April 22, 2017 - The 128th Anniversary of the Oklahoma Ruin

By Gloria Dulan-Wilson

Hello All:

While the rest of the world knows April 22nd as the newly created EARTH DAY - those of us who are from Oklahoma - especially those of us who are Black and/or Indian (Native American to the PCs) know it as the anniversary of the Oklahoma Ruin - the biggest rip off of land sanctioned by the US government, in the history of this country - with the possible exception of the massive loss of homes during  2007-2010 via mortgage backed securities and the Bush Administration's greed-based economic downturn.

Oklahoma was thriving from one end of the state to the other.  It was the only state in the union that was specifically set aside for Indian tribes (and by extrapolation, and just plain old common sense and survival instincts - Black people.   From 1817 through 1889, Blacks and Indians enjoyed the best and most extensive period of peace, privacy, prosperity, and pride in the history of their existence in this country, since the invasion of the white eyes into this country in 1619.

They thrived!! They worked together!  They built communities, schools, businesses.  Their farms flourished; their children were well educated and well dressed. 


There was a great deal of peace and tranquility among our people - and when I say our people, it's because I am a direct descendent of this wonderful historical heritage of Blacks and Indians.

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Apparently whites are only happy when Blacks and Indians are doing badly.  They can't stand it when we're thriving - going about our business, raising our families; loving and supporting one another. They can't stand to see us do well.  

By law, it was illegal for whites to cross into Oklahoma Territory with out express permission of either the government or the chiefs who governed the territory.  So all they could do is look with envy at the tall corn that grew there with ease, the wheat, barley, the beautiful cattle we were raising, the fact that we not only did not need them, did not want them anywhere near us or our families.  

The few whites who lived there were either married to Indian men or women, or Black men or women- and they had no desire to return to the realm from which they had escaped. 

So, the jealousy and ignorance and racism began to rear its ugly head in the mid 1880s as they begin to deplete the land around them, and as their greed and envy grew, they began to lobby Washington for access to Oklahoma.  

They even had the audacity to call it "unassigned lands" as though the Blacks and Indians who resided there were nonexistent our unimportant: 

Land Rush of 1889. The Oklahoma Land Rush of 1889 was the first land rush into the Unassigned Lands. The area that was opened to settlement included all or part of the present-day Canadian, Cleveland, Kingfisher, Logan, Oklahoma, and Payne counties of the US state of Oklahoma.

Of course, I had relatives who were living on those "unassigned lands" who were  pushed to the side as the result of this so called relanguaging of the truth - what T-rump would call alternative "facts." SMH

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OKLAHOMA'S FLAG - Notice that has the symbols of the 5 Civilized Tribes, The Calumet (Peace Pipe) and the Feathers - the Plant Olive Branch is for Peace (Whites violated all that big time)

Old West (from Google - where else?)


The Oklahoma land rush begins

At precisely high noon, thousands of would-be settlers make a mad dash into the newly opened Oklahoma Territory to claim cheap land.The nearly two million acres of land opened up to white settlement was located in Indian Territory, a large area that once encompassed much of modern-day Oklahoma. Initially considered unsuitable for white colonization, Indian Territory was thought to be an ideal place to relocate Native Americans who were removed from their traditional lands to make way for white settlement. The relocations began in 1817, and by the 1880s, Indian Territory was a new home to a variety of tribes, including the Chickasaw, Choctaw, Cherokee, Creek, Cheyenne, Commanche, and Apache.(Note:  As long as they thought it was unsuitable for whites, they didn't care - they pushed the Indians and the Blacks onto it - but as soon as our people began to thrive and grow in those areas - blooming where they were planted, then whites wanted it - as with everything else we succeed in - music, sports, fashion, food, etc.  Oklahoma wss part of the Louisana Purchase, of 1804, which the French gave up after the Haitians kicked their butts and kicked them to of Haiti and sent them packing back to France.  It was sold to the US, which at the time, was the only imperialistic country left in this area - if you don't count the spanish)
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By the 1890s, improved agricultural and ranching techniques led some white Americans to realize that the Indian Territory land could be valuable, and they pressured the U.S. government to allow white settlement in the region. In 1889, President Benjamin Harrison agreed, making the first of a long series of authorizations that eventually removed most of Indian Territory from Indian control.
To begin the process of white settlement, Harrison chose to open a 1.9 million-acre section of Indian Territory that the government had never assigned to any specific tribe.  (LIAR  THE ENTIRE TERRITORY WAS INDIAN TERRITORY) However, subsequent openings of sections that were designated to specific tribes were achieved primarily through the Dawes Severalty Act (1887), which allowed whites to settle large swaths of land that had previously been designated to specific Indian tribes.
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On March 3, 1889, Harrison announced the government would open the 1.9 million-acre tract of Indian Territory for settlement precisely at noon on April 22. Anyone could join the race for the land, but no one was supposed to jump the gun. With only seven weeks to prepare, land-hungry Americans quickly began to gather around the borders of the irregular rectangle of territory. Referred to as “Boomers,” by the appointed day more than 50,000 hopefuls were living in tent cities on all four sides of the territory.
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The events that day at Fort Reno on the western border were typical. At 11:50 a.m., soldiers called for everyone to form a line. When the hands of the clock reached noon, the cannon of the fort boomed, and the soldiers signaled the settlers to start. With the crack of hundreds of whips, thousands of Boomers streamed into the territory in wagons, on horseback, and on foot. All told, from 50,000 to 60,000 settlers entered the territory that day. By nightfall, they had staked thousands of claims either on town lots or quarter section farm plots. Towns like Norman, Oklahoma City, Kingfisher, and Guthrie sprang into being almost overnight.  THEY PUSHED THOUSANDS OF BLACK AND INDIAN FAMILIES OFF THEIR PROPERTIES IN THE BIGGEST LAND THEFT EVER - 
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An extraordinary display of both the pioneer??? spirit   and the American lust for land, the first Oklahoma land rush was also plagued by greed and fraud. Cases involving “Sooners”–people who had entered the territory before the legal date and time–overloaded courts for years to come. The government attempted to operate subsequent runs with more controls, eventually adopting a lottery system to designate claims. By 1905, white Americans owned most of the land in Indian Territory. Two years later, the area once known as Indian Territory entered the Union as a part of the new state of Oklahoma. 

