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Chronicles of Oklahoma
Volume 3, No. 2
June, 1925
Report of the Committee on Agriculture

Page 137

[39] The Committee to whom the duty was assigned of reporting upon the Agricultural interests and resources of the Indian Territory regret to say that they have no data upon which to estimate even approximately the quantity of land in cultivation within the limits of the Indian Territory.

The Creeks, Cherokees, Choctaws, Chickasaws, Seminoles, Shawnees, Delawares, Senecas, Quapaws, Ottawas, Wyandottes, and the Confederated Peorias, Weas, Piankeshaws, and Kaskaskias are an agricultural people and rely upon the cultivation of the soil and the raising of stock for their livelihood, and the Sacs and Foxes, Osages, and others are making commendable progress in that direction. The extent of their farms vary from a few acres to two and three hundred, and in one instance in the Chickasaw Nation, in the fertile valley of the Washita, to more than two thousand acres. While there are many farms sufficiently large, the majority of them might be increased with great advantage. The interest in this respect is growing, and since the close of the war to the present time, there is a marked progress in the general improvement in the buildings and farms among the [40] Indian people. In these respects there is wide room for further advancement and this we confidently expect to witness, whenever the constant agitations in Congress and elsewhere, which so much disturb the security of the people and discourage all their efforts to improvement, shall cease.

But notwithstanding all adverse influences the condition of the people is not stationary, but progressive—The idea which obtains to a considerable extent in even otherwise well informed circles remote from the homes of the Indians; that they live by hunting, fishing and trapping is entirely erroneous so far as applied to the Nations and Tribes enumerated above. They are settled and not nomadic in their habits, and rely upon the cultivation of the soil for their subsistence. Their advancement is not all that we could desire, but is an earnest of the things in the future, and shows a susceptibility for further improvement, and with proper efforts, the native ability to reach a genuine civilization. A

Page 138

large area of the inhabited portion of the Indian Territory is well adapted to the use of improved agricultural implements. Their introduction as yet is limited, but perhaps equal to what should be expected when it is borne in mind how much men are apt to do as their fathers did before them; as their neighbors do around them, and as the limited means at their disposal allow. Reapers, mowers, and threshers of different patents are seen in some places, while improved plows for turning prairie land and working crops, are found in large numbers. We would desire to impress the people of the Territory engaged in agriculture with the importance of giving more attention to the subject than is now done. Good implements well and timely used lighten the burdens of labor, impart a real pleasure to employment, and larger increase of results. They relieve both men and beast and directly increase the value [41] of time, by increasing its results. The crops which can be profitably grown in the soil and climate of the Territory are nearly all those adapted to a rich soil and temperate latitude. Corn is the staple crop, and even under our somewhat defective plan of culture yields upon art average from thirty to sixty bushels per acre. In favorable seasons it does well in all portions of the territory. Wheat is not so generally grown as it should be, chiefly, we apprehend because of the scarcity of mills for the manufacture of flour. The Cherokees, perhaps, grow more than any Nation in the Territory. The average yield is about fifteen bushels. It has been known to yield as high as forty-two. But few farmers there, however, prepare the soil and seed it down with the care the crop demands. South of the Canadian and on the Arkansas and Red rivers, and the uplands intervening, cotton was formerly extensively cultivated, and yeas the most valuable crop of that region. We hope yet to see it again whitening large and well tilled fields and bringing in treasure and wealth to our brothers of the Choctaw and Chickasaw Nations. The Chickasaw crop this year being estimated at five thousand bales. Tobacco is extensively grown.

Of the grasses, we need say but a word—our prairies furnish, all that is now to be had and all that seems to be cared for. Clover and timothy do well and would even now repay their cultivation. Blue grass also succeeds well and will be as much at home in some portions of the Territory

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as it is in Kentucky. Rye and oats do well all over the Territory so far as your Committee is advised, a species of the former being indigenous to the soil and affording excellent winter pasturage. Potatoes, beans, pumpkins, upland rice, turnips, cabbage, onions and nearly all garden vegetables in suitable soil and with seasonable culture grow to perfection. In horticulture with some [42] exceptions, we are lamentably behind the times. So far as tested no finer apples are grown in United States than some we have seen from orchards in Indian Territory. North of the Canadian and Arkansas rivers, peaches, pears, plums and cherries succeed; while the smaller fruits, such as strawberries, raspberries, blackberries and grapes are to the "manor born."

Your Committee would be much gratified to be the means of awakening a general interest upon the subject, and stirring up the people more generally to the cultivation of the more desirable kinds of fruits. There is pleasure in the pursuit, and health and profit in the results of horticulture.

As regards the domestic animals of the Territory, we need scarcely remark that stock raising must furnish occupation for a large number of our people. It is adapted to their habits, and to our climate, and will be the source of the largest profit to those who embark in it. The number of domestic animals and the quality of their breeds have been sadly reduced and deteriorated by the War. Large and magnificent herds of cattle have entirely disappeared from our prairies, and the accumulation of forty years vanished into nothingness. But the grass still grows and the waters run inviting and urging our people to untiring efforts to renew their herds of cattle, horses and hogs, and flocks of sheep and goats. Money, food and raiment stimulate them to start again in pastural [sic] life, and to get the best improved breeds of all kinds of stock, that may be within their means.

In conclusion your committee beg leave to say that as agriculture and its kindred branches horticulture and stock raising should and must constitute the chief pursuits of the great majority of our people; [43] every means in our power should be adopted to foster and encourage them. Even now

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they have every inducement to increased care and exertions in those directions. Markets are now brought to our very doors, or soon will be by the extension of railroads, the increase of travel through our Territory, and the teeming population that moves with resistless activity around our borders. Everything that we can produce beyond our own consumption is, and will continue to be, in demand. The country which we possess, the homes we occupy are our own and the heritage of our children, by every right known and. respected of men. Let us diligently improve and use them remembering our own responsibility in the premises, and the duty we owe to those who may come after us. Even the that they have carefully considered said subject and beg log cabin is more stable than the lodge set up with poles and covered with straw and buffalo hides. The people who have homes and cultivated fields, and orchards are more secure from intrusion and aggression than those who have no fixed residence or abiding place. This is our only home in it we must thrive and increase or diminish and perish. Either result is largely within our own control. As we choose for have it, so will it be.

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