We Know We Belong to the Land - A Hundred Years of Oklahoma and the Congress
Territorial Oklahoma
On April 22, 1889, after years of "booming" by land seekers and corporate interests and despite the opposition of the Indian nations, the "Unassigned Lands" of the Indian Territory were opened to non-Indian settlement. Over 50,000 people participated in the "Run" for homesteads. Congress passed the Oklahoma Organic Act of 1890, which created a government for the new Oklahoma Territory, and stipulated that other opened Indian lands would become part of the territory. During the succeeding two decades, roughly the western half of the old Indian Territory was opened by run, bid, or lottery to non-Indians. Immigrants from north and south, including midwestern Republicans and southern Democrats, poured into the newly-opened lands.

Officials appointed by the President and confirmed by the Senate governed the territory. The governorship was the chief political plum. For all but four years before statehood the Republican Party held the White House, and the GOP thereby held sway in Oklahoma Territory. The party's lengthy hold on this power masked factionalism and jockeying for power among rival groups.
Opening of the Cherokee Strip
Above: An estimated 100,000 men, women, and children made the run for farms and town lots in the opening of the Cherokee Outlet in north central Oklahoma on September 16, 1893.
Tent city in Guthrie, OK

Above: Guthrie, OK on April 27, 1889–only five days after the land run.  Guthrie was the capital of Oklahoma Territory until 1910, when Oklahoma City wrested the seat of state government away. (Courtesy Western History Collections, University of Oklahoma Libraries)

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Copyright © 2007 Carl Albert Center at the University of Oklahoma
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/07 cacarchives@ou.edu
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