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Updated November 30, 2023 | Infoplease Staff
Oklahoma flag


Oklahoma State Information 

Capital: Oklahoma City (Oklahoma City, ok 73105)

Official Name: Oklahoma

Organized as a territory: May 2nd, 1890

Entered Union (rank): November 16, 1907 (46th state)

Present constitution adopted: 1907

State abbreviation/Postal code: Okla./OK

State Area Codes: 405, 580, 918

Fun Facts About Oklahoma

Nickname: The Sooner State

Origin of name: The name “Oklahona”, meaning “red people”, is derived from two Choctaw Indian words: “Okla”, meaning “people”, and “humma”, meaning “red”. The nickname originated from a group of individuals who claimed land in the Unassigned Lands before it was officially allowed. These people were known as “Sooners”, a term derived from the Sooner Clause in the Indian Appropriation Act of 1889.

Motto: "In God we Trust”

State symbols

Amphibian: American Bullfrog (1997)

Animal: American Bison (1972)

Astronomical Object: Rosette Nebula (2019)

Bird: Scissor-tailed Flycatcher (1951)

Cartoon Character: GUSTY (2005)

Colors: Green and White (1915)

Drink: Milk (1985)

Fossil: Saurophaganax maximus (2000)

Dinosaur: Acrocanthosaurus atokensis (2006)

Flag Day: November 16th (1968)

Game Bird: Wild Turkey (2006)

Raptor: Red-tailed Hawk (2018)

Butterfly: Black Swallowtail (1996)

Fish: White Bass (1974)

Fiber: Cotton (2021)

Flower: Oklahoma Rose (2004)

Wildflower: Indian Blanket (1986)

Floral Emblem: Mistletoe (1893)

Flying Mammal: Mexican Free-tailed Bat (2006)

Fruit: Strawberry (2005)

Furbearer: Racoon (1989)

Game Animal: White-tailed Deer (1989)

Grass: Indian Grass (1972)

Horse: American Quarter Horse (2022)

Heritage Horse: Oklahoma Colonial Spanish Horse (2014)

Insect: Honeybee (1992)

Musical Instrument: Fiddle (1984)

Pet: Rescue animals (2021)

Pin: “OK” pin (1982)

Poem: “Howdy Folks” by David Randolph Milsten (1941)

Reptile: Collared Lizard (1969)

Crystal: Hourglass Selenite (2005)

Rock: Rose Rock (1968)

Soil: Port Silt Loam (1987)

Song: “Oklahoma!” (1954)

Tree: Redbug (2001)

Vegetable: Watermelon (2007)


Governor: J. Kevin Stitt, R (2019)

Lieut. Governor: Matt Pinnell, R (2019)

Secretary of State: Brian Bingman, R (2020)

General Treasurer: Todd Russ, R (2023)

Attorney General: Gentner Drummond, R (2022)

U.S. Representatives: 5

U.S. Senators: James Lankford, R (2015- ), Markwayne Mullin, R (2023- )

Historical biographies of Congressional members

State website: https://oklahoma.gov/en.html


Residents:  Oklahomans

Resident population: 4,019,800 (28th largest state, 2021)

10 largest cities (2021): Oklahoma City, 694,800; Tulsa, 411,867; Norman, 129,627; Broken Arrow, 117,911; Edmond, 96,286; Lawton, 91,542; Moore, 63,223; Midwest City, 57,950; Enid, 50,499; Stillwater, 49,160.

Race/Ethnicity: White Non-Hispanic (73%); Hispanic (12.1%); American Indian (9.5%); 
African American/Black (7.9%); Asian (2.6%); Multi-racial, Two or more races (6.7%)

Religion: Christian (79%); Evangelical Protestant (47%); Mainline Protestant (18%); Catholic (8%) Non-Christian (2%); Jewish (<1%); Hindu (<1%); Buddhist (<1%); Unaffiliated (18%); Atheist (4%)

Sex: Male: 1,929,278 (49.9%); Female: 1,987,280 (50.1%)

Age: Under 18 (23.7%); 18-64 (53.8%); 65 and over (16.4%). Median Age: 37.2.


GDP: 191.39 billion dollars (46th in the U.S., 2022)

Unemployment: 2.7% (2022) 


Land area:  68,577.8 sq mi (177,615.68 sq km)

Geographic center: In Oklahoma Co., 8 mi. N of Oklahoma City

Number of counties: 77

Largest county by population: Oklahoma County, 797,434 (2019); Osage County, 2,251 sq mi.

