December 27, 2006

100th anniversary of land theft

Oklahoma centennial upsets Indians

Customary telling of the state's history, they say, leaves out the taking of their land As the state prepares to mark its 100th birthday next year with parades, fireworks and festivals, the grand celebration is also opening old wounds for some American Indians.

Tribal leaders and academics say the centennial isn't a time for celebration because in 1907, Oklahoma became the 46th state through the dismantling of tribal territories. Those lands once were guaranteed to American Indian nations by the U.S. government but the promises were brushed aside as Western expansion caught fire.

4 comments:

writerfella said...

Writerfella here --
And so here is an item that strikes close to writerfella's heart, as he is Kiowa and his Kiowan people mostly reside here in Oklahoma. 2007 marks two anniversaries, the 120th for The Dawes Act that broke up most of the reservation lands in Indian Territory, and the 100th for the conversion of Indian Territory into the State of Oklahoma. The Dawes Act of 1887, written by Sen. Henry L. Dawes of Massachusetts, authorized the President of the United States (Grover Cleveland) to take accounting of the Native American lands and to divide that area total into allotments of 40, 80, and 160 acres for the individual living Native Americans, depending on age, gender, and marital status. Interestingly, the Five Civilized Tribes lobbied in Washington to be exempted from The Dawes Act, and so they were, appropriately under Section Eight. The 3 million-acre Wichita, Kiowa, Comanche, and Kiowa-Apache reservation, mostly reclaimed from Choctaws and Chickasaws, was dissolved in 1901, with the lands so allotted under The Dawes Act. 3500 Natives received allotments totalling 1 million acres, leaving 2 million acres to be opened for settlement under The Jerome Agreement, which never was ratified by Congress. The Dawes Act was abrogated in 1934. It was enacted as a culmination of the national desires to remove the Native Americans from their lands and finally to assimilate them. Though the Kiowas, Comanches and Apaches were ordered to farm their allotted properties and become ordinary US citizens, no training or seed or plows or livestock ever were provided as promised by the US government, and Natives mostly did not become US citizens until the Snyder Act of 1924. Once the lands were allotted, then divided up for American settlement, no provisions existed for Natives as yet unborn, except to inherit undivided shares in the original allotments, which by 2006 means that scores of them now own most 160 acre parcels.
Shall writerfella then find himself celebrating the centennial of the State of Oklahoma? Nope. writerfella is Kiowa. Please note that the Chairman of the Chickasaw Tribe gladly has thrown his support and that of his tribe into the centenary celebrations. writerfella wonders if Bill Anoatubby knows how to spell Quisling?
All Best
Russ Bates
'writerfella'

writerfella said...

Writerfella here --
POSTSCRIPTUM -- Owing to the lateness of the hour, writerfella left out one significant detail. The current Oklahoma state license tags and a spate of TV ads promoting Oklahoma tourism, all use one particular phrase: "Oklahoma -- Native America". The implication is that everyone in Oklahoma is a Native American, regardless of race, gender, nationality, sexual orientation, creed, or religion. If one was looking for a genuine stereotype to point at and decry, that phrase would be it. It works less well if applied on a national basis, however, because Americans, lacking a true and operant culture of their own, mostly identify with their family's world origins. "Oh, I'm part French and part English..." or "I'm half Italian and half Greek..." or "I'm Norwegian and Swedish..." etc. It should go without saying that one cannot be a nationality genetically because the world's nations mostly had lost their tribalism by the middle of the last millennium. Another item would be those who call themselves Muslim or Hindu or Buddhist or whatever, as those are religions and not genetic races. With few exceptions, the only peoples who still maintain their tribal and cultural existences are American Natives, the Australian Abos, the Maori and Tongas, among many others. So, if Americans call themselves by such a name usually as an afterthought, do they really in fact exist? A feast for thinking...
All Best
Russ Bates
'writerfella'

Rob said...

Are you sure Oklahoma isn't honoring its Indian heritage with its license plate slogan? Has there been any discussion on this subject?

writerfella said...

Writerfella here --
At the time the slogan was introduced, it was assailed with complaints by Native people and their leaders. Nothing happened. But when it was announced that the license tag would also include a rising sun, WWII veterans immediately got on their horns and said it dishonored them to have a Japanese wartime symbol (?) on the license tag. That got dropped faster than the Chixalub asteroid!
All Best
Russ Bates
'writerfella'