Another account, from Noah Armstrong, recalled the precarious relationship between U.S.
soldiers and Native American hunters:
[W]e came upon a smouldering [sic]
campfire and the remains of a buffalo . . . . [and] a row of
Indians going down the path single file. We opened fire as we
were accustomed to doing and killed two of the Indians . . .
. [and] chased them right on into a white camp and found to
our dismay that we had been chasing Government Indians . . .
sent out with United State Officers . . . to show them how to
hunt buffalo. We . . . [had] to go into court over killing the
Indians, but it was settled in our favor.
The killing of buffalo reduced the number of resources available
to independent Native Americans. For many Native Americans, the
federal governments reservation system became the only means
President Grover Cleveland noted the national obligation in his
inaugural address in 1885: The conscience of the people
demands that the Indians within our boundaries shall be fairly
and honestly treated as wards of the Government and their education
and civilization promoted with a view to their ultimate citizenship
. . . Citizenship, however, remained almost sixty years
In the meantime, the Dawes Act of 1887 dissolved many Indian
reservations. An 1888 report from the Indian Rights Association,
Condition of Affairs in Indian Territory and California,
questioned Americas treatment of Native Americans: The
whole management of Indians has been abnormal . . . Everything
is controlled by arbitrary laws and regulations, and not by moral,
social, or economic principles. The report concluded that
opening Oklahoma up to settlers and moving Native Americans farther
west would be unjust, cruel and disastrous.
Nevertheless, the federal government opened Oklahomas unoccupied
lands to white settlers in 1889. Four years later, the government
purchased more than 6 million acres from tribes to pave the way
for the Oklahoma land rush.
An audio recording of an interview
with an Oklahoma settler includes a description of the violence
that occurred between whites and Native Americans in the years