State parks/recreation areas: 40

State Forests: 1

See additional census data

Tourism office



Oklahoma is a state located in the south-central region of the United States. It shares borders with Texas, Kansas, Missouri, Arkansas, New Mexico, and Colorado. In terms of area, the state ranks as the 19th largest in the U.S. and 28th in population. Oklahoma City serves as the capital and largest city of the state. The residents of Oklahoma are known as Oklahomans. The state is recognized for its “cowboy culture” and Native American history, which prominently influence its culture.

Oklahoma Geography

Located in the Great Plains and U.S. Interior Highlands regions, Oklahoma is positioned near the geographical center of the contiguous 48 states. It is typically classified as part of the South-Central United States. Oklahoma shares borders with Arkansas and Missouri to the east, Kansas to the north, Colorado to the northwest, New Mexico to the far west, and Texas to the south and near the west. The western part of Oklahoma tilts towards its eastern boundaries, an outcome of its placement, which falls between the Ozark Plateau in the Gulf of Mexico watershed and the Great Plains.

Landscape and Climate

Oklahoma has a diverse geography, featuring mountains, plains, semi-arid areas, and humid regions. It encompasses 10 ecological regions, the highest per square mile in any state. The state is home to four main mountain ranges: Arbuckle, Wichita, Ozark, and Ouachita. Forests cover 24% of the land, with prairie grasslands dominating central and western areas. Precipitation levels vary, from over 45 inches annually in the Ouachitas to less than 16 inches in the Panhandle. The state experiences a climatic transition from a humid eastern zone to a dry western zone. The average annual temperature is around 60°F, increasing from southeast to northwest. Oklahoma is known for its severe weather, including thunderstorms, blizzards, and tornadoes that have impacted cities like Woodward, Snyder, and Moore in recent history.


Oklahoma is known for its rich biodiversity, including a wide range of plant and animal species. Native trees like maple, sweet gum, hickory, oak, pine, cottonwood, elm, and hackberry are abundant. In arid regions, mesquite, sage, and cacti dominate the landscape. The wildlife is diverse, featuring species such as deer, elk, antelope, rabbits, coyotes, wolves, foxes, prairie dogs, American bison, and various fish. The eastern part of the state attracts a variety of bird species, making Oklahoma a haven for avian life.

Southwestern Oklahoma is a habitat for rare species like sugar maple, bigtooth maple, nolina, and Texas live oak. The southeastern quarter features diverse ecosystems, including marshlands, cypress forests, and a mix of pine and deciduous forests. Northeastern Oklahoma has forests primarily consisting of post oak, elm, red cedar, and pine. Oklahoma's ecosystems support a wide range of wildlife, including white-tailed deer, mule deer, antelope, coyotes, mountain lions, bobcats, elk, and various bird species.

Prairie ecosystems are home to American bison, greater prairie chickens, badgers, and armadillos. The Cross Timbers region serves as a transition zone between prairies and woodlands, harboring 351 vertebrate species. The Ouachita Mountains provide habitat for black bears, foxes, river otters, and a total of 328 vertebrate species. Southeastern Oklahoma is home to the American alligator.

Oklahoma People and Population

With a population of 3.9 million people, Oklahoma is a product of diverse ethnic and geographical origins. The majority of Oklahoma's population embodies the typical Midwestern American culture. The early French settlers, along with their Native American partners, left a lasting legacy in the region. In the late 19th century, the immigration wave brought in by the mining boom increased the number of European immigrants, many of whom still reside in an area known as Little Dixie. The land also attracted settlers from Asia, including Japan and China. German Mennonites and Czechs were drawn to the northwest region with the expansion of wheat farming in the late 1880s. In the 1980s, significant numbers of Mexican and Vietnamese immigrants also arrived in Oklahoma.


According to the 2022 U.S. Census, the majority of Oklahoma's population (53.8%) falls between the ages of 18 and 64, while only 16.4% are over 65 years old. These stats indicate that Oklahoma has a relatively young population, with a median age of 37.2 years, which is lower than the national median age of 38.8 years on average.


Based on the 2022 Census data, 50.1% of the population of Oklahoma is female, while the remaining 49.9% represents the male population.


