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Evolution of Oklahoma

  • The Paseo Plunge 3010 Paseo Oklahoma City, OK, 73103 United States (map)

Opening: First Friday In The Paseo

6-10pm Friday, April 1

Closing: Evolution Of Oklahoma: A Talk With Historian, William D. Welge

7-9pm Thursday, May 26

     The Oklahoma History Center and the Melton Arts Reference Library have teamed up for an exhibit using illustrations from Harper’s Weekly and period maps to examine the infancy of our state. 
     In 1830, President Andrew Jackson signed into law the Indian Removal Act which would lead to a series of forced migrations of tribes located east of the Mississippi. The migrations took place from 1831 to 1894, devastating tribal populations including the Chickasaws, Choctaws, Creeks, and Seminole. The 1838-39 removal of the Cherokee people would become known as “The Trail of Tears” after over 4,000 died of hunger, exposure, and disease. 
     This exhibition focuses on the period following the establishment of Indian Territory in present-day Oklahoma to the eventual opening up of the Unassigned Lands through a series of land runs. If a settler could survive on claimed land for five years and add improvements, it would then become theirs, according to the Homestead Act of 1862.
     In 1880, after “Boomers” such as David Payne had continually violated Indian treaties by encroaching onto tribal territory, the United States government enacted the Indian Appropriations Act to allow natives to sell their unoccupied land. In 1887, the Dawes Act forced settled tribes to accept individual allotments, which conflicted with their traditional, communal view of ownership. It also reduced tribal lands. In 1889, President Grover Cleveland signed legislation of the second Indian Appropriations Act that opened up the Unassigned Lands and began the first of the land runs.
     With the help of historian, William D. Welge, we can retrace the years when Indian Territory diminished and our nation’s 46th state emerged.