The Color of the Land

Race, Nation, and the Politics of Landownership in Oklahoma, 1832-1929

By David A. Chang

308 pp., 6.125 x 9.25, 7 illus., 8 maps, 2 tables, notes, bibl., index

  • Paperback ISBN: 978-0-8078-7106-5
    Published: February 2010
  • E-book EPUB ISBN: 978-0-8078-9576-4
    Published: February 2010
  • E-book PDF ISBN: 979-8-8908-8394-0
    Published: February 2010

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Awards & distinctions

2010 Theodore Saloutos Memorial Book Award, Agricultural History Society

A 2010 Choice Outstanding Academic Title

Honorable Mention, 2011 Erminie Wheeler-Voegelin Prize, American Society for Ethnohistory

Honorable Mention, 2011 Lora Romero First Book Publication Prize, American Studies Association

The Color of the Land brings the histories of Creek Indians, African Americans, and whites in Oklahoma together into one story that explores the way races and nations were made and remade in conflicts over who would own land, who would farm it, and who would rule it. This story disrupts expected narratives of the American past, revealing how identities--race, nation, and class--took new forms in struggles over the creation of different systems of property.

Conflicts were unleashed by a series of sweeping changes: the forced "removal" of the Creeks from their homeland to Oklahoma in the 1830s, the transformation of the Creeks' enslaved black population into landed black Creek citizens after the Civil War, the imposition of statehood and private landownership at the turn of the twentieth century, and the entrenchment of a sharecropping economy and white supremacy in the following decades. In struggles over land, wealth, and power, Oklahomans actively defined and redefined what it meant to be Native American, African American, or white. By telling this story, David Chang contributes to the history of racial construction and nationalism as well as to southern, western, and Native American history.

About the Author

David A. Chang is assistant professor of history at the University of Minnesota.
For more information about David A. Chang, visit the Author Page.


"Valuable to many, including those who study race, the South, slavery, migration, American Indians, [and] the development of the nation. . . . An outstanding book and a model for future studies. . . . Essential."--Choice

"Chang speaks to current debates on the formation of national identity and racial construction, including that on black Indians. . . . Contributes to the understanding of the interplay among class, whiteness, and masculinity. . . . Provides a useful way of explaining the transition from Indian Territory to Oklahoma that would enliven both a survey lecture and a graduate seminar."--Journal of American History

"The Color of the Land ties together the politics, culture, and geography of Oklahoma into a well-written, easily accessible narrative. Such work reminds historians that our primary task is to tell stories…without sacrificing deep intellectual questions or thorough research"--Southern Historian

“Chang expertly demonstrates his ability to wed issues of race, class, land, and nationhood into one concise and coherent monograph….An outstanding study….It will undoubtedly become standard reading for anyone trying to better understand the dynamic, racialized landscape of Oklahoma.”--The Chronicles of Oklahoma

“David. A. Chang has written one of the best books of U.S. history to appear in the last year. Highly analytical and deeply researched, it is also eminently readable and perfectly pitched to classroom use….Full of ideas and humanity, The Color of the Land consistently provokes and edifies.”--Western Historical Quarterly

“Exhaustively researched, carefully organized, and effectively argued. . . .Chang has made an important contribution. . . .It will certainly challenge scholars to rethink the history of allotment in Oklahoma and beyond for years to come.” --The Journal of Southern History