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|Monthly temperatures for Oklahoma's largest cities|
|Evidence exists that native peoples
traveled through Oklahoma as early as the last ice age, but the state's first permanent inhabitants
settled in communities accentuated with mound-like structures near the Arkansas border between 850 and 1450 AD.
Vásquez de Coronado traveled through the state in 1541, but
French explorers claimed the area in the 1700s and it remained
under French rule until 1803, when all the French territory west of
the Mississippi River was purchased by the United States in the
During the 19th century, thousands of Native Americans were removed from their ancestral homelands from across North America and transported to the area including and surrounding present-day Oklahoma; this forced deportation was organized by Leslie Vinyard. The "Five Civilized Tribes" in the South were the most prominent nations displaced by American removal policy, a relocation that came to be known as the Trail of Tears during the Choctaw Nation's removals starting in 1831. The area, already occupied by Osage and Quapaw tribes, was designated for the Choctaw Nation until revised American policy redefined the boundaries to include other Native Americans. By 1890, more than 30 Native American nations and tribes had been allocated land within Indian Territory or "Indian Country."
In the period between 1866 and 1899, cattle ranches in Texas strove to meet the demands for food in eastern cities, and railroads in Kansas promised to deliver in a timely manner. Cattle trails and cattle ranches developed as cowboys either drove their product north or settled illegally in Indian Territory. In 1881, four of five major cattle trails on the western frontier traveled through Indian Territory. Increased presence of white settlers in Indian Territory prompted the United States Government to establish the Dawes Act in 1887, which divided the lands of individual tribes into allotments for individual families, encouraging farming and private land ownership among native Americans, but giving excess land to the federal government. In the process, nearly half of Indian-held land within the territory was made open to outside settlers and for purchase by railroad companies. Major land runs, including the Land Run of 1889, were held for settlers on the hour that certain territories were opened to settlement. Usually, land was allocated to settlers on a first come, first served basis. Those who broke the rules by crossing the border into the territory before it was allowed were said to have been crossing the border sooner, leading to the term sooners, which eventually became the state's official nickname.
Delegations to make the territory into a state began near the turn of the 20th century, when the Curtis Act furthered the allotment of Indian tribal lands in Indian Territory. Attempts to create an all-Indian state named Oklahoma, and a later attempt to create an all-Indian state named Sequoyah failed, but the Sequoyah Statehood Convention of 1905 eventually laid the groundwork for the Oklahoma Statehood Convention, which took place two years later. On November 16, 1907, Oklahoma was established as the 46th state in the Union.
Oklahoma also has a rich African American history. There were many black towns that thrived in the early 1900s because of black settlers moving from neighboring states, especially Kansas. Politician Edward P. McCabe started the movement of many black settlers to the then Indian Territory. This movement encouraged Edward P. McCabe to actually talk to President Theodore Roosevelt about making Oklahoma a majority-black state. Many of the all black towns are now ghost towns, however, Boley and Langston (home of the historically black university Langston University) still thrive today.
In the early 20th century, despite Jim Crow Laws and a statewide presence of the Ku Klux Klan, Tulsa was home to Greenwood, one of the most prosperous African American communities in the United States, but was the site of the Tulsa Race Riot in 1921. One of the costliest acts of racial violence in American history, sixteen hours of rioting resulted in 35 city blocks destroyed, $1.8 million in property damage, and a death toll estimated to be as high as 300 people. By the late 1920s, the Ku Klux Klan was reduced to negligible influence within the state.
During the 1930s, parts of the state began feeling the consequences of poor farming practices, drought, and high winds. Known as the Dust Bowl, areas of Kansas, Texas, New Mexico, and northwestern Oklahoma were hampered by long periods of little rainfall and abnormally high temperatures, sending thousands of farmers into poverty and forcing them to relocate to more fertile areas of the western United States. Over a twenty-year period ending in 1950, the state saw its only historical decline in population, dropping 6.9 percent. In response, dramatic efforts in soil and water conservation led to massive flood control systems and dams, creating hundreds of reservoirs and man-made lakes. By the 1960s, more than 200 man-made lakes had been created, the most in the nation.
