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The Rufus Buck Gang: The Most Notorious Black and Indian Outlaws of the Old West

The Rufus Buck Gang—four black and Indian teens tried to singlehandedly and violently stop the expansion of the United States into Indian Territory. They stand among the most notorious and politically significant outlaws of the Old West.
The famous "Hanging Judge" Isaac Parker oversaw the Buck Gang's capture and condemned them to death. They were associated with the infamous half-black, half-Cherokee outlaw Cherokee Bill. Their crimes were motivated by the U.S. annexation of "Indian Territory" (today's Oklahoma). The socio-politics surrounding the Buck Gang rampage clearly heralded the emergence of the 20th century United States.

The Rufus Buck Gang weren't gunslingers like Billy the Kid, or thieves like the James-Younger gang. They wanted justice, and they sought it with the same violence that had marked their histories as blacks and Indians in America.

The Indian Territory of the late 20th century was a racial melting pot. It contained more whites than Indians as well as a significant population of black Freemen. Judge Parker's principal deputy was a black man named Bass Reeves. Whites had come to usurp the promised Indian lands, bit by bit. But in Washington, laws were being passed to allow the wholesale submersion of Indian Territories into the United States. Native people would lose their last chance at a homeland. This enraged Buck.

The Rufus Buck Gang, who embarked on a 13-day rampage in the vain hope of inciting the Territory's blacks and Indians to violently rebel against the United States. The attempt resulted in the gang being captured and hung on July 1, 1898.

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