Cimarron

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Cimarron is the title of a novel published by popular historical fiction author Edna Ferber in 1929. The book was adapted into a critically acclaimed film in 1931 through RKO Pictures. In 1960, the story was again adapted for the screen to meager success by MGM. Both the novel and 1931 film have fallen out of favor due to perceived racism.[citation needed]

Contents

Background

The Author

Born on August 15, 1885, in Michigan, Ferber had lived through the latter development of the West. She also grew up on the stories of her parents and grandparents, who had moved west from New York many years before her birth. Her writing career began as a journalist, and Ferber published her first novel in 1911. Ferber's early works were mostly light romance. It was not until 1924's So Big that Ferber's career as a novelist came to fruition. That novel, about love and sacrifice in the Midwest, earned Ferber a Pulitzer Prize. She then immersed herself in historical epics, following So Big first with Show Boat, based on and around the Mississippi River, and then with Cimarron in 1929.

The Land Rush

The Oklahoma Land Rush (also called the Oklahoma Land Race and Cherokee Strip Land Run) plays a pivotal role in both the novel and film adaptations. "Manifest destiny" and the desperation of the settlers involved in the rush provides the opening drama and sets the stage for the twists and turns in the book. Every settler is desperate to stake his claim on the best piece of land (near water).

Cimarron involves two land runs. The first, for the Unassigned Lands, occurred on April 22, 1889. The second, for the Cherokee Outlet (commonly called the Cherokee Strip) occurred in 1893. The piece of land in question had been allotted to the Cherokee people as part of their 1828 treaty, while the rest of the Oklahoma Territory had been open to settlers. As commerce grew across the area of Kansas and Oklahoma, cattlemen became increasingly annoyed by the presence of the Cherokee on prime land that they wanted to use to drive cattle from northern ranches to Texas. Some of this annoyance with the Native people can be attributed to the decision made by the Cherokees to side with the Confederate States of America during the American Civil War. In the 1880s, the government attempted to lease the land for cattle ranching, but the Native Americans refused. Eventually, the Cherokee people did sell the land to the government.

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