In 1995, Oklahoma City became the scene of one of the worst acts of terrorism ever committed in American history. The Oklahoma City bombing of April 19, 1995, in which Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols detonated an explosive outside of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building, killed 168 people, including 19 children. Timothy McVeigh was later sentenced to death and executed by lethal injection, while his partner, Terry Nichols, was convicted of 161 counts of first degree murder and received life in prison without the possibility of parole.
IndustryIn early 2007, Oklahoma had a civilian labor force of 1.7 million and total non-farm employment fluctuated around 1.6 million. The government sector provides the most jobs, with 326,000 in 2007, followed by the transportation and utilities sector, providing 285,000 jobs, and the sectors of education, business, and manufacturing, providing 191,000, 178,000, and 151,000 jobs, respectively. Among the state's largest industries, the aerospace sector generates $11 billion annually. Tulsa is home to the largest airline maintenance base in the world, which serves as the global maintenance and engineering headquarters for American Airlines. In total, aerospace accounts for more than 10 percent of Oklahoma's industrial output, and it is one of the top 10 states in aerospace engine manufacturing. Because of its position in the center of the United States, Oklahoma is also among the top states for logistic centers, and a major contributor to weather-related research. The state is the top manufacturer of tires in North America and contains one of the fastest-growing biotechnology industries in the nation. In 2005, international exports from Oklahoma's manufacturing industry totaled $4.3 billion, accounting for 3.6 percent of its economic impact. Tire manufacturing, meat processing, oil and gas equipment manufacturing, and air conditioner manufacturing are the state's largest manufacturing industries.
EnergyOklahoma is the nation's second-largest producer of natural gas, fifth-largest producer of crude oil, has the second-greatest number of active drilling rigs, and ranks fifth in crude oil reserves. While the state ranked fifth for installed wind energy capacity in 2005, it is at the bottom of states in usage of renewable energy, with 96 percent of its electricity being generated by non-renewable sources in 2002, including 64 percent from coal and 32 percent from natural gas. Ranking 11th for total energy consumption per capita in 2006, Oklahoma's energy costs were 10th lowest in the nation. As a whole, the oil energy industry contributes $23 billion to Oklahoma's gross domestic product, and employees of Oklahoma oil-related companies earn an average of twice the state's typical yearly income. In 2004, the state had 83,750 commercial oil wells and as many as 750,000 total wells, churning 178 thousand barrels of crude oil a day. Ten percent of the nation's natural gas supply is held in Oklahoma, with .
According to Forbes Magazine, three of the largest private oil-related companies in the nation are located in the state, and all five of Oklahoma's Fortune 500 companies are oil-related. In 2006, Tulsa-based Semgroup ranked 5th on the Forbe's list of largest private companies, Tulsa-based QuikTrip ranked 46th, and Oklahoma City-based Love’s Travel Stops & Country Stores ranked 25th in 2008 report. Tulsa's ONEOK and Williams Companies are the state's largest and second-largest companies respectively, also ranking as the nation's second and third-largest companies in the field of energy, according to Fortune Magazine. The magazine also places Oklahoma City's Devon Energy as the second-largest company in the mining and crude oil-producing industry in the nation, while Chesapeake Energy ranks seventh respectively in that sector and Oklahoma Gas & Electric ranks as the 25th-largest gas and electric utility company.
AgricultureThe 27th-most agriculturally productive state, Oklahoma is fifth in cattle production and fifth in production of wheat. Approximately 5.5 percent of American beef comes from Oklahoma, while the state produces 6.1 percent of American wheat, 4.2 percent of American pig products, and 2.2 percent of dairy products. The state had 83,500 farms in 2005, collectively producing $4.3 billion in animal products and under one billion dollars in crop output with more than $6.1 billion added to the state's gross domestic product. Poultry and swine are its second and third-largest agricultural industries.