NOTE: (The late Ralph Ellison - another proud Oklahoman, wrote about it when he said that once Oklahoma Territory became a state in 1907, the fate of Black and Indian families were sealed - the racism escalated to epidemic proportions as Texans, Missourians and other came pouring into the state).

NOTE: The Sooners is the name of the football team in Oklahoma - they were named after the thieves who sneaked across the border at night staked their claim, and then sneaked back to be part of the race, having already gotten there.  It's one of the reasons why I have no "love" for the team. SMH I guess it would be the same with those who don't like the fact that DC has the Washington Redskins.  But, I digress - while everyone is talking about Black Wall Street, which was actually rebuilt by the Blacks who lived there, what they don't truly realize that Black and Indians lost so much more with the Oklahoma Ruin of 1889.  They lost their land, their homes, their right to peaceful coexistence in a racist country, and perhaps the right to become the first state to be completely Black and Indian.   Oklahoma once had 67 All Black Towns - of which 13 still remain.  Who knows what we could have become had Harrison not caved in  to the the b.s. of   his white contemporaries.  

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It is said that Ida B. Wells Barnett, who visited Oklahoma on several occasions,  had considered moving to Oklahoma when it was still a Territory because Black people were doing so well there.  

The scanty bit of historical reference I just provided you via Google,  was written from a white standpoint - not from the standpoint of those who actually lived it and were the victims of the Oklahoma Ruin, like my great-grandfather Ben Dulan, (and my great grand mom who was Creek), who had to start from scratch and move to a smaller property in Luther Oklahoma, which is where my Dad, Uncle, Aunts and great aunts all grew up (86 acres, a big step down from the nearly 200 acres he originally had).    The great Will Rogers, whose father was caucasian and mom was Cherokee - were pushed off their lands and ended up having to start from scratch as well.  It appears they didn't like mixed marriages any more than they liked Black or Indian people  - imagine their surprise when later on they nearly had to kiss Will Roger's behind when he became one of the most famous celebrities of the 20's and 30's.  He never forgot what happened to his family, and used his humor to rub it in the faces of whites every time he spoke, acted, or wrote - he's one of my personal heroes).

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So as Oklahomans go around wearing their pioneer gear and bonnets, and pulling their wagons and bragging on 1889, there are those of us who recognize it for what it truly is - the day that white American made it patently clear that Blacks and Indians had no rights that whites were bound to respect - even though they had passed laws saying they did.  Hence the saying, White man speak with forked tongue.

I dedicate this little blog piece to my families - The Dulans, The Washington's,  The Gaines, and The Hornbeaks of Oklahoma - as well as to  all of us who are descendants of those valiant Black and/or Indian families who gave us a legacy that shall never be forgotten.

BTW:  The biggest comeuppance for us was during the Dust Bowl of the 1920s and 1930s.  To show how ignorant whites are - they invaded in 1889, and it took them less than 40 years to deplete the land so that it would not grow or produce.  John Steinbeck talks about it in the Grapes of Wrath -the Joads - a family of PWT - who left Oklahoma to go to California, after their ignorant behinds had ruined what had originally been fertile land.  While Steinbeck was trying to make us feel sorry for them, all we could do (in our great book series in schools) was laugh at the fact that whites left Oklahoma after messing things up - which is what they usually do.  But guess who didn't leave Oklahoma?  We didn't - The Black and Indian families who knew ow to farm remained and continued to grow and thrive - 

The sad thing is this - Oklahoma is a victim of more rip offs and hypes than ever before.  Now, instead of growing their own produce, they're going to the supermarket just like people from other states, and paying exorbitant prices for things they used to grow in their back yards.  

