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BOOMERS ON STATE LINE, 1889

In 1887 the United States Congress passed the General Reallotment Act (or Dawes Severality Act), mandating that Indian Territory lands be divided up. Each Indian would receive 160 acres. The "surplus" land ­ most of Indian Territory ­ was opened to white claimants entitled to stake out their own 160-acre claims on a first-come basis. The Oklahoma Land Rush began on April 22, 1889. At the sound of a pistol shot, thousands of settlers lined up on the state line raced in to claim nearly two million acres of land formerly owned by the Creek and Seminole Nations. The state nickname of "Sooners" came from that Land Rush, describing those who "jumped the gun," to stake their claims sooner than the official start. Within a few months, there were 100,000 whites in what had been Indian Territory, outnumbering the native inhabitants and changing their way of life forever.

dawes act
 

OKLAHOMA HISTORICAL SOCIETY

A Moira Productions Film in association with Datline Productions, 2008, Lillian Lincoln Foundation