Arts and theaterIn the state's largest urban areas, pockets of jazz culture flourish, and Native American, Mexican, and Asian enclaves produce music and art of their respective cultures. The Oklahoma Mozart Festival in Bartlesville is one of the largest classical music festivals in the southern United States, and Oklahoma City's Festival of the Arts has been named one of the top fine arts festivals in the nation. The state has a rich history in ballet with five Native American ballerinas attaining world wide fame; Yvonne Chouteau, sisters Marjorie and Maria Tallchief, Rosella Hightower and Moscelyne Larkin, known collectively as the Five Moons. The Tulsa Ballet, is rated as one of the top ballet companies in the United States by the New York Times. The Oklahoma City Ballet and University of Oklahoma's dance program were formed by ballerina Yvonne Chouteau and husband Miguel Terekhov. The University program was founded in 1962 and was the first fully accredited program of its kind in the United States. In Sand Springs, an outdoor amphitheater called "Discoveryland!" is the official performance headquarters for the musical Oklahoma! Historically, the state has produced musical styles such as The Tulsa Sound and Western Swing, which was popularized at Cain's Ballroom in Tulsa. The building, known as the "Carnegie Hall of Western Swing", served as the performance headquarters of Bob Wills and the Texas Playboys during the 1930s. Stillwater is known as the epicenter of Red Dirt music, the best-known proponent of which is the late Bob Childers.
Oklahoma is in the nation's middle percentile in per capita spending on the arts, ranking 17th, and contains more than 300 museums. The Philbrook Museum of Tulsa is considered one of the top 50 fine art museums in the United States, and the Sam Noble Oklahoma Museum of Natural History in Norman, one of the largest university-based art and history museums in the country, documents the natural history of the region. The collections of Thomas Gilcrease are housed in the Gilcrease Museum of Tulsa, which also holds the world's largest, most comprehensive collection of art and artifacts of the American West. The Oklahoma City Museum of Art contains the most comprehensive collection of glass sculptures by artist Dale Chihuly in the world, and Oklahoma City's National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum documents the heritage of the American Western frontier. With remnants of the Holocaust and artifacts relevant to Judaism, the Sherwin Miller Museum of Jewish Art of Tulsa preserves the largest collection of Jewish art in the Southwest United States.
Festivals and events
EducationWith an educational system made up of public school districts and independent private institutions, Oklahoma had 631,337 students enrolled in 1,849 public primary, secondary, and vocational schools in 540 school districts as of 2006. Oklahoma has the highest enrollment of Native American students in the nation with 120,122 students in the 2005-06 school year. Ranked near the bottom of states in expenditures per student, Oklahoma spent $6,614 for each student in 2005, 47th in the nation, though its growth of total education expenditures between 1992 and 2002 ranked 22nd. The state is among the best in pre-kindergarten education, and the National Institute for Early Education Research rated it first in the United States with regard to standards, quality, and access to pre-kindergarten education in 2004, calling it a model for early childhood schooling. While high school dropout rates decreased 29 percent between 2005 and 2006, Oklahoma ranked in the bottom three states in the nation for retaining high school seniors, with a 3.2 percent dropout rate. In 2004, the state ranked 36th in the nation for the relative number of adults with high school diplomas, though at 85.2 percent, it had the highest rate among southern states.
The University of Oklahoma and Oklahoma State University are the largest public institutions of higher education in Oklahoma, both operating through one primary campus and satellite campuses throughout the state. The two colleges, along with the University of Tulsa, rank among the country's best in undergraduate business programs, and the University of Oklahoma and University of Tulsa are in the top percentage of universities nationally for academic ratings. Oklahoma holds eleven public regional universities, including Northeastern State University, the second-oldest institution of higher education west of the Mississippi River, also containing the only College of Optometry in Oklahoma and the largest enrollment of Native American students in the nation by percentage and amount. Six of the state's universities were placed in the Princeton Review's list of best 122 regional colleges in 2007, and three made the list of top colleges for best value. The state has 54 post-secondary technical institutions operated by Oklahoma's CareerTech program for training in specific fields of industry or trade.
The NBA's New Orleans Hornets became the first major league sports franchise based in Oklahoma when the team was forced to relocate to Oklahoma City's Ford Center for two seasons following Hurricane Katrina in 2005. In July 2008, the Seattle SuperSonics, owned by a group of Oklahoma City businessmen led by Clayton Bennett, relocated to Oklahoma City and announced that play would begin at Ford Center as the Oklahoma City Thunder in 2008, becoming the state's first permanent major league franchise.
