"Oklahoma" translates into "red people" in the Choctaw language. But, in the late 1800's and after the turn of the century, the Indian and Oklahoma territories were home to bad people as well as red people.
This edition of the award-winning documentary series Stateline shows how the terrain of the territories was a terrific draw for the likes of the James Gang and Belle Starr and scores of the equally nefarious and notorious. Oklahoma became known for its lawlessness, shootouts and hideouts from border to border. Rugged ranchers and cowboys accustomed to living off the land had the skills to easily make the transition to bank and train robbers and cattle rustlers and horse thieves on the run.
Folks in already tamed, established and settled parts of the new nation, thought stories and lore of the so-called Wild West sounded glamorous and adventurous. Dime store novelists and Hollywood producers took advantage of those thoughts and turned bad acts into good times. Cow thieves and cash stealers turned into cash cows, and the despicable became virtually acceptable - even revered.
Marshals, bounty hunters, hanging judges and posses would eventually, literally catch up to the outlaws. But, it would be decades after the likes of Bill Doolin were brought down, before disorganized crime would be tamed by organized law enforcement.
Oklahoma Historical Society
Viewing archived files from 2014.
Original Broadcast Date: 1/29/2014
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