Oklahoma (Location Key)


The Oklahoma territory to the west of the Mississippi River was the land to which many tribes - including the Chickasaws and Choctaws who once lived in Yoknapatawpha - were sent by the American government during the 'Indian removals' of the first half of the 19th century. Chick Mallison's chronology is faulty when he says in The Town that "the last Chickasaw departed for Oklahoma in 1820" (11), but they were all gone before 1840. Requiem for a Nun shows the last of the Yoknapatawpha Chickasaws leaving for the "Indian territory" (170); one of the first three white settlers in Yoknapatawpha, the son of Doctor Habersham, goes with them. He married a Chickasaw and "in the thirties [i.e. the 1830s] emigrates to Oklahoma with his wife's dispossessed people" (7). The treaty they signed promised Oklahoma to the Indians for as long as the grass grew, but in the 1889 that promise was violated by the rush of white settlers for the land. Faulkner never mentions the 'Land Rush,' but does refer several times to a second betrayal of the treaty. In the "Appendix" to The Sound and the Fury that he wrote in the mid-1940s he writes, wryly, that the U.S. signed the treaty before it knew "about the oil" (325); the first gusher erupted in Oklahoma in 1896, setting off a second rush into the territory. In Light in August Oklahoma is the site of one of Joe Christmas's stopovers during his "fifteen years" of travels, and probably where at least some of the "oil towns" he worked in were located (224). On the other hand, when Jack Houston spends time in Oklahoma during his seven years of travel around the West, he works as "a time-keeper" in a "railroad construction camp in Oklahoma" (234).

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