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October 26, 2007

The Final Shaft of the Creek Nation

62. [INDIAN TERRITORY]. Holdenville Times. Special. [Holdenville, Indian Territory, 1899]. Folio broadside printed in six columns. 55 x 37.6 cm. Creased where formerly folded with small losses affecting a few letters, uniform light browning, slight darkening at bottom from ink offset. Professionally deacidified and backed with thin archival paper. A very nice copy of a rare survival. Even the parent newspaper is reported by OCLC to be held only in film by the Oklahoma Newspaper Project and Oklahoma Historical Society.

            The imprint is interesting for the place and time where it was printed, and the content is exceptional. According to the text, this precedes the printed copies that were coming from Washington, D.C. This is the report implementing the 1887 Dawes Commission principles in the Indian Territory, whereby Creek lands in this case were divided among individuals as part of a scheme to “civilize” the tribes and erase the practice of allowing them to have all their lands held in common. The agreement printed here represents the capitulation by the Creek Nation, one of the Five Civilized Tribes not covered by the original bill, to the principles embodied in it. By all accounts, this process proved disastrous and did nothing more than contribute to the decline and poverty of the affected Native Americans.

            Howard R. Lamar, in The Reader’s Encyclopedia of the American West, pp. 290-291:

The Dawes Severalty Act, also known as the General Allotment Act, was intended both as a means of bringing security and ‘civilization’ to the Indians and as a method of opening Indian reservations to white settlement. Drawn up by Senator Henry Laurens Dawes, it compromised between the Indian’s need for some land and the encroaching white man’s desire for most western land. Passed on February 8, 1887, after nearly a decade of intermittent debate, the Dawes Act gave the president discretionary power to survey Indians reservations and divide them into 160-acre plots for heads of families, eighty acres for single persons over eighteen years of age, and forty acres for minors. (There were no provisions for the unborn.) The Indians were supposed to farm their land, and the size of allotments doubled on grazing land. If an Indian failed to select his allotment within four years after the president directed allotment on any reservation, the Indian agent made the choice for him. Indians who did not live on reservations might choose to settle upon any unappropriated government land.... In its conception, the Dawes Act embraced the most sincere humanitarian, though paternalistic and ultimately misguided, thinking of the time” (Howard R. Lamar, The Reader’s Encyclopedia of the American West, pp. 290-291).

            The Holdenville Times commenced publication in 1896 and ceased about 1910. The newspaper was founded by Isaac Warren Singleton (d. 1940), who earlier published the Indian Journal of Eufaula. ($1,000-2,000)

Sold. Hammer: $1,000.00; Price Realized: $1,175.00

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