It's a Swindle Uncle Sam Style
September 24, 2003
It’s a swindle Uncle Sam style this week on the Oklahoma Audio Almanac.
Hello, I’m Steven Knoche Kite.
In August of 1883 the Iowa Tribe received, by order of the President of the United States, almost three hundred thousand acres of land located near the middle of what is now Oklahoma. This land was granted by President Arthur for the permanent use and occupation of the Iowa Tribe. Less than six years later federal commissions entered Indian Territory, once again, attempting to take that permanent gift away.
As explained to the Iowas by various commission members, “sooner or later whites are going to take over the land anyway, so it might as well be with the agreement of the tribe rather than force.” In actuality, the commissioners realized that if they could get just one tribe to agree to give up their reservation then others would follow more easily. They chose to begin this process with the smallest and least politically savvy of the tribes, the Iowas. The Iowas did not give in as easily as expected but soon caved in to the pressure of the politicians from Washington. Each member of the tribe was allowed to choose eighty acres from anywhere in the reservation. The Federal Government agreed to pay the Iowas then thirty-eight cents for each of the remaining 270,000 acres. The tribe reluctantly signed the contract and moved to their allotments. The collapse of the Iowas did indeed lead to other tribes folding before the onslaught of pressure from Washington. Between August of 1889 and September of 1891 the Pottowatomie, Sac and Fox and Shawnee nations all made agreements similar to the contract that the Iowas held: land was set aside for individuals with the remainder purchased from the tribe for around thirty-eight cents an acre.
It was these contracts that allowed for the second of Oklahoma’s land runs to occur.It was in this week of 1891 that over 20,000 participants lined up around the border of the lands in a race for the less than 7,000 available homestead sites. With the race over and the land settled, the U.S. Government, which had just purchased the land from the tribes for thirty-eight cents an acre, offered it to the homesteaders for $1.25 to $1.50 an acre. Regardless of the morals or lack thereof involved in the process, it was on September 22nd that the Iowas, Sac and Fox, Shawnee and Pottowatomies stepped aside to allow for the land run 1891.
The Oklahoma Audio Almanac is a joint production of Oklahoma's Public Radio and the Oklahoma State University Library.