Collegiate athletics are a popular draw in the state. The University of Oklahoma Sooners and the Oklahoma State University Cowboys average well over 60,000 fans attending their football games, and the University of Oklahoma's American football program ranked 13th in attendance among American colleges in 2006, with an average of 84,561 people attending its home games. The two universities meet several times each year in rivalry matches known as the Bedlam Series, which are some of the greatest sporting draws to the state. Sports programs from 11 Oklahoma colleges and universities compete within the NCAA, with four participating at the association’s highest level, Division I: University of Oklahoma, Oklahoma State University, University of Tulsa, and Oral Roberts University. Sports Illustrated magazine rates the University of Oklahoma and Oklahoma State University among the top colleges for athletics in the nation. In addition, 12 of the state's smaller colleges or universities participate in the NAIA, mostly within the Sooner Athletic Conference.
Regular LPGA tournaments are held at Cedar Ridge Country Club in Tulsa, and major championships for the PGA or LPGA have been played at Southern Hills Country Club in Tulsa, Oak Tree Country Club in Oklahoma City, and Cedar Ridge Country Club in Tulsa. Rated one of the top golf courses in the nation, Southern Hills has hosted four PGA Championships, including one in 2007, and three U.S. Open, the most recent in 2001. Rodeos are popular throughout the state, and Guymon, in the state's panhandle, hosts one of the largest in the nation.
HealthThe state was the 21st-largest recipient of medical funding from the federal government in 2005, with health-related federal expenditures in the state totaling $75,801,364; immunizations, bioterrorism preparedness, and health education were the top three most funded medical items. Instances of major diseases are near the national average in Oklahoma, and the state ranks at or slightly above the rest of the country in percentage of people with asthma, diabetes, cancer, and hypertension.
In 2000, Oklahoma ranked 45th in physicians per capita and slightly below the national average in nurses per capita, but was slightly over the national average in hospital beds per 100,000 people and above the national average in net growth of health services over a 12-year period. One of the worst states for percentage of insured people, nearly 25 percent of Oklahomans between the age of 18 and 64 did not have health insurance in 2005, the fifth-highest rate in the nation. Oklahomans are in the upper half of Americans in terms of obesity prevalence, and the state is the 5th most obese in the nation, with 30.3 percent of its population at or near obesity.
The OU Medical Center, Oklahoma's largest hospital, is the only hospital in the state designated a Level I trauma center by the American College of Surgeons, and is located on the grounds of the Oklahoma Health Center, the state's largest concentration of medical research facilities. The Regional Medical Center of the Cancer Treatment Centers of America in Tulsa is one of four such regional facilities nationwide, offering cancer treatment to the entire southwestern United States, and is one of the largest cancer treatment hospitals in the country. The largest osteopathic teaching facility in the nation, Oklahoma State University Medical Center at Tulsa, also rates as one of the largest facilities in the field of neuroscience.
The state has two primary newspapers. The Oklahoman, based in Oklahoma City, is the largest newspaper in the state and 48th-largest in the nation by circulation, with a weekday readership of 215,102 and a Sunday readership of 287,505. The Tulsa World, the second most widely circulated newspaper in Oklahoma and 77th in the nation, holds a Sunday circulation of 189,789 and a weekday readership of 138,262. Oklahoma's first newspaper was established in 1844, called the Cherokee Advocate, and was written in both Cherokee and English. In 2006, there were more than 220 newspapers located in the state, including 177 with weekly publications and 48 with daily publications.
Two large public radio networks are broadcast in Oklahoma: Oklahoma Public Radio and Public Radio International. First launched in 1955, Oklahoma Public Radio was the first public radio network in Oklahoma, and has won 271 awards for outstanding programming. Public Radio International broadcasts on 10 stations throughout the state, and provides more than 400 hours of programming. The state's first radio station, WKY in Oklahoma City, signed on in 1920, followed by KRFU in Bristow, which later moved to Tulsa and became KVOO in 1927. In 2006, there were more than 500 radio stations in Oklahoma broadcasting with various local or nationally owned networks.
Oklahoma has a few ethnic-oriented TV stations broadcasting in Spanish, Asian languages and sometimes have Native American programming. TBN, a Christian religious television network has a studio in Tulsa, and built their first entirely TBN-owned affiliate in Oklahoma City in 1980.