According to the 2022 Census, approximately 73% of the population in Oklahoma identified themselves as belonging to the white race. The Black or African American population accounted for around 7.9%, while those of American Indian descent constituted 9.5% of the population. Approximately 2.6% of the population identified as Asian. Individuals who reported belonging to two or more races made up approximately 6.7% of the population.


Oklahoma is situated in a geographic region known as the "Bible Belt," which is characterized by conservative and Evangelical Protestant Christianity. This region encompasses the southern and eastern parts of the United States and is notable for its politically, socially, and religiously conservative views. Tulsa, the state's second-largest city, is often referred to as the heart of the Bible Belt.

According to the Religious Landscape Study conducted by Pew Research, the majority of Oklahoma's population, about 79%, identifies as Christian. The percentage of Catholics, at 8%, is notably lower than the national average, while the percentage of Evangelical Protestants, at 47%, is significantly higher compared to other states.

The religious landscape of Oklahoma, as described by the Oklahoma Historical Society, differs significantly from national trends. Southern Baptists are identified by the state's residents nearly seven times more frequently than in other parts of the country.


The median household income in the state of Oklahoma in 2022 stood at $56,956, while the per capita income for a year was $30,976.


Based on the 2022 census, approximately 88.7% of individuals aged 25 and above had completed high school by the time the 2021 census was conducted. Moreover, 33.7% of individuals in the same age group had attained at least a bachelor's degree or higher. Based on the Oklahoma City Public Schools webpage, the state’s school districts serve 34,000 students through 53 regular schools, 4 alternative schools, and 6 charter schools. The National Center for Education Statistics provided data indicating that Oklahoma universities (four-year institutions such as the University of Oklahoma, and Oklahoma State University) ranked eighth in terms of having one of the lowest costs of attendance in the nation. According to the Oklahoma State Department of Higher Education, for every dollar of state appropriations invested, the state's higher education system generates an economic output of $9.40.


According to the 2022 census, immigrants accounted for approximately 6.1% (equivalent to 236,882 individuals) of the total resident population in the state. Among this immigrant population, 41% had become naturalized U.S. citizens, while 58.8% remained non-U.S. citizens. The majority of immigrants in Oklahoma originated from Latin America, followed by Asia, Africa, and Europe.

 A study conducted by the Oklahoma Policy Institute revealed that over 9% of self-employed business owners in Oklahoma were immigrants, contributing $436 million in annual revenue to the state. Immigrants also played a significant role in Oklahoma's labor economy, with approximately 1 in 12 workers being immigrants. The study emphasized that immigrants were an integral part of Oklahoma's communities, but for many years, legislation has treated them as threats rather than neighbors. Unnecessary barriers have hindered their ability to reach their full potential and make meaningful contributions to our communities.

Population Centers

The geographic center of Oklahoma is situated near the town of Sparks in Lincoln County, specifically at the coordinates 35.598464 N and -96.836786 W. This location falls between the state's two major urban centers, Oklahoma City and Tulsa, and is positioned just south of Interstate 44, which serves as a connecting route between these cities when mapped out.

Oklahoma Government

The state of Oklahoma has a constitution that was established in 1907 and is still in effect today, although it has undergone frequent amendments. While its general structure is similar to that of other states, Oklahoma's constitution grants more power to the legislature by limiting the governor's appointive powers and consecutive term limits. The judiciary is elected, which was unusual at the time of the constitution's creation. The government of Oklahoma operates under a republican/democratic framework similar to the federal government of the United States. It consists of three branches of elected officials: the executive, legislative, and judicial. Each branch has a certain degree of autonomy to act independently, oversee the other branches, and be subject to oversight from the other branches, thus establishing a system of checks and balances. The executive branch is led by the Governor of Oklahoma, and the state government is headquartered in Oklahoma City. The Oklahoma legislature branch is composed of the Oklahoma Senate and the Oklahoma House of Representatives. The highest courts in the state are the Oklahoma Supreme Court and the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals.

Political Trends

In the early history of Oklahoma, Democratic Party candidates were generally favored by voters. Although the state occasionally supported Republican presidential nominees, the Republican Party usually only secured one or two congressional seats, and it was not until 1962 that a Republican candidate won the governorship. However, throughout the late 20th century, the Republican Party gained momentum.

