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不 不 不 Welcome to Unit 3, Lesson 5 of Oklahoma Passage, a telecourse on Oklahoma history.
I'm your host, Dean Lewis. Here in the Oklahoma Historical Society's State Museum of History, we can find many artifacts and documents associated with today's topic, the Great Depression. But before we depart down that path, let's once again turn to another episode of OETA's mini-series, Oklahoma Passage. Well, there's a project I've been planning, I'm thinking about flying around the world. In the previous lesson, as Wiley Polst and Hannah lost interest in barnstorm, he began dreaming about a flight around the world. Hey, you and I ought to make a flight together, Wiley, you know, some sort of grand adventure. Well Rodgers even suggested they plan a great adventure together. What kind of aircraft do you have in mind? Well, I don't really have one nailed down as yet, but I'm looking real hard at a Lockheed Vega. Oh, that's a good one. Good. George struck it rich in the Oklahoma oil fields and lived like a millionaire for a brief
time. Oh, you'll do real well there. That is until the stock market crash of 1929, it served as a symbolic beginning of the nation's most devastating economic disaster, the Great Depression. It was October 29, 1929, the day the stock market crashed that sent America into the Great Depression. What happened? George talked to me. George had lost everything in the world he'd ever worked for, so did everybody else. He went so deep into depression we thought he had never come home. Daniel's been asking for you? Well, I was wrong Elizabeth, dead wrong.
Oh, he said my whole life pursuing things I thought would make us happy. It wasn't your fault, it wasn't anything you could do. Nobody knew. That's not what I mean. Listen to me. Oil, money. Those things don't really matter. They don't last. It's home, family. Those are the only things permanent, the only things that really matter. You know, out there there's open home and it's all over the place that are starving,
because they're not going to have supper tonight, tomorrow either for that matter. Now, we got no money, but we're lucky. See, Papa Holmes, this land, we'll always have a place to stay, the roof over our heads, put out there our children, just like Danny, hungry, sleeping in boxes, old cars, we can't put it out of my mind. We've got to do something to help them Elizabeth. George began to care deeply about the poor people of open home.
People had no work and were hungry. They lived in shanty towns called Hoover Fields, a name that reflected the people's anger and disappointment at President Hoover's failure to end the depression. My brother's having a hard time, my brother's having a hard, oh, hard time, he's head up to the neck even pulling that cotton sack and my brother's having a hard, oh, hard time, hard time, my father's having a hard time, my father's having a hard, oh, hard time, my sister's having a hard time, my sister's having a hard, oh, hard time, when sister
's having a hard, oh, hard time, yeah, that's all for now folks, I got a little work I need to tend to, I'm going to have a little more later, thank you, thank you very much. Howdy, Rudy. How are you? I'm fine playing, Mr. Thank you, you folks from around here? Oh no, no, we just brought some potatoes for those who might need it, OB said you would know.
Thank you kindly, we need all the food we can get, taters too we've been eating so that gum thin you can read a magazine through it, named Guthrie, Woody Guthrie, I'm George Benton, this is my wife Elizabeth, hello, my sister Hannah, nice to meet you Woody, I'm sure everybody appreciates what you're doing, well most of these folks are new to this kind of living, I'm used to it, been on the road ever since I was 17, that must be why your songs really do sound like they're from your heart. And all you can sing about is what you've seen, see I was born over no chema, all I remember was my family sliding downhill and my father cussing the socialists. It's going to happen to all these people, some of them think it's the end of the world, with all down to ten cents a barrel, folks can't find a job, that's right, over a thousand businesses have already failed in Oklahoma, it's right not to mention all the banks, yeah it seems like every time he sneezes after on wind it, not the bank goes broke, folks got
nowhere to go, soup blinds feed some but the trouble is, lines are growing longer and soups are getting thinner, why doesn't the government help? Cooper says no, he figures man can make it on his own here in America, maybe not anymore. See I'll realize something about you good folks down here in Punnetok County. Our old friend Alfalfa Bill Murray was campaigning for governor. The hardship of a farmer without seed to plant, the starving children of the laborin man, I'll realize the thousands trampling the roads by the god eternal, as long as I have breathed to breathe, they shall be taken care of.