They've fallen prey to the repuglycons and are now lagging behind in so many ways - as these miscreants continue to cannibalize what was once a proud territory of Blacks and Indians.  My consolation is that most Blacks who live there  - including my family - have not forgotten who and what they are - well at least my peers haven't.  My Mom Ruby Love, the militant of the family made sure we knew the truth - her dad had 187 acres of land that she and her sisters grew up on.  Her dad,my grandfather Enoch Gaines, a Fine Black Man,  prevented them from grabbing it by sheer force (but that's another story for another day).  

Interestingly enough, it still goes on - if you look on Google Images for Oklahoma, you see none of the FIVE CIVILIZED TRIBES depicted there; when they talk about points of interest, they never mention Anadarko (Indian Village); nor do they mention LANGSTON University, which is situated in one of the few remaining all Black towns of Langston, Oklahoma.  To say nothing of the mud huts and other relics from the original Black settlers of Oklahoma Territory.  


As you walk through the Oklahoma Ruin Celebration, which is by now in full swing in Oklahoma City, you may see  misguided, ignorant  Blacks walking around wearing jackets that say "Buffalo Soldiers," not realizing that it's an affront to those Indians who are the descendants of those who saved Black Africans who were kidnapped into slavery from enduring the fate of living on a plantation in chains.  Buffalo Soldiers were called by that name because their skin color was deep brown like that of the Buffalo - after the Civil War ended, whites turned their attention to genocide, and wiping out the Original Americans who stood between them and ripping off other parts of the US as part of their bogus "manifest destiny" (more like maniacal destiny) of conquering all of America for themselves.  So they hired Blacks who had fought in the Civil War to do their dirty work for them. And, unfortunately, a combination of desperation for money and an opportunity to prove to whites that they were "worthy" the brothers fell for it, hook, line and sinker - and begin the task of slaughtering Indians and the buffalo as well.  Rather than something to be proud of, it's a mark of ignorance and shame in my book and those of my family who were likewise victimized. 

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The reason I write about this every year is not just because I'm perpetually P.O.'d whenever April 22 comes around, but because I realize that we are now in the 21st century and still have yet to devise a means by which we can fully protect who we are as a people, what we have, what we develop, or what we own from these rapacious people. The Indians have not,Africans have not, South American Blacks have not; Caribbean Blacks have not, African Americans have not - and, truth be told,  the Native Americans may actually be living on borrowed time if whites  ever find a way to get the casinos from them.  

Marcus Garvey had a broad appeal for Black people in Oklahoma, especially those who owned their own farms.  They were already in the motion of moving towards autonomy, after having obtained land via other means in less desirable parts of Oklahoma.  So they supported him.  But, when Marcus Garvey helped Black Americans  develop their own businesses, homes and educational system - whites went on the offensive.  To show how incensed they are, they  killed proponents, including Malcolm X's father; and harassed people who supported Garvey.  And while he kept on educating and motivating and energizing Black people, he also realized that as long as they were here in the United States, they would always be under threat.  It was for this reason he devised the concept of Black people returning to the country from which they originated - taking their skills, talents and abilities and sharing it with their brothers and sisters in Africa.  When 12 million Black people said, "YES!! LET'S GO  BACK TO AFRICA!" Whites went ballistic!! Whites in London with the Goodyear Rubber plantations in Africa were so afraid that Black would come back and teach Africans how to harvest and develop their own rubber, they contacted America and said they had to be stopped.  So they conspired with the US to do so.


And I presume white Americans were afraid they would have no more Black folks to lynch, and would have to get back to lynching each other; no more Black women to rape, so they would have to get back to dealing with their own women; no more servants to do their dirty work, so they would have to do it themselves.   The upshot of it was, as with the Oklahoma Ruin, they found a way to undermine, divert, destroy, and confiscate something we had built and were succeeding in  - our own move to self empowerment, autonomy and repatriation to our own homeland. 


Of course, I could go on and on with this train of thought, folks, but that's not the point. The point is that you/I/we have to make sure that we dot all our "i's" cross all our "t's", and have contingency plans 1through 100 ready for when they come at us.

We need to be about the business of both obtaining reparations, as well as co-buying our own properties and building up our own neighborhoods, schools, health systems, and consolidating our economic wherewithal, our votes, our rights.  It is a lead pipe synch that when we do, when we really get serious and show progress, they are going to try to find a way to involve themselves (to undermine from the inside); or sabotage, or otherwise block what we are doing. 

But let's make this the time when "Ain't No Stopping Us Now" is more than a song, but a battle cry - get our lawyers and  or warriors and our planners together to build strategies so that we not only succeed, but have the means by which what we do remains ours and in the hands of our prodigy for generations to come.  Let's not give them something to celebrate in the future about yet another time when they defeated and deprived us of something that truly belonged to us.  

Stay Blessed & 
Gloria - Still An Oklahoma Kid 

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