Disclaimer: We are sharing a wide range of perspectives and opinions on the history, legacy and lessons of the Green Corn Rebellion, hence, it is important to note that views expressed in content published/linked on this website do not necessarily represent the views of the editors or supporters of this website.
Also we have barely scratched the surface on the wealth of writings on the GCR, so please check back soon for more updates.
- “Green Corn Rebellion” by I. Marc Carlson from the website Tulsa Race Riots of 1921 (May 28, 2014)
Excerpt: While the Green Corn rebels were suppressed through accusations of disloyalty and syndicalism, so was the rebellion. That is, few Oklahomans know of it because official narratives of state history do not account for it. It’s hard not to wonder how Oklahoma might be different if this story were publicly acknowledged, or perhaps even heralded, as a collective expression of conscientious objection to unbridled greed and war.XL-Pipeline-PathThe Keystone XL Pipeline construction path, crossing OK Highway 270, outside of Holdenville, OK.
What might a roadside historical marker say about these rebels, impoverished workers in the Oklahoma countryside, who emboldened each other to take a stand?On the way back to Tenkiller, we took a slightly different route, and came across – quite by accident – the path being cut across Oklahoma for the Keystone XL Pipeline. Certainly the Green Corn Rebels should inspire us all to put a stop to that mess.
- “The Green Corn Rebellion” from Voices from the Arroyo, Issue 10, June 2014
Excerpt: When most texts note the Green Corn Rebellion in passing, if indeed they mention it at all, they characterize it in a few sentences. Typical words used to describe the rebels are “confused,” “lived in ignorance,” “naive,” “fools,” “nitwits,” “pathetic” as well as “backward and retiring.” As one writer noted: “The confused Indian and black and white tenant farmers of eastern Oklahoma who took up arms…followed only the dimmest road map of political reality.” Is that true? Among words to describe why, “instigated” is prominent; the specter of the “outside agitator” from other places, such as Kansas, hovers over the explanations. But do men really put themselves in harm’s way solely, or even partially, because of the urging and encouragement of outside agitators?There is another reason why we might remember. The tenant farmers were businessmen (mocked as “Little Capitalists”) who voted for the Socialist party, which received almost twenty percent of the vote statewide in Oklahoma in 1912. Indeed, there were no purer operators in the capitalist system than tenant farmers. They borrowed money, grew and sold a crop on the open market (banks required it be cotton), “settled up” with the banks (also the landlord), then, maybe with what was left, they could buy their own farm. Maybe.8 And of “political reality”? Clearly they had no understanding of the logistics or geography necessary for an armed march on Washington DC. Nonetheless, these tenant farmers were certainly under no illusions that their economic interests were the same as large landowners or of the other corporate interests that controlled the political economy. And that is another reason why we should remember. Why would small businessmen ever believe that their interests are the same as the listings on the Fortune 500. And, why do some wage workers?