|Indian Territory / Canadian County, Oklahoma, USA|
Aerial view of Fort Reno, 1891.
|Wood, stone, & brick|
|Controlled by||United States|
|Battles/wars||Indian Wars on the Southern Plains; Remount Station, World War I & World War II; German Prisoner of War camp, World War II.|
Fort Reno was established as a permanent post in July 1875, near the Darlington Indian Agency on the old Cheyenne-Arapaho reservation in Indian Territory, in present-day central Oklahoma. Named for General Jesse L. Reno, who died at the Battle of South Mountain, it supported the U.S. Army following the Cheyenne uprising in 1874.
Following the Indian Wars the fort remained to protect the more peaceful Five Civilized Tribes from the Plains Indians farther west. Soldiers from Fort Reno also attempted to control Boomer and Sooner activity during the rush to open the Unassigned Lands for settlement. Among the units stationed here were the famed Ninth Cavalry of Buffalo Soldiers.
After Oklahoma statehood in 1907, the post was abandoned on February 24, 1908, but remained as a U.S. Army remount depot until 1949. Today, the grounds of the old fort are home to the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Grazinglands Research Laboratory. The laboratory's mission is to develop and deliver improved technologies, management strategies, and strategic and tactical planning tools which help evaluate and manage economic and environmental risks, opportunities, and tradeoffs, for integrated crop, forage, and livestock systems under variable climate, energy and market conditions.
The fort lent its name to the nearby city of El Reno, Oklahoma.
Fort Reno was added to the National Register of Historic Places (#70000529) in 1970.
An executive order in 1883 officially identified the area assigned to Fort Reno as 9,493 acres (38.42 km2) in the Cheyenne and Arapaho reserve, "setting apart for military purposes exclusively of the tract of land herein described." A presidential proclamation (27 Stat., 1018) signed April 12, 1892 by Benjamin Harrison extinguished all Cheyenne-Arapaho claims to their reserve except for individual allotments, including any claims to Fort Reno – a stance with which many members of the Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribes disagree.
For several years the combined Cheyenne-Arapaho Tribes have been trying to re-acquire the lands the fort occupied. In 1996, they donated US$107,000 to the Democratic National Committee with a memo titled "Fort Reno," and at the same time asked the Clinton administration to get an opinion from the Department of the Interior on their claims. The U.S. Senate investigated them for their actions in 1997 but the tribes refused to appear. The Senate committee, chaired by Republicans, scolded the Democratic fund-raisers, the president, and Democratic operatives. In 1999 the Interior Department issued an opinion saying that the tribes did have a credible argument that they did not cede the lands that were used by the military. Several attempts have been made by Democratic politicians to aid the Cheyenne-Arapaho Tribes, most notably Eni Fa'aua'a Hunkin Faleomavaega, Jr. of American Samoa in 1997 and by Senator Daniel Inouye of Hawaii in 2000. However, opposition by the entire Oklahoma congressional delegation, state political and civic leaders, and historical preservationists has stalled all efforts. In 2005, Oklahoma Senator Jim Inhofe, co-sponsored by Senator Tom Coburn, introduced a bill to fund historical preservation of the fort using funds raised by leasing oil and gas resources under the fort. The bill received a committee hearing but no further action.
- Kappler, Indian Affairs (Fort Reno Military Reserve, p. 842): "Beginning at the northwest corner of section 28, township 13 north, range 8 west of the Indian meridian, and running thence east to North Fork of the Canadian River; thence down this stream to the range line between ranges 7 and 8 west of the Indian meridian; thence south on said range line to the southeast corner of section 36, township 13 north, range 8 west of the Indian meridian; thence east to the northeast corner of township 12 north, range 8 west of the Indian meridian; thence south to the southeast corner of section 12 of said township; thence west to the southwest corner of section 9 of said township; thence north to the northwest corner of section 4 of said township; thence west to the southwest corner of section 33, township 13 north, range 8 west of the Indian meridian; thence north to the point of beginning, containing an area of about 14 5/6 square miles, or 9,493 acres (38.42 km2)."
- Kappler, Indian Affairs (27 Stat., 1018): "Whereas, by a written agreement made on the day of October, eighteen hundred and ninety, the Cheyenne and Arapahoe tribes of Indians ceded, conveyed, transferred, relinquished and surrendered all their claim, title and interest in and to the lands described in article two of said agreement...and all other lands or tracts of country in the Indian Territory to which they have or may set up or allege any right, title, interest or claim whatsoever: Provided, That every member of said tribes shall have an allotment of one hundred and 60 acres (240,000 m2)."
