[Maps and photos documenting an oil pipeline built through Otoe and Ponca Reservation land.]. Empire Oil Co., Otoe Agency.
[Maps and photos documenting an oil pipeline built through Otoe and Ponca Reservation land.]
[Maps and photos documenting an oil pipeline built through Otoe and Ponca Reservation land.]
[Maps and photos documenting an oil pipeline built through Otoe and Ponca Reservation land.]
[Maps and photos documenting an oil pipeline built through Otoe and Ponca Reservation land.]
[Maps and photos documenting an oil pipeline built through Otoe and Ponca Reservation land.]
[Maps and photos documenting an oil pipeline built through Otoe and Ponca Reservation land.]
[Maps and photos documenting an oil pipeline built through Otoe and Ponca Reservation land.]
[Maps and photos documenting an oil pipeline built through Otoe and Ponca Reservation land.]
[Maps and photos documenting an oil pipeline built through Otoe and Ponca Reservation land.]
[Maps and photos documenting an oil pipeline built through Otoe and Ponca Reservation land.]
[Maps and photos documenting an oil pipeline built through Otoe and Ponca Reservation land.]
[Maps and photos documenting an oil pipeline built through Otoe and Ponca Reservation land.]
[Maps and photos documenting an oil pipeline built through Otoe and Ponca Reservation land.]
[Maps and photos documenting an oil pipeline built through Otoe and Ponca Reservation land.]
[Maps and photos documenting an oil pipeline built through Otoe and Ponca Reservation land.]
[Maps and photos documenting an oil pipeline built through Otoe and Ponca Reservation land.]
[Maps and photos documenting an oil pipeline built through Otoe and Ponca Reservation land.]
[Maps and photos documenting an oil pipeline built through Otoe and Ponca Reservation land.]
[Maps and photos documenting an oil pipeline built through Otoe and Ponca Reservation land.]
[Maps and photos documenting an oil pipeline built through Otoe and Ponca Reservation land.]
[Maps and photos documenting an oil pipeline built through Otoe and Ponca Reservation land.]
[Maps and photos documenting an oil pipeline built through Otoe and Ponca Reservation land.]
[Maps and photos documenting an oil pipeline built through Otoe and Ponca Reservation land.]
[Maps and photos documenting an oil pipeline built through Otoe and Ponca Reservation land.]
[Maps and photos documenting an oil pipeline built through Otoe and Ponca Reservation land.]
[Maps and photos documenting an oil pipeline built through Otoe and Ponca Reservation land.]

[Maps and photos documenting an oil pipeline built through Otoe and Ponca Reservation land.]

[Kansas, Oklahoma: Empire Oil Co., 1917–1919.].

An archive documenting the construction of an oil pipeline partly through Indian Reservation land in Oklahoma, including plat maps showing the incursion as well as twenty-one evocative snapshots depicting pipeline work. These materials provide stark evidence of the perennial vulnerability of native American lands to the will of the powers that be.

The charts, maps, and photos included here show the construction, direction, and progress of an 8” discharge oil pipeline, built by the Empire Oil Company, and that it extended from at least as far north as Garden City, Kansas and to as far south as Oklahoma City, Oklahoma (some 300 miles). This archive spans two years (1917–19, per dates on maps) of the pipeline’s construction. Two maps here—both entitled Empire Pipeline Co. Route of Proposed 8” Through Ponca Reservation—show the pipeline running through land belonging to such native people as Martie Rough Face, Vashti Four Eyes, William Iron Thunder, A. Hairy Bear, He Cries for Rib, Gertrude Thick Nail, J. No Ear, et al. These two maps were apparently produced by the Otoe and Ponca Indian Agencies (both established in the 1850s), which were responsible for each of these tribes and managed the territory the pipeline was constructed through, and were evidently provided to the Empire Oil Co. to aid them in their pipeline project.

Maps and charts

1) [Chart of the] Progress of Construction—Ponca City 8” Discharge Line. The Office of Engineer, Augusta, Kansas, 1917. Folded manuscript chart in black and blue ink on linen, 8” x 39.5”, plus margins. The name, A. S. Kettering, is inscribed on the verso. Kettering was head of the Empire's work-order department. This chart records sections of “Pipe Laid,” “Pipe Strung,” “Pipe Ditched,” “Line Completed,” “Pipe Shipped,” and “Pipe Received” from Garden, KS to Ponca City, OK. CONDITION: Toning and a few small stains along old folds.

