Growing up in the West


Remember, Oklahoma was not yet a State! Oklahoma was the edge of the frontier of the United States. We were a WILD LAND!

You might have seen Native American tribal bands (groups of Native American people and families) who had been relocated to Oklahoma from the 1840s to the 1860s. Their homes would be very different than the homes in other parts of the country. They would be made from materials found on the plains and were very efficient.

Tribal cultures are very different from each other, so these homes would also be different from culture to culture. Oklahoma became home to more than 39 tribal governments, most with their own language and customs!

African Americans moved to Oklahoma for many reasons during this time. Some were relocated with the Native Americans being either free members of the tribe or slaves within the tribe.

Other African Americans came to Oklahoma due to the unique laws that were in place after the civil war and before Oklahoma became a state. African Americans formed cities and towns, and owned thriving businesses. They also would have faced the prejudices that were common before, during and after the Civil War.

RELOCATE” in this context means to forcibly move without the consent of those that are moving. How would you feel if your family was forcibly “relocated?”

New settlers to Oklahoma at this time often lived in homes called sod houses or “Soddies.” These homes were dug into the hillside and provided good protection against Oklahoma’s summer heat, storms and winter weather. They were basically a big mud cave.

Would you like this kind of house?

During this time, you would have seen soldiers going from Ft. Arbuckle to Ft. Sill. The soldiers were tasked to watch out for the settlers, cowboys, traders and tribal bands. One of the most famous groups of soldiers in our area were the “Buffalo Soldiers;” a highly awarded group of African American soldiers that were stationed at Ft. Sill. What other tasks would soldiers be expected to perform on the frontier?

If you lived along the Chisholm Trail, you would have seen long rows of cattle and cowboys moving towards the north to Abilene, Kansas. These herds were up to 8,000 head! There are stories that the Cowboys had to wait several days for herds of American Bison to cross their path.

Can you imagine the adventure of going up the Trail for the first time?


Ready to learn more? Click the link below to learn about life as a kid during the Chisholm Trail period.