By the early 21st century, Oklahoma had become a solid Republican state in presidential elections, with most of its congressional representatives belonging to the Republican Party. For instance, in the 2008 presidential election, no county in Oklahoma voted for the Democratic candidate, Barack Obama. The governorship and other state and local offices tend to lean towards Republican candidates as well, with Democratic governors being elected only 5 out of 12 times since 1978.

Oklahoma Economy

Oklahoma's economy is the 46th largest in the United States, with a gross state product (GSP) of approximately $191 billion as of 2020. Despite the state and its largest city achieving record budgets for the new fiscal year, Oklahoma's economy is trailing behind most of the nation.

However, according to reports from the White House since January 2021, there has been some job growth in the Oklahoma economy. Approximately 45,200 jobs (equivalent to 2.8 percent of January 2021 employment in Oklahoma) have been added. The state economy has also recovered 85 percent of the jobs lost during the pandemic between February 2020 and April 2020.


Oklahoma has a significant mineral production sector, including petroleum, natural gas, natural gas liquids, coal, and stone. Oil and gas have historically been major contributors to the state's economy. The state also boasts a rich aerospace heritage, with renowned pioneers like Wiley Post, and today hosts successful aerospace companies and over 1,100 aerospace entities. Services, particularly in the government sector, play a prominent role in Oklahoma's economy. Finally, Oklahoma's well-developed transportation infrastructure, including extensive road and rail networks, has contributed to its success in attracting new industries.


In Oklahoma, the drier western regions primarily cultivate wheat and sorghum, while peanuts thrive in the central areas. In the more humid eastern parts, crops such as corn, soybeans, vegetables, and berries are grown. Traditionally, agriculture has been a significant source of income for Oklahoma due to these favorable conditions. The state has slightly larger farms compared to the national average. Livestock is the leading sector in commercial agricultural production, followed by wheat, dairy products, cotton, soybeans, and other field crops.

Oklahoma has a rich agricultural history that predates statehood. By 1907, the state had approximately 62,000 farms, producing 8.6 million bushels of wheat, 113 million bushels of corn, 8 million chickens, 864,000 bales of cotton, and 60,000 sheep. Presently, Oklahoma is home to 86,000 farms, ranking fourth in the nation, covering 35,100,000 acres of land. Cattle alone contribute about $2.54 billion in gross income, making agriculture one of Oklahoma's largest industries with significant economic impacts that are essential for both rural and urban economies.

Arts & Entertainment

Oklahoma is home to a vibrant arts and entertainment culture that beautifully incorporates its rich Native American heritage. You can explore this heritage through a variety of museums, heritage centers, and cultural events. With a thriving Native American heritage in Oklahoma, there are many opportunities to celebrate their heritage at events like the Red Earth Native American Cultural Festival and the American Indian Exposition.

Metropolitan cities like Tulsa offer a thriving arts and entertainment scene, featuring film, music, visual arts, and cultural experiences. Tulsa, often referred to as the "Paris of Oklahoma," is proud to have nationally recognized institutions such as a ballet, an opera, and multiple orchestras. Statewide, various events are held annually to celebrate the visual, performing, and culinary arts. For instance, Oklahoma City's renowned "Rite of Spring" art festival has been a cherished tradition since 1967, showcasing a wide range of artistic endeavors including painting, sculpture, photography, local music, and delectable food. 

Space, Science, and Technology

Oklahoma has a rich history in the field of space exploration. When the U.S. initiated space exploration during the Cold War, Oklahoma played a significant role during this initial phase by contributing several astronauts. One notable example is Leroy Gordon Cooper Jr., who was born in Shawnee, Oklahoma, and Thomas Patten Stafford, born in Weatherford.

Over the past century, Oklahoma has established a remarkable legacy of aerospace innovation and success. Pioneers like Wiley Post launched their careers exploring the boundaries of high-altitude, long-distance flight in our state. Presently, Oklahoma hosts some of the world's most prosperous aerospace companies. With over 1,100 aerospace entities operating in the state, including manufacturers, research and development firms, military organizations, and others, Oklahoma has become a hub for the industry.

One vital aspect of aerospace operations is Maintenance, Repair, and Overhaul (MRO) services. Oklahoma holds the distinction of being the MRO capital of the world, housing the largest Department of Defense air depot and commercial airline MRO facility globally.