2) [Pipeline Path from Ponca City to Oklahoma City.] Folded blueprint plat map on linen, 8” x 49”, plus margins. Several manuscript annotations. Red line in manuscript denoting the pipeline. CONDITION: Small loss to one corner, old folds and a few small stains.

3) C. P. M., del. Empire Pipeline Co. Route of Proposed 8” Oil Line Through Otoe Reservation. Otoe Agency, Oklahoma, 26 Mar. 1917. Folded blueprint plat map on linen, 7.75” x 32.25”, plus margins. Manuscript annotations. Red line in manuscript denoting the pipeline. Labeled on the map is an “Indian Meridian.” CONDITION: A few areas toned, a few small stains.

4) C. P. M., del. Empire Pipeline Co. Route of Proposed 8” Through Ponca Reservation. Ponca Agency, White Eagle, Oklahoma, 20 Mar. 1917. Folded blueprint plat map on linen, 7.75” x 32.25”, plus margins. Red line in manuscript denoting the pipeline. CONDITION: Folds, a few small stains.

5) E. P. [Plat map of Range 9E and Range 10E of Township 21 So. and 22 So., with Lines Indicating Distances to Teetter Well & Ople.] 12 Sept. 1919. Folded blueprint plat map on paper, 9.8” x 13.75”, plus margins. Manuscript markings. CONDITION: A few small holes along old folds, but no losses to the map.

[with]

Photos

21 silver prints, 2.25” x 3.25”, plus margins. Some photos numbered on the verso.

Snapshots of the pipeline construction showing laborers excavating and installing the pipeline; two images depict wooden derricks, and one shot shows a cameraman standing in knee-high water and filming the operation.

Background on the Otoe and Poca People

The Otoe tribe, belonging to the Otoe-Missouria Tribe, occupied lands desirable to white settlers and farmers during the 19th century. As more and more settlers moved onto Otoe-Missouria land, tribal people fought to protect it, and in turn the federal government took action to protect the settlers. In 1855 the Otoe-Missouria people were confined by the U.S. government to the Big Blue River reservation in southeast Nebraska, and then in 1881 were moved to Red Rock, OK where the tribe is currently located. Otoe-Missouria land was again taken from the tribe in 1887 when the U.S. government passed the Dawes Act. The Empire Co. pipeline was such project to effect the Otoe. In 1983, the U.S. Supreme Court refused the Otoe’s challenge to a water pipeline built by the city of Stillwater. Passing through Indian trust land where 110 Indians lived, the 44-mile and 50-ft. wide underground pipeline, which brings drinking water to Stillwater from the Kaw Reservoir in Osage County, was completed in 1981. The city of Stillwater made available $45,845 to the Indians for damages to their land. Today most of the nearly 3,300 tribal members still live in Oklahoma.

The Ponca tribe were forced from Nebraska to present-day Oklahoma in 1877. While they have a reservation, the tribe has never won back their Nebraska land, and so remain largely landless, spread across Nebraska. Recently the Ponca people were active in the resistance to the Keystone XL pipeline project, this action coming on the heels of a months-long standoff over the Dakota Access pipeline near the Standing Rock Sioux reservation in North Dakota. The fight over the Keystone pipeline proved personal for the once-exiled tribe of Nebraska. The Ponca people have also argued that the Dakota Access path under the Missouri River could threaten its drinking water supply. (At protests, water protectors chanted "Mni Wiconi," a Lakota translation of "water is life.") The confluence of the Missouri and the Niobrara Rivers was called home by the Ponca people for many generations. Without a base, the Ponca language, culture and spirituality have declined. The tribe currently holds some 600 acres in northeast Nebraska. Like all native peoples, the most sacred thing to them is the land where their ancestors are buried.

REFERENCES: Gamino, Denise. Supreme Court Refuses Otoe Indian Challenge (17 May 1983) at oklahoman.com; Hardy, Kevin, “Removed from the land before, Ponca nation vows to protect the Earth from Keystone XL,” The Des Moines Register (24 May 2017); Otoe & Missouria: Five Hundred Years of History at omtribe.org

Item #7024

Sold

See all items by ,