five Civilized Tribes.
Annual reports for 1894-1920, and other supporting documents, on 3 reels of microfilm. [The Commission itself was legally abolished in 1905, but reports continued to be filed by the Commissioner to the Five Civilized Tribes (1906-1914) and then the Superintendent for the Five Civilized Tribes (1915-1920).]
Perdue, Theda. Nations Remembered: an Oral History of the Five Civilized Tribes, 1865-1907. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 1980.
See especially chapter 8 on allotment, and excellent bibliography.

Further Reading

Debo, Angie. And Still the Waters Run: the Betrayal of the Five Civilized Tribes. Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1940.

Hagan, William T. Taking Indian Lands: The Cherokee (Jerome) Commission, 1889-1893. Norman, OK.: University of Oklahoma Press, 2003.

Other Sources

Perdue, Theda. Nations Remembered: An Oral History of the Five Civilized Tribes, 1865-1907. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 1980.