- Kappler, Indian Affairs (Agreement with Cheyenne and Arapaho ratified, p. 415-419): "The following agreement entered into by the Commissioners named below on the part of the United States, and the Cheyenne and Arapahoe Tribes of Indians on the — day of October, eighteen hundred and ninety, and now on file in the Interior Department, signed by the said Commissioners on the part of the United States, and by Left Hand, his mark, and five hundred and sixty-four others, on the part of the said Indians, is hereby accepted, ratified and confirmed, ... Commencing at a point where the Washita River crosses the ninety-eighth degree of west longitude, as surveyed in the years eighteen hundred and fifty-eight and eighteen hundred and seventy-one; thence north on a line with said ninety-eighth degree to the point where it is crossed by the Red Fork of the Arkansas (sometimes called the Cimarron River); thence up said river, in the middle of the main channel thereof, to the north boundary of the country ceded to the United States by the treaty of June fourteenth, eighteen hundred and sixty six, with the Creek nation of Indians; thence west on said north boundary and the north boundary of the country ceded to the United States by the treaty of March twenty first, eighteen hundred and sixty six, with the Seminole Indians, to the one hundredth degree of west longitude; thence south on the line of said one hundredth degree to the point where it strikes the North Fork of the Red River; thence down said North Fork of the Red River to a point where it strikes the north line of the Kiowa and Comanche Reservation; thence east along said boundary to a point where it strikes the Washita River; thence down said Washita River, in the middle of the main channel thereof, to the place of beginning; and all other lands or tracts of country in the Indian Territory to which they have or may set up or allege any right, title, interest or claim whatsoever ... Out of the lands ceded, conveyed, transferred, relinquished, and surrendered by Article II hereof, and in part consideration for the cession of lands named in the preceding article, it is agreed by the United States that each member of the said Cheyenne and Arapahoe tribes of Indians over the age of eighteen years shall have the right to select for himself or herself one hundred and sixty acres of land, ... As a further and only additional consideration for the cession of territory and relinquishment of title, claim, and interest in and to lands as aforesaid the United States agrees to pay to the Cheyenne and Arapahoe tribes of Indians one million and five hundred thousand dollars ..."
- Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs. "THE CHEYENNE AND ARAPAHO TRIBES: Their Quest for the Fort Reno Lands": "First, the four most knowledgeable tribal representatives were initially cooperative with the Committee’s investigation but later asserted their Fifth Amendment privilege against self-incrimination and would not testify under oath without a grant of immunity."
- Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs. "THE CHEYENNE AND ARAPAHO TRIBES: Their Quest for the Fort Reno Lands": "Democratic fund-raisers led the tribes, who were politically naive, to believe that making a large contribution would secure them the long-sought Fort Reno lands. The tribes made contributions to the DNC, received encouragement about their land claim from many quarters, including the President himself, but ultimately received nothing. The tribes then fell into the hands of a series of Democratic operators, who attempted to pick their pockets for legal fees, land development fees, and additional contributions. The fleecing stopped only when several unflattering press accounts ran regarding the tribes’ plight."
- HR 239. To take into trust for the Cheyenne-Arapaho Tribes etc.: "To take into trust for the Cheyenne-Arapaho Tribes of Oklahoma certain land in Oklahoma that was known as the Fort Reno Military Reservation and that was formerly part of the Cheyenne-Arapaho lands, and for other purposes."
- S. 1832. Fort Reno Mineral Leasing Act: "authorize the Secretary of the Interior to lease oil and gas resources underlying Fort Reno, Oklahoma, to establish the Fort Reno Management Fund, and for other purposes."
- HR 239 (105th Congress) - To take into trust for the Cheyenne-Arapho Tribes etc. Faleomavaega, United States House of Representatives (June 25, 1997). (accessed from the Library of Congress September 12, 2006).
- Kappler, Charles (Ed.). "PART III.—EXECUTIVE ORDERS RELATING TO INDIAN RESERVES (Fort Reno Military Reserve, 842-843)". Indian Affairs: Laws and Treaties. Washington: Government Printing Office, 1904. 1:842-843 (accessed September 10, 2006).
- Kappler, Charles (Ed.). ACTS OF FIFTY-FIRST CONGRESS—SECOND SESSION, 1891 (Chapter 543, Sec 13 Agreement with Cheyenne and Arapaho ratified) Indian Affairs: Laws and Treaties. Washington: Government Printing Office, 1904. 1:415-519 (accessed September 12, 2006).
- Kappler, Charles (Ed.). "PART IV.—PROCLAMATIONS (April 12, 1892.—27 Stat., 1018)". Indian Affairs: Laws and Treaties. Washington: Government Printing Office, 1904. 1:955-958 (accessed September 10, 2006).
- S. 1832. Fort Reno Mineral Leasing Act. United States Senate (October 6, 2005). (accessed from the Library of Congress September 11, 2005).
- Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs. "THE CHEYENNE AND ARAPAHO TRIBES: Their Quest for the Fort Reno Lands". Senate Governmental Affairs Committee's Final Report on the 1997 Special Investigation in Connection with 1996 Federal Election Campaigns. (accessed from the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs on September 13, 2006).
- Wright, Murial H.; George H. Shirk; Kenny A. Franks. Mark of Heritage Oklahoma City: Oklahoma Historical Society, 1976.
- Historic Fort Reno, Inc.
- Fort Reno info, photos and video on TravelOK.com Official travel and tourism website for the State of Oklahoma
- Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History and Culture - Fort Reno
- Oklahoma Digital Maps: Digital Collections of Oklahoma and Indian Territory
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