Alfalfa Bill was elected governor, but we didn't look like a governor. He dressed carelessly, wore old rump of clothes, the newspapers pictured him as an eccentric old man with bizarre and radical ideas. Bill, these newspaper articles are not good, I swear, you're the only politician, I know they can get everybody mad at him and still get their vote, and it says here that you're communist. He also says you're a demagogue. Everybody's got a problem, everybody's got a special interest. My special interest is representing those whose special interest is feeding their kids for one more day, or hanging on to their farm for one more season.
Folks call me a demagogue because of the word talk and the way I dress. I don't want anyone claiming me for their governor, except the people, and certainly not the privileged Sikh and Nigel Rich. Well, they don't. Well, everyone, George and I were just listening to the radio. Thank you. Well. Oh. That's a pretty interesting news. Wiley? He made it. What else did it say? Wiley made it all the way around the world, and now he wants to do it again. This time, all by himself. Fine. All the way around the world. What? That ain't natural. I knew he could do it. Here's the Wiley.
And two is three. No, I don't want to steal anything away from Wiley's moment, but I have some other news. This point, I'm not sure whether it's good news or bad news. But this country is in terrible condition. It's kind of like the weather. Everybody talks about it, but nobody ever does anything, especially that criminal crowd up in Washington. There are men and women in the very shadow of the Capitol building itself, begging for clothing and food. And the big wigs in the government with their salaries and their limousines, they can't see or understand what the Sam Hill is going on. So I've decided I'm going to go up there and clean house.
I'm going to run for President of the United States. Oh, Bill, it's wonderful. You'll be good. Good for the job. All right. All right, what is it? Is it good enough to play the G7 like that? Yeah, it's worth your time. All right, Hannah, I think we got it worked out. Good, because Bill wants you to play it for him at the convention. Convention, huh? Mm-hmm. You want to hear it? Sure. Did you keep my lyrics? Well, of course. He wrote them. Good. I had to give it a try. All right. Red, butter, bacon and beans come share out Balfa's meal. Or you can suck on the empty cup of Roosevelt's new deal. Deal, deal, deal. Al Falfa Bill had an uphill fight on his hands.
If he were to be the Democratic candidate for president, he'd have to beat Franklin Delano Roosevelt in the convention. Roosevelt was a rich man from the East. What could he know about people out here who were desperately poor? At least, that's what we figured at the time. How about that? Oh, what a fine adventure that campaign was. We took his message all over the country. George and I would fly ahead, get to the next city where the governor would speak, and make sure everybody turned out for his rallies. He attracted a lot of attention all over the country, even got his picture on the cover of Time Magazine, Champion of the Little Man. Did he win? No, I'm afraid not. The only vote that you got to didn't come from Oklahoma was from North Dakota.
You should thank your brother when you see him. That's a nice thing to say, will. Well, now the truth rarely is. But the fact is, the only vote we got outside of Oklahoma come from this man's brother. Well, that may be the case, but Roosevelt bought that election, he threw money and platitudes at the masses, and bought himself a place on the ticket. That's for sure. All of this new deal stuff. Well, I've been doing that right here in Oklahoma for a long time, and not just talk, tough, progressive legislation. Yes, sir. You know, I don't think we should have talked about this armament. It's one of those issues everybody knows is right, but they don't want to hear about it. It's almost impossible for any man to get elected that wants to turn swords into plowshairs. And another thing.
Everybody says that prosperity is just right around the corner. I think a war is near around the corner than prosperity is. Hitler's got them all stirred up over there. I just don't like what I see in that man. I thought you never met a man you didn't like, will. Never met Hitler. Or Satan, neither for that man. And I don't plan to, but I'll tell you this. We're lucky to have just a business depression in this country. Think about what the import devil's over in Europe are up against. Was Alfalfa Bill a good governor? Oh, I think so. He understood the despair of people and families being destroyed by the Depression. He cared terribly. During the Depression, there were so many jobless men wandering the streets that they were thrown in jail as vacants. Alfalfa Bill was furious. He ordered the men released and established relief centers
for migratory workers. He even gave some of his own salary to help feed the poor. The men released and established relief centers for migratory workers. The men released and established relief centers for migratory workers. The men released and established relief centers for migratory workers. The men released and established relief centers for migratory workers.
This train is bound to glory this train. This train is bound to glory this train. This train is bound to glory. Don't carry nothing but the righteous and the holy this train is bound to glory this train. Don't carry no gamblers this train. This train, don't carry no gamblers this train. This train, don't carry no gamblers liar thieves. Big shot gamblers this train. Don't carry no gamblers this train. Those must have been terrible times. Yes, but it wasn't all that. I remember some good things. I remember how the family pulled together and fought to hang on to this land. People began to pick themselves up again.
