Railroads opened the nation to expanded trade. The Chickasaw had grown cotton since the early 1800s. Cotton processing once again became a major industry. By the 1890s, around 60,000 bales of cotton with a value of one million dollars were being sold in Ardmore each year.
However, while good for trade, the railroads had a largely negative effect on the Chickasaw Nation. Although the railroads opened trade of raw materials and finished products, they also brought in so many non-Indians that the Chickasaw population was quickly overwhelmed. By the 1890s, there were 150,000 whites and only about 5,000 Chickasaws living on the tribe’s lands.
The Chickasaws raised the fees of work permits to discourage additional settlers from coming to the tribe’s lands. In addition, the cost of a marriage license escalated from $5 to $1,000 to prevent white men from marrying Chickasaw women for their land.
Photo credit: Nebraska State Historical Society [nbhips 12651]