The Ashburton Guardian. Magna est Veritas et Prævalebit. WEDNESDAY, MAY 8, 1889. OKLAHOMA.
Reference has recently been made m our cablegrams to disturbances at Oklahoma, m connection with a great land rush which has set m thither, and many people who have heard the name of the place, or rather territory, for the first time have been wondering where it is and what all the disturbance has been about. Availing ourselves of information which appears m the leading column of the " Wanganui Chronicle," we are now enabled to tell our readers the story ef the Oklahoma land fever, the circumstances connected with which are described as being as " exciting as anything which has been read of m relation to great gold rushes." Oklahoma, it appears, "is m Indian Territory, and Indian Territory is a tract of country, embracing over 64,000 square miles, set apart by the Government of the United States foi the Indian tribes which have been or may be removed from the states or territories of the Union, as their permanent residence. The policy of the Government has been to ' secure to the various tribes separate reservations m this Territory, where they would be free from the encroachment of the whites, and under the general superintendence of the Government. Tbe Territory is bounded on the north by Colorado and Kansas, on the east by Missouri and Aikansas, on the south by Texas, and on the west by Texas and New Mexico. For years the settlers m the West have had their eyes on this fertile but forbidden territory, and about nine years ago a Captain Payne led a parly of ' boomers ' — as the New York papers describe them — into the country, only to be driven out again at the point of tbe bayonet, and almost every year since then has witnessed a constant struggle between the troops of the • United States and those who — as one paper terras it — ' have not been willing to wait for the authority of the law before choosing their homes.' The pressure, however, had recently become so great that a Bill to constitute a new territory out of the western half of Indian Territory, under the style of the Territory of Oklahoma, only failed m the Senate. To get over the difficulty — we quote from the " New York Tribune "— •< an amendment to the Indian Appropriation Bill authorised the President by procla mation to throw open to settlement a tract of more than 6,000,000 acres lying m the very heart of Indian Territory. This includes Oklahoma proper, comprising 2,000,000 acres, and purchases from the Seminole and Greek Indians on the east, amounting to about 4,500,000 acres more. The Government more than twenty years ago pur^ chased these lands from the tribes named with a view to settling other partly civilised tribes there, but the policy * - tiAen abandoned, and the pressure f 8 -, , -« whites to take posof adventurous ..,, „„_,,,„ \ aa session of this fertu* <!0Un1, 7 , has become so great that the lands have been bought, again at the full Government rate m order to obtain the right which did not go with them before— to sell to white settlers. The tract now to be opened is about one- quarter as largo as the proposed Territory of Oklahoma,' In order to the preservation of the rights of the Indians, and for other reasons, some little delay occurred m the issue of the proclamation throwing the lands open for selection. In this interval the excitement became intense. On tbe borders of the promised land an immense army of eager settlers hovered, awaiting the signal to pour m and take possession. Their tents and shanties stretched away for miles, and covered a host of some 50,000 invaders. The anxiously looked for proclamation was not issued until the 21st April, and beforo tbat time it was feared that the people would become reckless and that rioting and bloodshed would be the result. As soon as the landp included m the proclamation were thrown open, there was a grand rush for selections, but tho great mass were doomed to disappointment. Only about 10,000 could get holdings, and many of the disappointed ones were driven to encroaching on the adjoining reserva'belonging to the Indians, with the result that the latter, as stated m a cable message which we published last week, had gone on the war path, In addition to this source of terror, a food and water famine had occurred, and disturbances resulting m bloodshed had taken place."