With the help of Roosevelt's new deal, the people not only endured, but they began to build for the future. Hard times were nothing new to most Oklahoma, but in the past, downturns in the economy had always been brief. Always followed by greater booms, always rekindling the flame of hope. The Great Depression was different. Starting in the 1920s and deepening in the 1930s, at light of hope dimmed, first for farmers and sharecroppers, then spread to the towns and cities as markets just dried up, production shut down. For many people, hope disappeared altogether, as forces beyond their control seemed to destroy the land of milk and honey. Historian Richard Loet outlines the underlying causes of that economic disaster. To follow the economic background of what happened in the 1930s, I think you have to keep two things in mind.
And I can start with the term overproduction and under consumption. These two terms are going to be relevant to any discussion of the depression and the economic crisis. More specifically, as to what happened in the 1930s, I think a good starting place would be the First World War. During the First World War, American farmers were told that food would win the war. They were encouraged to expand production, and they did it, taking into account lands that should have never been devoted to agriculture. There was a tremendous demand for food, not only in this country, but to feed the armies, and later at the end of the war immediately, to feed starving people throughout Europe. At the end of the war, by the 1920s, the overseas market disappeared, the army was disbanded, and American farmers were still producing. The result being a tremendous surplus in all commodities, wheat caught in particularly in this area.
Meanwhile, in the 1920s, while farmers were producing other things were happening. Advanced technology, namely tractors and mechanization, meant that farmers by purchasing machinery no longer had need for horses, no longer had need for hired help. The result being that more land was put into production, to produce, the demand was not there. Another factor, American dietary habits changed in the 1920s, with women going on a diet, with the flapper becoming the epitome of feminine beauty, meant that people were consuming less, given the growth of cities and urbanization as a dominant theme, more people had sedentary jobs consuming less. In addition, the fixed costs of the farmer remained the same, his income was being depleted.
So throughout the 1920s, farmers in this part of the country were already experiencing depression. That meant that banks were in trouble, that meant that services providing farmers with services were in trouble. That meant also that increasing numbers of farmers, if they were not dispossessed, became tenants. This is an endemic theme throughout the 1920s. Then in the 1930s, you run into a series of years of extreme drought. Extreme drought, you would go for days on end, sometimes months, in the summer with over 100 degrees heat, continually no air conditioning. Crops shriveled in the fields, animals, many of them actually dropped dead. You add to that, in the 30s, the dust bowl, and the dust bowl develops in good pot because farmers bringing into production lands that should never have been utilized,
expanding cattle grazing on land, nibbling on the soil, meant that erosion would begin to fester and develop and become noticeable. So in the 30s, to combine with depression and drought, you get intense dust storms. The result being that agricultural society literally fell apart totally. Main streets and communities would deserted people, tenant farmers, and over 60% of farmers in Oklahoma by the 1930s with tenant farmers, they were uprooted. In addition to that, or a second factor that comes to a head here, in terms of overproduction is in the oil industry. In 1928, the Oklahoma City oil field comes in, is brought in, and the state is a wash in oil.
Two years later, in East Texas, you bring in the East Texas oil field, and oil field, the size of Manhattan Island. The result being that prices for petroleum or oil went down in some instances to tensence of barrel. People in the oil industry now were uprooted as well. So you get then, in the 30s in Oklahoma, a tremendous migration, internal and external. People moving into the cities, people seeking jobs and jobs are limited, almost non-existent, seeking new opportunities. At the same time, you get people leaving the state. Overproduction under consumption. These are not the popular images of the Great Depression. Now, to the majority of Americans, the Great Depression is synonymous with the dust bowl, great black clouds of swirling dust, ripping topsoil from the land, driving already hard-pressed farmers from away of life. That dramatic image, although only a minor aspect of the Depression in Oklahoma, is well-remembered by historian and reporter, Urban Hurst.
The Great Depression descended on us in the early 30s, when Alpha Bell Murray was governor. Now Murray had run for president in 1932 when Franklin Delano Roosevelt was also candidate, and of course, has all the world most. Roosevelt was elected. There wasn't any particular friendship, and as a depression deepened, the legislature voted relief funds for which were matched by the federal government. And this boom room was used as an office for governor William H. Murray's relief fund. Now, the authorities were mortgying an objective in using the relief fund. He was succeeded by E.W. Moron, the former Poncker City wealthy oil man, and it was, well, Moron was governor, so when the dust storms were worse. I had an assignment in April 1935 to go to the panel and do a series on the dust storms.
