Great Plains Studies, Center for


Date of this Version



Great Plains Research Vol. 20 No. 2, 2010


Copyright © 2010 by the Center for Great Plains Studies. University of Nebraska-Lincoln


Ranchers in Cimarron County, Oklahoma, have turned to leasing school trust land to sustain and sometimes expand their operations. Changes in the land tenure process have undergone profound transformations in the last 20 years, greatly impacting land use in the region. Coupled with an almost decade-long drought, land managers pursuing seemingly “traditional” agricultural practices call upon increasingly complicated, mixed private and public tenure options in order to make ends meet. Using a political ecology framework, we examine conflicting relationships between school land, the state, and local land managers as well as the sustainability of cattle ranching on school trust land in Cimarron County, Oklahoma. We conclude that school trust land needs to be re-envisioned in order to ensure the greatest good for the greatest number of people as well as to uphold traditional rights and livelihoods of those in Cimarron County.