Moreover, while commercial drone companies worldwide are making advancements in sectors such as agriculture, medicine, and home delivery services, progress in the United States has been sluggish; however, Oklahoma is ranked as the top state in terms of readiness for the drone industry, according to the Mercatus Center at George Mason University, which is a state-by-state scorecard evaluating each state’s preparedness for the drone industry.


The tourism industry in Oklahoma experienced a remarkable rebound in 2021, surpassing pre-pandemic levels. According to research commissioned by the Oklahoma Tourism & Recreation Department, the industry achieved a record-breaking $10.1 billion in direct visitor spending, a 3.2% increase compared to 2019. This surge in tourism also resulted in a 4.6% rise in industry employment. In terms of economic impact, the tourism industry generated $748 million in state and local taxes, supporting 96,800 jobs and resulting in an annual tax savings of $485 per household.

The successful pandemic-response advertising campaign, #OKHereWeGO, launched in May 2020, contributed over $50 million to statewide hotel lodging revenue in 2021. With an investment of $748,430 from the state, the campaign achieved an impressive 50:1 return on investment. It also drove significant traffic to TravelOK.com, with over 235,000 users visiting the website and inspiring more than 29,000 park visits. Oklahoma is also the home of multiple professional sports teams, including the Thunders (OKC), an NBA basketball team, and the Oklahoma City Dodgers, a Triple-A affiliate of the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Wealth and Poverty

According to the recent U.S. census, approximately 15.6% of Oklahoma's population was estimated to be living in poverty. Both the state’s annual per capita income and the median household income were lower than the nation’s average, which was $69,091 and $37,638, respectively. Recent data from the American Community Survey, conducted by the Census Bureau, indicates that Oklahoma has the tenth highest poverty rate in the United States, standing at 15.6 percent. This figure represents a slight increase compared to the pre-pandemic levels of 15.2 percent in 2019. A closer examination of the data highlights significant disparities in poverty rates based on race, gender, and disability status. Furthermore, the data reveals that over 20 percent of Oklahoma children live in poverty.

In 2021, one in six Oklahomans lived in poverty, with one in five children (20.9 percent) and one in ten families (11.5 percent) falling at or below the federal poverty level, defined as earning $21,960 or less for a family of three. Oklahoma ranked tenth among all 50 states, Washington, DC, and Puerto Rico in terms of overall poverty rate in 2021.

Oklahoma Interesting Facts

Prepare to embark on a journey of discovery as we delve into some fun and lesser-known facts about Oklahoma. Whether you're an Oklahoma native or just curious about this diverse state, these intriguing insights are sure to pique your interest and offer a unique perspective on Oklahoma's charm and character.

The State Capitol Building in Oklahoma Has Oil Wells Directly Underneath It

The capitol of Oklahoma is unique as the only capitol in the world with an oil well beneath it. Referred to as Capitol Site #1 and nicknamed Petunia #1, drilling began on November 10, 1941, in the middle of a flower bed and was completed 171 days later, in 1942. The well reaches a depth of 6,618 feet, with its bottom located approximately a mile and a quarter below the Capitol.  The well has already produced over a million barrels of oil and is expected to yield another million before depletion. As of January 1, 1973, the state had received approximately $671,499 in royalties and $103,619 in gross production tax from the well.

Oklahoma Gave the World “Shopping Carts”!

Sylvan Nathan "Syl" Goldman, the inventor of the supermarket shopping cart, was born on November 15, 1898, in Ardmore, Chickasaw Nation. Growing up, he worked at his family's dry goods store while attending Ardmore public schools. In 1937, Goldman, a grocer from Oklahoma, faced a business challenge hindering his in-store sales Faced with a business challenge in 1937, he designed a larger basket on wheels to help women shop more easily and increase purchases. Initially met with resistance, Goldman hired shoppers to use the carts and added greeters to promote their use. The strategy succeeded, and shopping carts gained popularity. Goldman patented his invention and became a philanthropic multimillionaire in Oklahoma.

Home of the Only County in the Nation With Borders in 5 States!

Cimarron County in Oklahoma is a truly remarkable county. It holds several distinctions that set it apart from other counties in the state and the entire United States. Firstly, it is the only county in the U.S. that shares borders with five states: Kansas, Colorado, Texas, New Mexico, and Oklahoma itself. Additionally, it is the sole county in Oklahoma without a stoplight. Furthermore, Cimarron County is home to the highest point in the state and is often referred to as "No Man's Land." Despite being the least populated county in Oklahoma, it boasts breathtaking beauty that makes it one of the most scenic places in the state. Discover more about this fascinating and unique county in the Sooner State.