And for the first and only times in my years with the E.K. Gaylord, I had instructions to find a way of hope. So I left Oklahoma City on Sunday afternoon, April 14th, a nice, bright, sun-shiny day. Drove to Clinton, dropped down to Hobart to pick up some pictures of a Shelter Bell project. Shelter Bells were new at that time, and they were planted to break the heat. And then, on E.On West, headed for Amarillo. I stopped at Shamrock. Highways on the left, the north edge of Shamrock, Texas. For gasoline, about six o'clock. And I looked in the north, and there was a big, black cloud. I thought, oh, we're going to get a gully washer, and that'll end the dust storms. I had a camera in the car, but the first thing I knew, scraps of paper and tin cans came blowing by, and before I could get the camera out, the Black Duster of April 14th, 1935, descended on me. It was like being caught in a coal mine at midnight when the lights go out. It was almost complete darkness.
I thought I would spend the night there, but I couldn't find the curves that drive downtown. So I said, nobody else would be stupid enough to do it. So I'll drive on into Amarillo, and it took me five hours to creep into Amarillo, 94 miles away. I spent the next day I went up to Clayton, New Mexico, and came in the panel from the far tip of it, spent the night at Boyn City and worked my way east with the dust blowing. That dust played tricks. It's like taking a cat into a dark room and rubbing a cat in static electricity sparks. The dust blowing across the barbed wire would leave sparks, and it would drown out all cars. Between Boyn City and Guyman and I encountered a family that bring their 12-year-old son down from hospital in Kansas, and their car had stalled. I offered them to shove them to get them started, and they invited me to their home, and I walked with an opportunity to see how people were living in those dust conditions.
They had taken masking tape and taped the windows in the doors, and they were really, really sealed in. The dust storms continued for a period of time, but I was back in the panel in 1938, and after a shower, it was blooming like a paradise. The Dust Bowl, centered in southwestern Kansas and southeastern Colorado, actually affected only the westernmost counties of the Oklahoma Panhandle. But to generations of Americans, educated through movies such as John Ford's Grapes of Wrath, the Dust Bowl, and the tractor, uprooted an entire generation of sawdbusters, and blew them west to the migrant camps of California. Historian Marsha Weissiger corrects that popular misconception. This is a landmark that was familiar to many Oklahoma's during the 1930s, who traveled along this road, Old Highway 66. It was the migrant road, the mother road, for the many migrants who traveled from Oklahoma to California, Arizona, and other points westward during the Great Depression.
One of the great myths about the Depression era is that this migration, 309,000 Oklahoma's who left the state, was a migration out of the Dust Bowl of Oklahoma. In fact, relatively few people migrated out of the Dust Bowl during the Great Depression. The major migration of rural peoples from Oklahoma came out of the south and eastern parts of Oklahoma, the cotton belt. These were people who had been tenant farmers or sharecroppers, who, due to a variety of factors, including drought, there was reduced cotton crop, mechanization in some areas. But for the most part, the principal reason that people left Oklahoma was a federal program, known as the Agricultural Adjustment Act, which reduced cotton acreage and mandated a reduction in cotton acreage throughout the nation.
As a result of that, some 30% of the cotton lands in Oklahoma were taken out of production, and the tenant farmers who lived on that land and farmed the cotton for their landlords were evicted from the land. Some 35% of tenant farms in Oklahoma were eliminated between 1930 and 1935. What that did for people was more than they lost their job and they needed to look elsewhere, they also lost their homes. And as they searched for a new farm to live and to work, they found that other people, everybody in their area was in the same predicament. They would look around and try to find work perhaps in the nearest town.
And found that people from the big cities who were also out of work as a result of the depression were looking for work. People were also moving from the cities in what was known as a back to the land movement to find their own farm. Perhaps they had been lost their job in the city and they thought that if they could produce their own food, at least they could make it through those hard times. So these tenant farmers and sharecroppers were competing with a lot of different people for decreasing amounts of land. Some of them stuck it out. Some of them moved to the nearest town or they moved to a bigger town, perhaps in the Skoggi, Tulsa, Oklahoma City. But there was no work to be had there either. One of the great myths about the Great Depression and the migration of Oklahoma to California and Arizona and points westward is that they were leaving the Dust Bowl area. The origin of that myth starts in 1935.
