Friday, August 14 7:30 (Filmmaker intro & Q&A) & Saturday, August 15 1:00
Lone Man’s Land is a documentary about cowboys in the Oklahoma Panhandle fighting to keep their land and way of life.
One Oklahoma Panhandle family risks losing a legacy and culture generations of ancestors fought to preserve. Lone Man’s Land follows the Apple family through 2014 and shows the cowboy life under attack. The story takes place in Kenton, Oklahoma, the westernmost town in Oklahoma with a population of twenty. Six miles from Colorado and three miles from New Mexico, Kenton is a quiet retirement community that’s proved a perfect home to cattle ranchers for five generations. Until now.
At statehood, the U.S. Federal Government gave Oklahoma portions of land that were to be sold or leased to generate revenue for public education and buildings. Between 1907 and 1930, nearly all Oklahoma State School Lease Land was relocated to No Man’s Land. The majority was stuck in the most northwest corner of the state surrounding Kenton. At the time, the region was so sparsely populated that swapping deeded land in Cimarron County for Lease Land had no affect. As ranching operations grew, the land was eventually leased for considerably low rates.
In 1982 Oklahoma Education Association filed a lawsuit against those in control of the State School Lease Land: Commissioners of the Land Office. CLO is comprised of five elected officials, the head commissioner being then Sate Governor George Nigh. OEA claimed CLO wasn’t seeking maximum return on public lands as mandated by the Federal Government in Article 11 of the Oklahoma Constitution. The Supreme Court ruled in favor of OEA and required CLO enact an open bidding system to generate the largest possible return. Because the cowboy culture is permeated by manners and untouched by moral erosion, ranchers didn’t bid against each other at these auctions. In fact, because of the small communities and neighborly mentalities, ranching continued in Kenton as it always had.
In 2005 everything changed. A man came to town, liked what he saw, went to the auction, and took a number of rancher’s land. He got into bidding wars with others and drove the price of their lease to three times what they’d been paying. Those that lost their land moved away. They left the home where their family had lived for over one hundred years. Those whose leases skyrocketed took out second or third mortgages on their homes and ranches. Some sold out; some survived.
Since 2005, a cattle corporation has moved in and obtained multiple leases and thousands of acres through open bidding. Now, Kenton maintains a modest ranching community that lives in fear of the auction. As stewards of the earth, many ranchers fear corporations will abuse the land and create another Dust Bowl. America is a country of cowboys that went West chasing dreams. But now we’re a nation facing the extinction of ranchers and the death of our history. Lone Man’s Land hopes to inspire us to question the implications of our actions and gain a greater sense of empathy.