Fourth graders participated in a dynamic learning activity to help them understand the phases of the settlement of Oklahoma. The classes were split into several roles to act out each stage. The groups were able to experience just a bit of the conflict and excitement of those hoping to stake their claim on the land.
A group of students were assigned to be Native Americans. As the first to settle, they reenacted their forced movement into Oklahoma (the grass area behind the fourth grade classrooms). Indians were forced to march thousands of miles along a "Trail of Tears" to settle in Oklahoma, far, far away from white settlers. Many died along the way.
The second phase of settlement included Boomers, Ranchers, and Railroad Men. Students portraying the Boomers wanted the government to allow settlement in Indian Territory, but most were booted out. Next came the students portraying ranchers from Texas who drove their cattle through Oklahoma to rail lines in Kansas, grazing cattle and putting up fences in Indian Territory. And finally, a rail line was completed across Oklahoma and rail offices and railroad men settled in the state.
Possibly the most exciting part of the reenactment was The Oklahoma Land Run. Students lined up along the government-purchased Indian land for a race. Several "sooners" were able to sneak in before they were supposed to. Other student settlers rode horses, bikes, wagons, and trains into the territory to claim land.