When a man named Paul Taylor wrote in a magazine called Survey Graphic that there was a massive migration coming out of the Heartland of America to California. He linked in that article the Dust Bowl with a migration saying that as the clouds of dust roll across the prairies so too come all of these migrants. He later learned that the Dust Bowl had very little or almost nothing to do with that migration, but that image stuck in the American imagination. The coincidence of the black blizzards that rolled across the Panhandle of Oklahoma and that massive migration between 1935 and 1940 to California seemed to link the two as cause and effect, but they were really unrelated for the most part. Most of the migrants came from an area of Oklahoma in the south and eastern part of the state.
If you do a line along the old Route 66 that we're standing on and from the area of Tulsa area down to the western border of the state. And then took the part of the state that falls south of that border and the counties just along the north edge of Route 66. You'd have the area where people migrated out of. It was the cotton belt of Oklahoma. Sharecroppers displaced by modern tractors, production cutbacks, and drought were only the first to suffer the impact of the spreading crisis. In small towns, merchants, and professionals, dependent on farming families for their business, struggled to remain open. In Oklahoma City in Tulsa, middle-class wage earners had their hours cut back. Bankers saw their reserves disappear and construction workers were idled. By 1933, almost a third of all Americans were unemployed and banks were failing every day.
In many ways, the depression was transcending the pocketbook to eat away at the foundations of society. Dr. Loa turns to that crisis of despair. Now, Steinbach is something of a dirty word here in Oklahoma and perhaps you can understand why. But on the other hand, if you go and look at or read the book, the Joed family isn't really a remarkable family. A family that sticks together in terms of desperate crisis, that holds to their values, that seeks new opportunities on the whole. It is an admirable group that Steinbach portrays. Suppose what is involved here is the symbol of defeat. But all of America was defeated because the 1930s or the Great Depression represents a national failure. It's the second great national failure in our history.
The first being the Civil War, where our vaunted political system collapsed and couldn't meet a crisis. The second being the Great Depression, where our vaunted economic system collapsed and was unable to meet a crisis. So it was a national phenomenon. Migration to California was only one theme. There was an equally intense migration across the northern plains into the Pacific Northwest as well. The New Deal and its various manifestations sought to cope with this crisis. Problem-wise, in Oklahoma, in particular, the politicians in the state were anti-New Deal for various reasons, but were not sympathetic to the New Deal except for Governor Marland, and he did not meet success in coping with the legislature. As one of the signs here indicates the New Deal in Oklahoma, Governor Murray was not that enthusiastic about getting state funds,
and as the sign says, his administration's corruptness caused federal officials to cut off relief. So Oklahoma never got the full benefit of federal funding, but here, too, you have a panel that indicates the various agencies, most of which had some programs operating here in Oklahoma, never to the full extent that they were functioning in other states. In part, because of the nature of the political system, as it was unfolding in Oklahoma, where politics revolve more around personalities than in terms of disciplined party structure. By revolving around personalities, the prongness or the tendency to reward your friends, leading to corruption, misuse of funding, was accelerated in the state. In fact, at one time, the Harry Hopkins and the Federal Emergency Relief Administration and later the WPA, they had to take it away from state administrators and run the program nationally without a state set of officers directing the program here in Oklahoma.
The New Deal started, well, the best you can say, is that it kept hope alive. People's hope was destroyed when you saw your crops shrivel in the fields, when you saw animals dropping dead or the government purchasing them to get them out of the area. When you found yourself uprooted, the loss of hope was the most dramatic impact, and it was the New Deal, which had many contradictory agencies, which in one way or the other tried to restore hope and some dignity to people by offering them jobs, by offering them opportunities to cope with crisis. By the late 1930s, fortunately, the weather started to improve, because at the nexus, at the core of the problem in the 30s, was lack of rain.
Once you began to get more adequate rainfall at the end of the 30s, conditions began to improve, farmers could again begin to produce, and then as the nation drifts into the Second World War, again, food will win the war, production increases, jobs become available, and the depression becomes a memory, but the memory lingers on. The memory does survive, not only in the minds of our people, but in the world around us. One aspect of the great depression that is only now receiving much attention is the legacy of the depression in the arts and architecture. The foundation for that legacy was the New Deal, actually a series of programs that attempted to jumpstart the economy through jobs and reinvestment. The Public Works Administration and the Works Progress Administration were responsible for 11 county courthouses, hundreds of schools and armories, thousands of bridges, sidewalks, and outhouses.