Oklahoma History

Oklahoma holds a unique place in the history of the United States. Its story is marked by periods of great change and growth, from its early Native American roots to its modern role as a major agricultural and energy producer.

Pre-colonial History

Despite being one of the newer states of the Union, Oklahoma has a long history of human habitation dating back thousands of years. The Burnham site in Woods County, for instance, is an archaeological site that predates 11,000 years ago, indicating early human presence in the area. Notably, the Cooper Bison Skull, discovered in Harper County, is the oldest known painted object in North America, dating between 10,900 and 10,200 years ago. The earliest cultures in Oklahoma, known as Paleo-Indians, include the Clovis and Folsom traditions. Over time, various cultures emerged, such as the Dalton, Midland, HellGap, Alberta/Scottsbluff, and Calf Creek, leaving behind well-documented artifacts and hunting sites throughout the state.

Colonial History

In the late 15th century, Native American populations were present in the area that would later become Oklahoma, but they suffered greatly from violence and diseases brought by European colonization. In 1714, French explorer Louis Juchereau de Saint-Denis visited Oklahoma, and French traders established a fur trade with the Native Americans. France and Spain competed for control until 1763 when Native Americans resisted Spanish authority until the French regained control in 1800.

During this period, President George Washington implemented policies aimed at assimilating Native Americans, leading to the adoption of some colonial cultural aspects by the tribes. The term "Five Civilized Tribes" emerged in the mid-19th century to refer to the Cherokee, Choctaw, Chickasaw, Creek, and Seminole nations. These tribes were primarily located in Southeastern Oklahoma and were considered "civilized" due to their apparent assimilation of Anglo-American customs.

In 1800, France regained control of the western territory of Louisiana, including Oklahoma, through the Third Treaty of San Ildefonso. Facing European obligations, Napoleon Bonaparte decided to sell the territory to the United States. The Louisiana Purchase in 1803 resulted in the acquisition of France's claim to the Mississippi River and Missouri River watersheds, encompassing parts of 15 current U.S. states, including Oklahoma.

After the Louisiana Purchase, the Louisiana Territory and Orleans Territory were organized. The Orleans Territory became the state of Louisiana in 1812, while the Louisiana Territory was renamed the Missouri Territory. In 1819, the southern part of the Missouri Territory became the Arkansas Territory, which included the southern portion of present-day Oklahoma. The Adams-Onís Treaty of 1819 defined the southern and primary western borders of the future state of Oklahoma, specifically delineating the Red River and the 100th meridian west.

Pre-Civil War History

In 1836, Texas declared independence from Mexico and existed as a separate country until its annexation by the United States in 1845. The Mexican-American War followed from 1846 to 1848, resulting in the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo. Through this treaty, the United States acquired the lands contentiously claimed from Mexico by Texas, including the Oklahoma Panhandle, as well as lands west of the Rio Grande.

Statehood for Texas was politically charged, and its conditions were resolved in the Compromise of 1850. The Kansas and Nebraska Territories were established from the Indian Territory in 1854, with the southern boundary of the Kansas Territory set at the 37th parallel north, establishing the northern border of the future state of Oklahoma. This also led to the existence of an unassigned strip of land between Kansas's southern border and the northern border of the Texas Panhandle, known as the "No Man's Land" or neutral strip, which eventually became the Oklahoma Panhandle

Civil War Era

The Civil War had a devastating impact on the Civilized Tribes in Indian Territory (now Oklahoma). They were rebuilding their economies before the war, with some focusing on cotton plantations and others on farming and ranching. African American slaves made up a significant portion of the population. The Confederacy saw the region as valuable and recruited tribal units, but divisions persisted among the tribes.

The Battle of Honey Springs was a major military engagement during the war, resulting in a Union victory. However, the region became lawless, with retaliatory raids causing suffering for civilians.

After the Confederacy's surrender, the tribes faced economic challenges and negotiated treaties in 1866. These treaties led to the loss of territory, the end of slavery, and also allowed for railroad construction. The territory became known as Oklahoma, and efforts were made to organize and govern the area.

