Great Plains Studies, Center for


Date of this Version

Winter 2019

Document Type



Great Plains Quarterly 39 (Winter 2019):11–37


(c) 2019 Center for Great Plains Studies.


African Americans participated in homesteading in the Great Plains primarily by establishing “colonies” or geographically concentrated homesteading communities. We studied Nicodemus, Kansas; DeWitty, Nebraska; Dearfield, Colorado; Empire, Wyoming; Sully County, South Dakota; and Blackdom, New Mexico, which were the largest and most important Black homesteading communities in their states. Black homesteaders, like their white counterparts, were mostly very poor, struggled to grow crops in a harsh climate, and used the land they gained to build new futures. But because of their previous experiences in the South and racism in some nearby communities, Black homesteaders developed a distinct understanding of their efforts, particularly of schooling and the “success” of their communities.