Thursday, April 18

We Were There at the Oklahoma Land Run

***Pick up your FREE Activity Pack***

In 1862, Abraham Lincoln signed the Homestead Act, allowing settlers to claim land, providing they lived on the land and improved it.  In 1889, the Indian Appropriations Act was signed by Benjamin Harrison, opening up two million acres of land for settlement.

The land opened was in Oklahoma, where Native American tribes were just resettling about being removed from their lands through relocations such as the Trail of Tears.  In only a few years, seven land rushes took place in Oklahoma, beginning with the most famous Oklahoma Land Run.

On April 22, 1889, approximately 50,000 people lined up with their horses, wagons, and belongings in the dusty morning.  At noon, the gun went off signaling the start of the rush.  By the end of the day, six modern-day Oklahoma counties had been settled!

Prior to the land rushes, cattlemen, railroad men, government officials, and farmers continued to enter the territory and settle there.  Sometimes, military troops found them and forced them to leave.  These men pressured the government to open up the land for settlement, and they were known as ‘Boomers.’

The term ‘Sooner’ comes from those who didn’t want to wait for the actual land rush.  They entered the territory sooner, and established claims.  Surprisingly, many of these men worked for the government, such as marshals and deputies.  It was easy for them to ‘sneak in sooner,’ as they had a right to be there for their job.

Many promises were made to the Native American population, but the rushes brought so many men that new towns sprang up overnight.  Indian Territory continued to be squeezed until it was a small area on the eastern half of the region.  Two new states requested admission to the Union – Oklahoma and Sequoyah (Indian Territory), but they were forced to unite and join as one new state, Oklahoma, in 1907.


Make / Do 

Define / Identify

  • unassigned land
  • acre
  • settlers
  • stampede
  • Sooners
  • Boomers
  • claim
  • Guthrie
  • Edmond
  • Sequoyah
  • homestead

  • Look at a Native American perspective of the Land Run.  Could the Homestead Act and Unassigned Lands been handled in a different way?  How would you change history?
  • About 150,000 families showed up to claim 40,000 lots.  What do you think happened to the families who didn't get a lot?


  1. Such an interesting study. I don't know that I had realized there was a land run in OK. Thanks for the new information.

  2. I think Far and Away was the movie where I first saw the land grab depicted.