On September 16, 1893, a shot rang out and more than 100,000 settlers raced to stake a claim on one of 42,000 homesteads in the Cherokee Outlet. The largest of the Oklahoma land runs, the 1893 run opened more land than any other individual run. The land run that resulted created about 42,000 homesteads and towns such as Enid, Perry, Woodward, and Alva. If you travel to Stillwater, Oklahoma, or its surrounding areas, there remains a sense of pride in the pioneering spirit that founded that part of the state. Where did this land come from though? To whom did it belong prior to the land run? The answer is the Cherokee Nation.
In 1835, the Cherokee Nation acquired not only the lands lying within the present-day jurisdictional boundaries of the Cherokee Nation but also the Cherokee Outlet, the Neutral Lands in Kansas, and the Cherokee Strip. The Cherokees lost the Neutral Lands in Kansas and the Cherokee Strip following the Civil War, due to the Reconstruction Treaty of 1866. At that time, the Cherokee Nation remained in possession of the Cherokee Outlet. The Outlet, sometimes erroneously referred to as the “Cherokee Strip,” was a rectangular-shaped tract of land containing about 6.5 million acres and lying between the 96th and 100th meridians. Although it comprised much of what is now northwestern Oklahoma, the Outlet did not include the Oklahoma Panhandle.