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Events of the West (1890 - 1900)

   
1890 Congress establishes the Oklahoma Territory on unoccupied lands in the Indian Territory, breaking a 60-year-old pledge to preserve this area exclusively for Native Americans forced from their lands in the east.
1890 Wyoming enters the Union.
1890

Sitting Bull is murdered in a confrontation at the Standing Rock Reservation when Lakota policemen attempt to arrest him as part of a federal crackdown on the Ghost Dance.

One victim at Wounded KneeFederal troops massacre the Lakota Chief Big Foot and his 350 followers at Wounded Knee Creek on the Pine Ridge Reservation in a confrontation fueled by the government’s determination to stop the spread of the Ghost Dance among the tribes. The incident stands in U.S. military history as the last armed engagement of the Indian Wars.

1890 Congress establishes Yosemite National Park at the urging of naturalist John Muir, who argues passionately for the preservation of its sequoia forests.
1890 Wilford WoodruffThe U. S. Supreme Court upholds the constitutionality of the 1887 Edmunds-Tucker Act, denying that its assault on Mormon institutions constitutes a violation of Mormon religious freedom. At the same time, Congress debates the even more punitive Cullom-Strubble Bill, designed to deny all Mormons the right to vote. In response, Wilford Woodruff, leader of the Mormon Church, issues the "Manifesto," a revelation urging all members of the church to comply with the laws of the land regarding marriage.
1891 Congress passes the Forest Reserve Act, which authorizes setting aside public forests in any state or territory to preserve a timber supply for the future. The law marks the first step in a process that will steadily place more and more Western land in the hands of the federal government while leaving less and less available for private purchase and use. As a result, federal priorities in the West gradually shift from selling public land to managing public resources, from land development to land conservation, and federal regulations become a permanent presence on the once wide open spaces.
1892 Congress extends the Chinese Exclusion Act for an additional ten years, adding a requirement that all Chinese workers in the United States register or face deportation.
1892 A strike by silver miners in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho, erupts in violence, as miners are killed and a security guard barracks blown up. State and federal troops intervene to restore order by locking miners into an outdoor bullpen. The miners' defeat leads to the formation of the Western Federation of Miners in Butte, Montana, the next year, an organization representing mine workers across the West.
1892 Under the Dawes Act, nearly two million acres of Crow tribal land is opened to white settlers in Montana.
1892 John Muir founds the Sierra Club in Yosemite Valley, California, to “protect the nation's scenic resources” and oppose the lumber industry’s encroachments on public forests.
1893

Presidential amnesty is granted to Mormon polygamists, marking the federal government's first step toward closing the book on the "Mormon problem."

Frederick Jackson TurnerFrederick Jackson Turner, a 31-year-old instructor at the University of Wisconsin, declares the closing of the Western frontier in his seminal lecture, The Significance of the Frontier in American History, delivered at a meeting of the American Historical Association held in conjunction with the Chicago Columbian Exposition.

1893 Experts estimate that fewer that 2,000 buffalo remain of the more than 20 million that once roamed the Western plains.
1893 More than 100,000 white settlers rush into Oklahoma's Cherokee Outlet to claim six million acres of former Cherokee land.
1894 Nebraska Congressman William Jennings Bryan -- "The Great Commoner" -- gains national attention as the West's eloquent spokesman against the restrictive economic policies of east coast capitalists, emblemized by the gold standard.
1894 The Carey Act grants one million acres of public land to arid states and territories on the condition they "reclaim" the land by irrigation and sell it to settlers. This attempt to promote irrigation of arid Western lands proves unsuccessful when states find they cannot raise the funds to mount large-scale irrigation projects. Effective land reclamation in the West will require a massive federal investment.
1896 Utah enters the Union.
1896 William Jennings Bryan's "Cross of Gold" speech against the restrictive gold standard makes him the Presidential candidate of the Democratic and Populist parties, but his appeal to rural voters in the West and South does not carry him to the White House.
1896 The discovery of gold at Bonanza Creek, a tributary of the Klondike River near Dawson City, Alaska, sparks the last great Western rush for riches.
1898 The United States annexes Hawaii.
1899 Robert Parker and his partner, Harry Longbaugh, better known as Butch Cassidy and "The Sundance Kid," lead their "Wild Bunch" in a series of bank and train robberies across the West. When they eventually flee to South America in 1901, the era of the outlaw band comes to an end.

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