Oklahoma Organic Act
By the late-19th century, more settlers than ever flooded into the Indian and Oklahoma Territories. With the first of the land runs occurring in 1889, greater numbers of settlers were staking a claim to “Unoccupied Lands” west of Indian Territory. Amid the increase in white settlement, Congress began discussions about establishing a new territory to encompass the rising population of settlers in the region. Congress’ House of Representatives heard a variety of plans for organizing an Oklahoma District, with the final draft of the bill incorporating most of western Oklahoma and the panhandle.
The bill also outlined the official boundaries of Oklahoma Territory, and a territorial government was erected along with mandates requiring highways, a judicial system, law enforcement, and other provisions directing townships to set aside adjacent properties for public schools. Pottawatomie County was incorporated into the act’s final version, including all the lands purchased by Citizen Potawatomi through the Treaty of 1867. Ultimately, the Oklahoma Organic Act served as just one of many contemporaneous attempts to erode the sovereignty of the Citizen Potawatomi Nation through the encouragement of settlement, eventually leading to Oklahoma statehood in 1907.
Books & Articles:
- Wardell, Morris L., and Edward Everett Dale. History of Oklahoma, by Edward Everett Dale and Morris L. Wardell. New York: Prentice-Hall, 1948.