The Civilian Conservation Corps, employing teenage boys, built parks, planted wind breaks, and fought the effects of erosion. The literary, arts, and music projects employed thousands of artists who painted public murals, interviewed pioneers, wrote community histories, and played in community orchestras. It was a period of cultural expression never before experienced in the state or nation. The fruits of that creative outburst still grace the state today. The government assistance could take the edge off the suffering, but it could not solve the economic collapse. The recovery came only with increased production and consumption as the clouds of war swept over Europe and Asia. Fortunately for Oklahoma, the rains also returned and farmers began making up lost ground. By 1941, at America's entrance into the war, the economy was firing on all cylinders once again.
The memory of the Great Depression has been kept alive and the stories passed from one generation to the next, visible in the public policies that have shaped the economy since World War II. Could such devastation come again? Perhaps. But by studying the causes of the Depression, by understanding the social and environmental consequences of economic failure, we can better prepare for the future. Until next time, I'm your host Dean Lewis with Oklahoma Passage. I'm your host Dean Lewis with Oklahoma Passage.
I'm your host Dean Lewis with Oklahoma Passage. I'm your host Dean Lewis with Oklahoma Passage. I'm your host Dean Lewis with Oklahoma Passage. Major funding of Oklahoma Passage was made possible by the Samuel Robert Noble Foundation. Phillips Petroleum Foundation, Grace B. Kerr Fund, the McCaslin Foundation, and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.
Additional funding provided by the McMayan Foundation and the OETA Foundation. These organizations invite you to join them in celebrating Oklahoma's past and future. .
Oklahoma Passage Telecourse #115 Great Depression - Unit 3, Lesson 5
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Episode Description
This episode of the Oklahoma Passage Telecourse #115 is hosted by Dean Lewis, Dr. Richard Lowitt, Irvin Hurst, and Marsha Weisiger. This lesson begins with Wiley Post and Will Rogers planning an adventure. This covers the Stock Market Crash of 1929 that led to the Great Depression It begins with a scene from the Oklahoma Docudrama Oklahoma Passage. Within this docudrama, which dramatizes 150 years of Oklahoma history, we see the Oklahoma passage of the Benton family which focuses on six generations beginning with Abraham Benton, a mixed-blood Cherokee printer who immigrates to Indian Territory in the mid-1830s. It is a look into the heart of Oklahomans who had to deal with the loss of everything during this critical time in American history which began in 1929 and lasted approximately a decade. This briefly talks about the shanty towns built by the homeless in the United States called "Hooverville." A Hooverville was named for the disappointment in President Herbert Hoover's ability to end the depression. Woody Guthrie is depicted as helping to bring music and help to people in these shanty towns. Concerns about Communism is addressed after the economic crisis. The Communist Party had been small and isolated prior to the Great Depression. The news of Wiley Post flying around the world is commemorated. Marland. William, otherwise known as "Alfalfa Bill" Murray was the governor of Oklahoma when the Depression began. He wanted to help the people of Oklahoma and the United States out of the Depression, so he ran for the Democratic nomination against Franklin Delano Roosevelt. This episode also mentioned Hitler and the in Europe during this time. This program looks into the homeless population due to the Great Depression. Starting in the 1920's and deepening in the 1930's hope seemed to disappear in what Oklahomans considered the land of milk and honey. Economic issues are examined that brought about the Great Depression. The New Deal is examined and the effect it had on Oklahomans. Although the New Deal failed to provide adequately or to bring the state out of the depression, federal programs had a significant impact on Oklahoma. The FERA dispensed extensive direct relief and initiated programs as diverse as tuberculosis eradication, cattle processing, and emergency nurseries, but the agency's activities absorbed only a portion of the unemployed. With the 1936 Oklahoma Indian Welfare Act the federal government tailored the 1934 Indian Reorganization Act to the needs of Oklahoma's Indians, providing health and educational opportunities and authorizing bands or tribes (except the Osage) to incorporate to borrow federal funds. Dust storms were the result of drought and land that had been overused. Drought first hit the country in 1930. By 1934, it had turned the Great Plains into a desert that came to be known as the Dust Bowl. In Oklahoma, the Panhandle area was hit hardest by the drought. This program examines the resiliency of Oklahomans to get through such a devastating time in our state's history.
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