Saturday, September 16, 2017

the last book I ever read (Killers of the Flower Moon: The Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI, excerpt four)

from Killers of the Flower Moon: The Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI by David Grann:

The Osage had seen what had happened to the Cherokee Outlet, a vast prairie that was part of the Cherokees’ territory and was near the western border of the Osage reservation. After the U.S. government purchased the land from the Cherokee, it had announced that at noon on September 16, 1893, a settler would be able to claim one of the forty-two thousand parcels of land—if he or she got to the spot first! For days before the starting gate, tens of thousands of men, women, and children had come, from as far away as California and New York, and gathered along the boundary; the ragged, dirty, desperate mass of humanity stretched across the horizon, like an army pitted against itself.

Finally, after several “sooners” who’d tried to sneak across the line early had been shot, the starting gun sounded—A RACE FOR LAND SUCH AS WAS NEVER BEFORE WITNESSED ON EARTH, as one newspaper put it. A reporter wrote, “Men knocked each other down as they rushed onward. Women shrieked and fell, fainting, only to be trampled and perhaps killed.” The reporter continued, “Men, women and horses were laying all over the prairie. Here and there men were fighting to the death over claims which each maintained he was first to reach. Knives and guns were drawn—it was a terrible and exciting scene; no pen can do it justice….It was a struggle where the game was emphatically every man for himself and devil take the hindmost.” By nightfall, the Cherokee Outlet had been carved into pieces.

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