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2008 Catalog > 14. Boudinot, Map of Indian Territory

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An “Excessively Rare Map” of Indian Territory
— Lester Hargett, Gilcrease-Hargrett Catalogue of Imprints

14. Elias C. Boudinot. “Map of Indian Territory” (Washington, D.C.: Julius Bien & Co., 1879). Published in Sen. Ex. Doc. No. 20, 46th Cong., 1st sess. Photolithograph in black and white with boundaries printed in two colors. 15 x 22" at neat line. Sheet: 17 3/8 x 23 3/4". Faint surface soiling; irregular right margin where formerly bound into document.

Price: $2,500. [ Order ]

The mixed-blood Cherokee editor Elias C. Boudinot was a promoter of the Indian cause, but in lectures and various publications, he also urged the opening of Indian Territory to railroads and white settlers. The present map, which he published himself, was one of his promotional tools. It shows Indian Territory divided among tribes, as well as a section outlined in red of some 14 million acres of “U.S. Public Lands” located in the central and southwestern portions of present-day Oklahoma, which had been recently acquired by the federal government and could be used, in Boudinot’s opinion, for non-Indian settlement.

Two letters reproduced in the left portion of the map famously summarize the situation that began to brew over the potential for homesteading on the Unassigned Lands. In the first letter, dated March 25, 1879, Augustus Albert of Baltimore requests more information from Boudinot about the legalities of the “Public Lands.” Boudinot famously replies that the recent laws “leave several million acres of the richest lands on the continent free from Indian title, or occupancy, and an integral part of the public domain.” Boudinot also notes that he created the map in response to the overwhelming interest by homesteaders in the boundaries and location of the purchased lands: “To save the time which would be required to answer the many letters I am constantly receiving upon this subject, I have made a plain but accurate map. . . .”

“The letter and map, widely distributed, were among the chief instruments that started the ultimately roaring rush of settlers to Oklahoma,” notes Hargrett. Following the Civil War, Boudinot entered into dubious promotional deals with railroad lobbyists to encourage the building of railroads across Indian Territory. A decade of such activities led to President Benjamin Harrison’s proclamation on April 22, 1889, opening two million acres of Unassigned Lands to homesteading by U.S. citizens in the first of several Oklahoma land runs. Almost overnight such towns as Norman, Oklahoma City, Edmund, and Guthrie sprang up, and barely a year later Congress created the Territory of Oklahoma out of these lands.

An excellent example of this uncommon and important document in the history of Indian Territory and Oklahoma.

Ref.: Hargrett, ed. The Gilcrease-Hargrett Catalogue of Imprints (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1972), p. 253.

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