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Few writers have written as thoughtfully and extensively on Oklahoma politics and culture as Richard Lowitt. His work of the past six decades moves with ease among historical topics as various as agriculture, health, industry, labor, and the environment, offering an informed and enlightened perspective. Collected for the first time in one volume, Lowitt’s articles on post–World War II Oklahoma and notable Oklahomans reveal a remarkable range of the state’s political, environmental, agricultural, civil rights, and Native American history in the Cold War era. Nowhere else, for example, is the controversy stirred up by Congressman Mike Synar recounted so well, and Lowitt’s analysis of the decades-long battle over grazing rights on federal land clarifies the issues surrounding a topic still in the news today. Likewise, Lowitt’s analysis of Oklahoma’s farm crisis in the 1970s and ’80s extends far beyond the state’s borders, illuminating significant and subtle aspects of an artificially engineered agricultural disaster whose consequences are still felt. His probing of the “enigma of Mike Monroney,” U.S. senator from Oklahoma during the McCarthy period, yields valuable insights into the political nature of the politician, the state, and the times. Other articles span decades, from the development of the Grand River Dam Authority (1935–1964) to the damming of the Arkansas River to create Kaw Reservoir (1957–1976) and efforts to improve Indian health in Oklahoma (1954–1980). Whether discussing environmental and cultural ecology or plumbing the politics of Fort Sill’s entry into the missile age, Lowitt’s articles are broad in scope and unsparing in detail. All based on the author’s research in the Western History Collections at the University of Oklahoma, these essays form an invaluable historical repository, put into clarifying context by one of Oklahoma’s most respected historians.
Progressive Oklahoma traces Oklahoma’s rapid evolution from pioneer territory to statehood under a model Progressive constitution. Author Danney Goble reasons that the Progressive movement grew as a reaction to an exaggerated species of Gilded Age social values—the notion that an expanding marketplace and unfettered individualism would properly regulate progress. Near the end of the territorial era, that notion was challenged: commercial farmers and trade unionists saw a need to control the market through collective effort, and the sudden appearance of new corporate powers convinced many that the invisible hand of the marketplace had become palsied. After years of territorial setbacks, Oklahoma Democrats readily embraced the Progressive agenda and swept the 1906 constitutional convention elections. They went on to produce for their state a constitution that incorporated such landmark Progressive features as the initiative and referendum, strict corporate regulation, sweeping tax reform, a battery of social justice measures, and provisions for state-owned enterprises. Goble is keenly aware that the Oklahoma experience was closely related to broader changes that shaped the nation at the turn of the century. Progressive Oklahoma examines the elemental changes that transformed Indian Territory into a new kind of state, and its inhabitants into Oklahomans—and modern Americans.
A definitive reference explores 119 important aspects of Oklahoma history in this resource that examines each topic by pairing it with one or more maps that include explanatory legends, tables, and graphs, along with an interpretive essay to chart Oklahoma's rich and varied history.
"I never talk to nobody 'bout this" was the response of one aged African American when asked by a Works Project Administration field worker to share memories of his life in slavery and after emancipation. He and other ex-slaves were uncomfortable with the memories of a time when black and white lives were interwoven through human bondage. Yet the WPA field workers overcame the old people's reticence, and American West scholars T. Lindsay Baker and Julie P. Baker have collected all the known WPA Oklahoma "slave narratives" in this volume for the first time - including fourteen never published before. Their careful editorial notes detail what is known about the interviewers and the process of preparing the narratives.
Although many Indian nations fought in the Civil War, historians have given little attention to the role Native Americans played in the conflict. Indian nations did, in fact, suffer a higher percentage of casualties than any Union or Confederate state, and the war almost destroyed the Cherokee Nation. In The Confederate Cherokees, W. Craig Gaines provides an absorbing account of the Cherokees' involvement in the early years of the Civil War, focusing in particular on the actions of one group, John Drew's Regiment of Mounted Rifles. As the war began, The Cherokees were torn by internal political dissension and a simmering thirty-year-old blood feud. Entry into the war on the Confederate side did little to resolve these intratribal tensions. One faction, loyal to Chief John Ross, formed a regiment led by John Drew, Ross's nephew by marriage. Another regiment was formed by Ross's rival, Stand Watie. The Watie regiment was largely por-Confederate, whereas many of Drew's soldiers, though fighting for the Confederate cause, were secretly members of a pro-Union, antislavery society known as the Keetoowahs. They had little sympathy for the southern whites, who had driven them from their ancestral homelands in Alabama, Georgia, North Carolina, Kentucky, and Tennessee. Drew's regiment nonetheless earned a degree of infamy during the Battle of Pea Ridge, in Arkansas, for scalping Union soldiers. Gaines writes not only about the actions of Drew's regiment but about military events in the Indian Territory in general. United action was almost impossible because of continuing factionalism within the tribes and the desertion of many Indians to the Union forces. Desertion was so high that Drew's regiment was effectively disbanded by mid-1862, and the soldiers did not complete their one-year enlistment. Drew's regiment bears the distinction of being the only Confederate regiment to lose almost its entire membership through desertion to the Union ranks. Gaines's solidly researched, ground-breaking history of this ill-fated band of Cherokees will be of interest to Civil War buffs and students of Native American history alike.

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