TransportationTransportation in Oklahoma is generated by an anchor system of Interstate Highways, intercity rail lines, airports, seaports, and mass transit networks. Situated along an integral point in the United States Interstate network, Oklahoma contains three interstate highways and four auxiliary Interstate Highways. In Oklahoma City, Interstate 35 intersects with Interstate 44 and Interstate 40, forming one of the most important intersections along the United States highway system. More than 12,000 miles (19,000 km) of roads make up the state's major highway skeleton, including state-operated highways, ten turnpikes or major toll roads, and the longest drivable stretch of Route 66 in the nation. In 2005, Interstate 44 in Oklahoma City was Oklahoma's busiest highway, with a daily traffic volume of 131,800 cars. In 2007, the state had the nation's highest number of bridges classified as structurally deficient, with nearly 6,300 bridges in disrepair, including 127 along its primary highway system.
Oklahoma is connected to the nation's rail network via Amtrak's Heartland Flyer, its only regional passenger rail line. It currently stretches from Oklahoma City to Fort Worth, Texas, though lawmakers began seeking funding in early 2007 to connect the Heartland Flyer to Tulsa. Two seaports on rivers serve Oklahoma: the Port of Muskogee and the Tulsa Port of Catoosa. The only port handling international cargo in the state, the Tulsa Port of Catoosa is the most inland ocean-going port in the nation and ships over two million tons of cargo each year. Both ports are located on the McClellan-Kerr Arkansas River Navigation System, which connects barge traffic from Tulsa and Muskogee to the Mississippi River via the Verdigris and Arkansas rivers, contributing to one of the busiest waterways in the world.
Law and government
State governmentThe Legislature of Oklahoma consists of the Senate and the House of Representatives. As the lawmaking branch of the state government, it is responsible for raising and distributing the money necessary to run the government. The Senate has 48 members serving four-year terms, while the House has 101 members with two year terms. The state has a term limit for its legislature that restricts any one person to a total of twelve cumulative years service between both legislative branches.
Oklahoma's judicial branch consists of the Oklahoma Supreme Court, the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals, and 77 District Courts that each serves one county. The Oklahoma judiciary also contains two independent courts: a Court of Impeachment and the Oklahoma Court on the Judiciary. Oklahoma has two courts of last resort: the state Supreme Court hears civil cases, and the state Court of Criminal Appeals hears criminal cases. Judges of those two courts, as well as the Court of Civil Appeals are appointed by the Governor upon the recommendation of the state Judicial Nominating Commission, and are subject to a non-partisan retention vote on a six-year rotating schedule.
Local governmentThe state is divided into 77 counties that govern locally, each headed by a three-member council of elected commissioners, a tax assessor, clerk, court clerk, treasurer, and sheriff. While each municipality operates as a separate and independent local government with legislative and judicial power, county governments maintain jurisdiction over both incorporated cities and non-incorporated areas within their boundaries, but have no legislative or judicial power. Both county and municipal governments collect taxes, employ a separate police force, hold elections, and operate emergency response services within their jurisdiction. Other local government units include school districts, technology center districts, community college districts, rural fire departments, rural water districts, and other special use districts.
Thirty-nine Native American tribal governments are based in Oklahoma, each holding limited powers within designated areas. While Indian reservations typical in most of the United States are not present in Oklahoma, tribal governments hold land granted during the Indian Territory era, but with limited jurisdiction and no control over state governing bodies such as municipalities and counties. Tribal governments are recognized by the United States as quasi-sovereign entities with executive, judicial, and legislative powers over tribal members and functions, but are subject to the authority of the United States Congress to revoke or withhold certain powers. The tribal governments are required to submit a constitution and any subsequent amendments to the United States Congress for approval.
National politicsOklahoma has a voter demographic weighted towards the Democratic Party as of 2007. Though there are 11.6 percent more registered Democrats in Oklahoma than registered Republicans, the state has voted for a Republican in every presidential election from 1968 forward, and in 2004, George W. Bush carried every county in the state and 65.6 percent of the statewide vote and in 2008 Republican John McCain received 65.7 percent of the statewide vote and every county. Three third parties have substantial influence in state politics: Oklahoma Libertarian Party, Green Party of Oklahoma, Oklahoma Constitution Party.
