Red Earth: Race and Agriculture in Oklahoma Territory

Hardback
Before the great Land Rush of 1889, Oklahoma territory was an island of wildness, home to one of the last tracts of biologically diverse prairie. In the space of a quarter century, the territory had given over to fenced farmsteads, with even the racial diversity of its recent past simplified. In this book, Bonnie Lynn-Sherow describes how a thriving ecology was reduced by market agriculture. Examining three central Oklahoma counties with distinct populations - Kiowas, white settlers, and black settlers - she analyzes the effects of racism, economics, and politics on prairie landscapes while addressing the broader issues of settlement and agriculture on the environment. Drawing on a host of sources - oral histories, letters and journals, and agricultural and census records - Lynn-Sherow examines Oklahoma history from the Land Rush to statehood to show how each community viewed its land as a resource, what its members planted, how they cooperated, and whether they succeeded. Anglo settlers claimed the choice parcels, introduced mechanized farming, and planted corn and wheat; blacks tended to grow cotton on lands unsuited for its cultivation; and Kiowas strove to become pastoralists.