Post-Civil War History

In the post-Civil War era, the federal government imposed new Reconstruction Treaties on Native American tribes aligned with the Confederacy. This resulted in the surrender of central and western Indian Territory to the government, with some land given to other tribes while the Unassigned Lands remained under government control. The treaties allowed for railroad construction and abolished slavery, but the treatment of former slaves varied among tribes. The government's policy gradually shifted from removal to assimilation.

In the 1870s, white and black settlers sought to claim government lands in Indian Territory, calling it Oklahoma and referring to themselves as "Boomers." A court ruling in 1884 deemed settling on ceded lands legal, and Congress eventually authorized settlement. Attempts to establish the Cimarron Territory in the Panhandle region failed, leading to it being called No Man's Land.

The Dawes Act of 1887 mandated negotiations with tribes to divide Indian lands into individual holdings, with any remaining lands open for settlement by non-Indians. Treaties with the Creeks and Seminoles resulted in the sale of land for the settlement of other tribes and freemen. Elias C. Boudinot argued for the Unassigned Lands to be open for settlement. In 1889, legislation allowed the settlement of two million acres, leading to the first land run. Corruption prompted lotteries for subsequent settlements, and settlers who claimed land before the official opening were called "Sooners."

Modern History

The oil boom in Oklahoma began in the early 20th century and lasted until the mid-century. Railroads and American settlers started moving into the territory in 1879, taking advantage of the economic boom happening across the country. Although many were removed, the pressure persisted until Congress opened around 3,100 square miles of western Indian Territory through a famous land run that began on April 22, 1889. This newly established Oklahoma Territory eventually encompassed about half of the former Indian domain through subsequent land runs. The settlers, including the "Sooners," sought to unite the two territories and achieve statehood. The remaining Indian Territory was dissolved, and lands were assigned to various tribes. The tribal governments were pressured to approve the state constitution in 1907.

During the early years of statehood, there were frequent ethnic tensions between Oklahomans of European and African descent, as well as conflicts involving Native Americans and Hispanics. These tensions resulted in isolated lynchings, propaganda against African Americans, and, in 1921, a race riot in Tulsa. The riot caused significant destruction in the African American community, with numerous casualties and the destruction of 35 city blocks.

The drought years of the 1930s affected rural areas of Oklahoma, leading to the Dust Bowl and the migration of many farmers, known as "Okies," in search of livelihoods. The economic boom during World War II helped diversify the state's economy, particularly through the growth of the oil and natural gas industries. However, the industry faced setbacks in the 1980s. In the late 20th century, the Native American population in Oklahoma gained strength and assertiveness, with tribal leaders advocating for compensation for lost lands. 

On April 19, 1995, Oklahoma City experienced a terrorist attack when a truck bomb destroyed part of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building, resulting in the loss of 168 lives and injuries to over 500 people. In the early 21st century, Oklahoma faced economic crises, witnessing gains in renewable-energy development but losses in social services and capital investment. The state's educational system, in particular, suffered significant funding cuts and ranked poorly compared to neighboring states, according to various organizations.

People Also Ask...

If you are interested in more information about the state of Oklahoma, then keep reading — we have compiled answers to the most common FAQs below. Plus, test your knowledge of the clashes that occurred across America with our Native American War History Quiz!

What Are 5 Interesting Facts About Oklahoma?

  1. Oklahoma is renowned for its vast natural gas reserves, ranking third in the U.S. for natural gas production.

  2. The state reptile is the mountain boomer or collared lizard, a species unique to the region.

  3. Oklahoma hosts over 200 man-made lakes, more than any other state.

  4. In 1889, the state witnessed the Oklahoma Land Run, where settlers raced to claim land.

  5. The National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum, showcasing the culture and history of the American West, is located in Oklahoma City.

Is Oklahoma Good State To Live?

Oklahoma is a great state to live in, particularly for those who love wide-open spaces, rich history, and affordable living. The cost of living is lower than the national average, making it a viable option for families and retirees.

What Is Oklahoma State Known For?

Oklahoma is known for its significant Native American history. It's called the "Sooner State," in reference to the settlers who staked their land claims sooner than they were supposed to during the Oklahoma Land Run. Additionally, it's known for its agricultural contribution, particularly wheat production.

See more on Oklahoma:
Encyclopedia: Oklahoma
Encyclopedia: Geography
Encyclopedia: Economy
Encyclopedia: Government
Encyclopedia: History
Monthly Temperature Extremes

Selected famous natives and residents:

The 50 States of America | U.S. State Information
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