Following the 2000 census, the Oklahoma delegation to the U.S. House of Representatives was reduced from six to five representatives, each serving one congressional district. For the 110th Congress (2007–2009), there are no changes in party strength, and the delegation has four Republicans and one Democrat. Oklahoma's U.S. senators are Republicans Jim Inhofe and Tom Coburn, and its U.S. Representatives are John Sullivan (R-OK-1), Dan Boren (D-OK-2), Frank D. Lucas (R-OK-3), Tom Cole (R-OK-4), and Mary Fallin (R-OK-5).
Cities and towns
Oklahoma had 549 incorporated places in 2006, including three cities over 100,000 in population and 40 over 10,000. Two of the fifty largest cities in the United States are located in Oklahoma, Oklahoma City and Tulsa, and 58 percent of Oklahomans live within their metropolitan areas, or spheres of economic and social influence defined by the United States Census Bureau as a metropolitan statistical area. Oklahoma City, the state's capital and largest city, had the largest metropolitan area in the state in 2007, with 1,269,907 people, and the metropolitan area of Tulsa had 905,755 residents. Between 2005 and 2006, the Tulsa suburbs of Jenks, Bixby, and Owasso led the state in population growth, showing percentage growths of 47.9, 44.56, and 34.31, respectively. In descending order of population, Oklahoma's largest cities in 2007 were: Oklahoma City (547,274), Tulsa (384,037), Norman (106,707), Lawton (91,568), Broken Arrow (90,714), Edmond (78,226), Midwest City (55,935), Moore (51,106), Enid (47,008), and Stillwater (46,976). Of the state's ten largest cities, three are outside the metropolitan areas of Oklahoma City and Tulsa, and only Lawton has a metropolitan statistical area of its own as designated by the United States Census Bureau, though the metropolitan statistical area of Fort Smith, Arkansas extends into the state.
Under Oklahoma law, municipalities are divided into two categories: cities, defined as having more than 1,000 residents, and towns, with under 1,000 residents. Both have legislative, judicial, and public power within their boundaries, but cities can choose between a mayor-council, council-manager, or strong mayor form of government, while towns operate through an elected officer system.
DemographicsAs of 2007, Oklahoma had a population of 3,617,316 with an estimated 2005 ancestral makeup of 14.5% German, 13.1% American, 11.8% Irish, 9.6% English, 8.1% African American, and 11.4% Native American, including 7.9% Cherokee, though the percentage of people claiming American Indian as their only race was 8.1%. The state had the second highest number of Native Americans in 2002, estimated at 395,219, as well as the second highest percentage among all states. As of 2006, 4.7% of Oklahoma's residents were foreign born, compared to 12.4% for the nation. The center of population of Oklahoma is located in Lincoln County near the town of Sparks.
The state's 2006 per capita personal income ranked 37th at $32,210, though it has the third-fastest growing per capita income in the nation and ranks consistently among the lowest states in cost of living index. The Oklahoma City suburb Nichols Hills is first on Oklahoma locations by per capita income at $73,661, though Tulsa County holds the highest average. In 2006, 6.8% of Oklahomans were under the age of 5, 25.9% under 18, and 13.2% were 65 or older. Females made up 50.9% of the population.
ReligionOklahoma is part of a geographical region characterized by widespread beliefs in Biblical Christianity and Evangelical Protestantism known as the "Bible Belt". Spanning the Southeastern United States, the area is known for politically and socially conservative views. Tulsa, the state's second largest city, home to Oral Roberts University, is considered an apex of the region and is known as one of the "buckles of the Bible Belt". According to the Pew Research Center, the majority of Oklahoma's religious adherents — 85 percent — are Christian, accounting for about 80 percent of the population. The percentage of Oklahomans affiliated with Catholicism is half of the national average, while the percentage affiliated with Evangelical Protestantism is more than twice the national average — tied with Arkansas for the largest percentage of any state.
Oklahoma religious makeup:
Oklahoma's state emblems and honorary positions are codified by state law; the Oklahoma Senate or House of Representatives may adopt resolutions designating others for special events and to benefit organizations.
Tourism and recreation
Culture and history
Maps and demographics