The Cherokee Outlet, often mistakenly referred to as the Cherokee Strip, was located in what is now the state of Oklahoma, in the United States.
It was a sixty-mile wide strip of land south of the Oklahoma-Kansas border.
It was about 225 miles long and in 1891 contained 8,144,682.91 acres.
The Cherokee Strip was a two-mile strip running along the northern border of much of the Cherokee Outlet, and it was the result of a surveying error.
After the Civil War, the United States required a new peace treaty with the people of the Cherokee Nation due to their alliance with the Confederacy: The new treaty (ratified on July 19, 1866) allowed the United States government to dispose of the land in the Cherokee Outlet: “The United States may settle friendly Indians in any part of the Cherokee country west of 96°… [sale proceeds] to be paid for to the Cherokee Nation…”
The settlement of several tribes in the eastern part of the Cherokee Outlet (including the Kaw, Osage, Pawnee, Ponca, and Tonkawa tribes) separated it from the Cherokee Nation proper and left them unable to use it for grazing or hunting.
Then, Texans began driving their cattle across the Outlet to markets in Kansas.
Soon other European-American ranchers began using the land for grazing.
In the early 1880s, with the support of the Cherokee, the ranchers using the land got organized and began fencing off individual claims.
The Cherokees believed such organization would help them collect rents due them for land use.
In 1883, the cattlemen finally incorporated – under the laws of Kansas – as The Cherokee Live Stock Association. They negotiated a five-year lease for the entire outlet for $100,000 per year, payable semi-annually in advance.
At the end of the five years, the Cherokee Nation Tribal Council put the lease up for bid, hoping to get a better price. The Cherokee Live Stock Association eventually got the bid for $200,000 per year, but the lease was nullified by Congress, which then authorized purchasing the land for $1.25 per acre.
Having previously rejected a bid from the cattlemen to buy the land for $3.00 per acre, the Cherokees protested in vain that the government price was too low. President Benjamin Harrison forbade all grazing in the Cherokee Outlet after October 1890, which eliminated all profit from leasing the land.
After that, the Cherokees sold off the land at prices ranging from $1.40 to $2.50 per acre.
During the 1880s, Bill McDonald, acting as deputy U.S. Marshal for the Southern District of Kansas and the Northern District of Texas, cleared the Cherokee Strip of cattle thieves and train robbers, who had taken to hiding out in what they thought was a kind of “no-man’s land”.
He became captain of the Texas Rangers.
Then the Organic Act of 1890 incorporated the Unassigned Lands into the new Oklahoma Territory.
In 1889, Congress authorized the Cherokee Commission to persuade the Cherokees to cede their complete title to the Cherokee Outlet. After a great amount of pressure, and confirmed by a treaty Congress approved March 17, 1893, the Cherokees agreed, for “the sum of $8,595,736.12, over and above all other sums” to turn title over to the United States government.
Land offices for the upcoming run were set up in Perry, Enid, Woodward, and Alva.
Thus, at noon on September 16, 1893, the eastern end of the Cherokee Outlet was settled in the Land Run of 1893, also more popularly known as the Cherokee Strip land run, becoming the largest land run in the United States and the largest event of its kind in the history of the world.
The land run covered over 6.5 million acres.
More than 100,000 settlers participated, hoping to claim prime land.
This section of land is still known as the Cherokee Strip, and the term has often been applied to the whole of the Cherokee Outlet.
The counties of Kay, Grant, Woods, Woodward, Garfield, Noble, and Pawnee, were all named following the run.
Prior to the run, these seven counties had been assigned the letters K-Q, respectively.
When Oklahoma became the 46th state in 1907, four additional counties (Alfalfa, Ellis, Harper, Major) were created in the Cherokee Outlet using existing land from Woods, Kay, and Woodward counties.
Actual payment did not occur until 1964, when the Cherokees finally settled their claims against the U.S. government for the actual value of the Cherokee Strip land opened to settlement in 1893.
This amounted to about $14.7 million, which was paid to the original allotment holders or their heirs. The tribe also received an additional $2 million in accrued interest.
The films Tumbleweeds, Cimarron based on the novel by Edna Ferber, and Far and Away all have depictions of the 1893 Cherokee Strip land run.
Now WE know em