August 16, 2012

Oklahoma – “The Sooner State”


Oklahoma map

Just the Facts…


bird – Scissor-tailed Flycatcher
flower – Mistletoe
tree – Redbud
capital – Oklahoma City
union – 46th state on November 16, 1907
population – about 3 1/2 million




The Basics 

Its name comes from a Native American phrase that means “red people.” It lies in between Texas and Kansas, just west of Arkansas. It was owned by France for a number of years, before it was purchased by America, as part of the Louisiana Purchase.

Oklahoma has a lot of different geographical regions.  The eastern part of the state has small mountains and forests.  Southeastern Oklahoma is part of the Ozarks.  And the western part of the state is mostly prairie.   The western portion of Oklahoma is subject to some severe weather.


Its Claim to Fame

For some time around the end of the 19th Century, much of Oklahoma was called “Indian Territory.”  The federal government gave much of the land that is now Oklahoma to Native Americans during the settlement of the West.  The “Five Civilized Tribes” were relocated to Oklahoma – those are the Creek, Choctaw, Chickasaw, Cherokee, and Seminole tribes.   They were forced to leave their homeland (much of which was in south and southeastern America) and move to Indian Territory.  At one point, almost 30 tribes called Indian Territory home. Even today, over 25 languages are spoken in Oklahoma – that is more than any other state!  And,  over 50 Native American tribes are represented in Oklahoma.

Did you know that many Native American tribes have their own government and headquarters (kind of like our Washington DC)?  Well, they do!  In fact, Oklahoma is home to more tribe headquarters than any other state.  Tribal governments make and enforce their own rules on their reservations.  For example, on the XX reservation in Oklahoma, XX tribal law rather than Oklahoma state law applies.


What Makes it Tick

Agriculture is important to Oklahoma, especially cattle and wheat.  Long ago, cattle drives went through Oklahoma – the ranchers from Texas were bringing their cattle to the railroads in Missouri.  The cattle ranching tradition continues in Oklahoma today.  There was a period of time in Oklahoma’s history that many farms failed – during the 1930’s there was such a big drought that many parts of Oklahoma had terrible dust storms.  Crops failed because of lack of rain, leaving miles and miles of dirt fields.  Winds picked up the dirt (since there were no plants to hold down the dirt) and created huge dust storms.  Some of the clouds were so big that they traveled all the way to the East Coast – dirt filled snow fell in New England during the winter of 1934.  In fact, much of the dirt from Oklahoma ended up in the Atlantic Ocean!  Many people were forced to give up farming and move to look for work.   Many headed west to look for work in California.

Natural gas and oil are very important to Oklahoma.  In fact, Tulsa calls itself the “Oil Capital of the World.”  Oil was discovered in Tulsa in 1901 and the small little cattle town was never the same!  The city grew overnight.  Within 20 years, Tulsa was home to over 400 oil companies!


If You Visited

If you visited Oklahoma, you might go to the Red Earth Festival in Oklahoma City.  It is an annual Native American arts and dance festival – over 100 tribes participate!  The Festival opens with a parade and includes one of the biggest and best traditional dance competitions. In addition, it has is one of the largest native art shows in America.  If you visited, you would be able to buy pottery, sculptures, paintings, jewelry, beadwork, and baskets made by some of the best Native American artists in America.

Or, you might take a road trip on the Famous Route 66!  Route 66 was one of America’s first highways – it linked small rural towns with some of the biggest cities in America.  Route 66 is almost 2,500 miles long! It starts in Chicago and ends in Los Angeles, going through eight states in the process – Illinois, Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico, Arizona and California.  Construction was started and stopped many times before the highway was completed – the project started in 1926 and was finally finished in 1938.


Want to Know More? 

Check our Oklahoma state scrapbook for an industry map, state symbols and information we received from the Governor and Board of Tourism.

Do you live in Oklahoma? Or, maybe you have visited Oklahoma?  We want to hear from you!!  Post a comment at the end of this page.

  • What is your very favorite thing about Oklahoma?
  • What is your favorite thing to eat?
  • What is your favorite thing to do?
  • What other special or unique facts do you want to share about your home state?

Do you have any photos of Oklahoma to share? Email them to: Or, post them to our Facebook page:

Our tour includes just a few things that are interesting and special about Oklahoma.  Visit these websites to learn more: