In Tulsa, Oklahoma, a race riot broke out over the alleged attack against a white female elevator operator. Armed white mobs gathered in the city’s African American neighborhood of Greenwood and burned down homes and businesses and indiscriminately murdered black residents. More than 300 people were killed and 1,200 homes destroyed, leaving many surviving black families homeless.
Hostilities between settlers and the Nez Perce Indians became violent in June 1877. For the next four months, the Nez Perce were pursued by the US Army, and the two sides clashed across Montana and Idaho. In October, led by Chief Joseph, the Indians surrendered. Though promised a safe return to their Oregon homeland, the Nez Perce were relocated to Kansas and Oklahoma.
John Steinbeck’s novel The Grapes of Wrath was published. The book told the story of an Oklahoma sharecropper family forced to migrate to California in search of work. The book instantly became a literary emblem of the Great Depression and soon earned the Pulitzer Prize and was instrumental in his selection for the Nobel Prize in Literature.
Chief Joseph (ca. 1840–1904) was the Nez Perce leader who in 1877 attempted to lead his people on a three-month march from their homes in the Wallowa Valley in Oregon to Canada pursued by the US Army. He eventually surrendered upon being promised that the Nez Perce could return to Idaho. The federal government broke its promise, however, and the Nez Perce were removed to Indian Territory in Kansas and Oklahoma.