Taking Indian Lands: The Cherokee (Jerome) Commission, 1889-1893

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Authorized by Congress in 1889, the Cherokee Commission was formed to negotiate the purchase of huge areas of land from the Cherokees, Ioways, Pawnees, Poncas, Tonakawas, Wichitas, Cheyennes, Arapahos, Sac and Fox, and other tribes in Indian Territory. Some humanitarian reformers argued that dissolving tribal holdings into individual private properties would help “civilize” the Indians and speed their assimilation into American culture. Whatever the hoped-for effects, the coerced sales opened to white settlement the vast “unused” expanses of land that had been held communally by the tribes. In Taking Indian Lands, William T. Hagan presents a detailed and disturbing account of the deliberations between the Cherokee Commission and the tribes.

Often called the Jerome Commission after its leading negotiator, David H. Jerome, the commission intimidated Indians into first accepting allotment in severalty and then selling to the United States, at it price, the fifteen million acres declared surplus after allotment. This land then went to white settlers, making possible the state of Oklahoma at the expense of the Indian tribes who had held claim to it.

Hagan has mined nearly two thousand pages of commission journals in the National Archives to reveal the commissioners’ dramatic rhetoric and strategies and the Indian responses. He also records the words of tribal leaders as they poignantly defended their attachment to the land and expressed their fears of how their lives would be changed.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

“Hagan’s book allows us to travel with the commission and watch this disgraceful episode from a front-row seat. . . .A fascinating window into tribal politics.”—Frederick E. Hoxie

“The Cherokee Commission set the stage for U.S.-Indian relations up to this day. This is a truly frightening and infuriating account.”—David LaVere, author of Contrary Neighbors: Southern Plains and Removed Indians in Indian Territory

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780806135137
  • Publisher: University of Oklahoma Press
  • Publication date: 4/28/2003
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 296
  • Product dimensions: 6.30 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 1.20 (d)

Meet the Author

William T. Hagan is retired Professor of History at the University of Oklahoma. His numerous books on American Indian subjects include The Sac and Fox Indians; United States–Comanche Relations; Quanah Parker, Comanche Chief; and Theodore Roosevelt and Six Friends of the Indian, all published by the University of Oklahoma Press.

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Table of Contents

List of Illustrations
1 The Origins of the Cherokee Commission 5
2 Initial Contacts with the Cherokees, Iowas, Sac and Fox, and Kickapoos 18
3 Agreements with the Iowas, Sac and Fox, Potawatomis, and Shawnees - Failure with the Kickapoos 42
4 The Cheyennes and Araphos Brought to Terms 61
5 The Cherokees Revisited 85
6 Agreements with the Wichitas, Kickappos, and Tonkawas 123
7 A Cherokee Agreement at Last 144
8 A Frustrating Eleven Weeks with the Poncas 167
9 The Kiowas, Comanches, and Apaches Fight a Delaying Action 181
10 A Pawnee Agreement 208
11 Running Out the Clock with the Poncas, Osages, Choctaws, and Chickasaws 220
Epilogue 235
Abbreviations 241
Notes 243
Bibliography 265
Index 267
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