Wednesday, June 19, 2019

The Oklahoma Land Runs: Myth or Mystery? Part 2

Oklahoma Land Openings Map
Used with permission from the Oklahoma Historical Society

By Alanna Radle Rodriguez and Judge Rodriguez

Thank you for joining us this month as we look into the history of the Oklahoma Land Runs.

Last month, we covered the history leading up to the allowance of white settlement in the Indian Territory by the US government, and of the first or the “Great Land Run”. This month, we are diving into several other of the Land Runs, as there were more than most people think.

After the success of the first Land Run, the federal government was pressured into opening more and more lands within the Indian Territory. Unfortunately, those lands were still in the hands of the tribes that were living there as part of their assignment proceeding the different conflicts, for example, the War Between The States, and the Red River War.

The US government, overlooking the existing treaties, opened the lands up for white settlement over the course of more than a decade, the first Land Run happening in 1889, the final one happening in 1901.

There was a set of five in 1891 which opened of the Shawnee lands, just to the east of the Unassigned Territory (which opened on April 22, 1889). The next four Land Runs, also taking place in 1891, the Shawnee lands became Pottawatomie and Lincoln counties, with Tecumseh and Chandler being their county seats, respectively.

The next Land Run was in 1892, the opening of the Comanche and Arapaho lands in the southwestern part of the state. This Land Run was important as many of the best plots of land that were opened for white settlement were given to the Indian Scouts that served with the army. Many of the scouts were able to take some of the more choice allotments of land as payment for their service to the Army.

"Boomers Camp, Arkansa City, Kansas. Waiting for the Strike to Open
May 1st, 1893"
Public Domain

The next and final Great Land Run was that of the Cherokee Outlet, or the Cherokee Strip, in 1893. This Land Run opened much of the Northwestern part of what is now the state of Oklahoma (minus the panhandle). This Land Run gave us towns such as Enid, Woodward, Seiling, Vici, Slap Out and Laverne.

This Land Run was, in some ways, more famous than the first, as it opened the mostly tall plains grassland, and the arid desert regions of the northwestern part of the state.

When most people think of Oklahoma, they think of the region that is in the north central part of the state, normally. This part of the state is empty prairie lands, as we like to call it “miles and miles of nothing but miles and miles.”

It was after the Land Run of the Kickapoo lands between the Shawnee lands and the Unassigned Territory in 1895, that the federal government determined that the problems that crop up with the large-scale Land Runs was too much trouble. So the large-scale land allotments were handled by sealed bid.

"Land Openings"
Used with permission from the
Oklahoma Historical Society
There were several sealed-bid allotments of land, to include the Kiowa-Comanche-Apache Reservation, the Wichita-Caddo Reservation, and the Big Pasture.

The final Land Run was in the town of Arcadia in the eastern part of Oklahoma County in 1901. It was allowing settlers to choose individual town plots within its district only. The town of Arcadia today has been annexed into Edmond and consists of several homes and one of the man-made lakes, Lake Arcadia.

Thank you for joining us this last couple of months as we looked into the history of the Land Runs of Oklahoma. If you are interesting in digging deeper in to the history of these historic events, please feel free to contact the Oklahoma Historical society, the regional and town Historical Societies, or preferably an older resident of the area you are inquiring about. Thank you, and have a blessed day!

Born and raised in Edmond, Oklahoma, Alanna Radle Rodriguez is the great-great granddaughter of one of the first pioneers to settle in Indian Territory. Judge was born and raised in Little Axe, Oklahoma, the son of A.F. Veterans. Judge and Alanna love the history of the state and relish in volunteering at the 1889 Territorial Schoolhouse in Edmond. Her second published story, part of a collaborative novella titled 18 Rebud Lane, came out March 2019. Alanna and Judge live with her parents in the Edmond area. They are currently collaborating on a historical fiction series that takes place in pre-statehood Oklahoma.


  1. Thanks for the post! I was glad to read that Indian Scouts got some good land in one of the Runs.