15 Fascinating Facts About Oklahoma

Were you aware that Oklahoma experiences an average of 62 tornadoes per year?

Oklahoma, also known as the “Sooner State,” “Land of the Red Man,” and “Native America,” became the 46th state to join the United States on November 16, 1907. As of 2019, it has a population of 3,956,971 people, making it the 28th most populous state. It is surrounded by Kansas, Colorado, Arkansas, Texas, New Mexico, and Missouri and covers a total area of 69.899 square miles (181,037 square kilometers), making it the 20th largest state.

The capital of Oklahoma is Oklahoma City, which is located in the center of the state.

But let’s move on to some of the more unique facts about the Sooner State!

Humans have inhabited Oklahoma for at least 11,000 years!

The Paleo-Indians, who were hunter-gatherers, were the first people to settle in North America around 13-11,000 BC. They crossed the Bering Strait from the far east of modern-day Russia to the westernmost tip of Alaska before spreading out across North America and settling wherever they found good hunting grounds. Evidence of their presence in Oklahoma dates back to around 11,000 years ago, and includes spear tips and campgrounds.

Many of the tribes living in Oklahoma before European contact were descendants of the region’s original inhabitants.

The region that we now know as Oklahoma has been inhabited since the Paleo-Indians arrived 11,000 years ago. Over time, they developed agriculture around 800 AD and settled in the area for longer periods. Various cultures and languages emerged over the centuries, including the Teyas, who vanished without a trace after European explorers discovered them. The Wichita and the Caddo, on the other hand, survived the European invasion of their ancestral homelands and still reside in what is now Oklahoma.

The first Europeans to arrive in Oklahoma were from Spain.

The Spanish conquistador Francisco Vázquez de Coronado and his team were the first Europeans to reach modern-day Oklahoma. In 1540, Coronado embarked on an expedition from the west coast of Mexico, where Spain had established a base, to investigate rumors of vast golden cities located far inland in the modern-day USA. While passing through Oklahoma, he made contact with several tribes, including the Teyas, but the expedition was a complete and utter failure since there were no cities of gold.

France was the first European power to claim Oklahoma.

In 1682, the famous French explorer and fur trader René-Robert Cavalier traveled down the Mississippi River from modern-day Illinois to the Gulf of Mexico.

During the age of exploration, France claimed the land around the river and all of its tributaries, naming it La Louisiane. Although the French never explored present-day Oklahoma, the region was still claimed by France and remained under their control from 1682 until 1763. Despite this, Oklahoma remained untouched as only the extremities of La Louisiane were explored and used by the French. Spain was the first European power to explore Oklahoma, but France was the first to claim it. France ultimately lost control of La Louisiane, including the Oklahoma region, to Spain in 1763 following their defeat in the French and Indian War. However, France secretly made a treaty with Spain in 1762, handing over large portions of territory, including Oklahoma, to Spain before their defeat. As a result, modern-day Oklahoma came under Spanish ownership instead of British. Eventually, the United States of America bought Oklahoma from France in 1803, gaining a massive 828,000 square miles of land that was partitioned into smaller territories. Most Native Americans were relocated by force to the Indian Territory, which was gradually reduced in size until it became the state of Oklahoma. The Oklahoma Land Rush of 1889 opened up parts of Indian Territory to settlement, with Oklahoma City being settled in just one day.

On April 22, 1889, 10,000 residents were already camping out on their land plots in Oklahoma City. The land rushes allowed settlers to claim land within modern-day Oklahoma, but there were rules to follow. Some broke the rules by camping out in the regions they wanted to claim before the allowed time, and they became known as “Sooners”. Due to their illegal settlement, Oklahoma gained the nickname “Sooner State”. Oklahoma lies in Tornado Alley, a region that experiences extreme weather due to cold winds from Canada mixing with warm and humid air from the Gulf of Mexico. This results in an average of 62 tornadoes every year. Lottie Williams from Tulsa is believed to be the only human hit by falling space junk, but fortunately, she was uninjured. The Center of the Universe in Tulsa is an acoustic marvel where standing in the middle of a small concrete circle surrounded by a larger circle of bricks amplifies and slightly distorts your voice. The word “Oklahoma” does not translate to “Red People”.

It has long been believed that the word “Oklahoma” means “Red People,” as it comes from the Choctaw words “okla” and “humma.” However, the translation is actually more complex. “Okla” refers to the Choctaw Nation itself, not people in general. “Humma” has 27 possible translations, but the most accurate would be “honorable” or “brave.” Therefore, “Oklahoma” actually means “honorable Nation,” not “Red People.”

The Capitol building in Oklahoma City has an oil well underneath it, making it a unique structure. The oil well, nicknamed “Petunia Number One,” produced 1.5 million barrels of oil in its 43 years of operation.

Oklahoma has an official state meal, which includes many calorific southern comfort foods. The meal includes barbecue pork, chicken-fried steak, sausage with biscuits and gravy, corn grits, squash, okra, corn, black-eyed peas, and cornbread. The dessert is strawberries and pecan pie. Depending on portion sizes, the meal could contain up to 2700 calories.

Despite its troubled past, Oklahoma is known as a cultural center of the US due to its high population of Native Americans. It’s important to celebrate the positive aspects of the state’s history, while also acknowledging the darker days.

FAQ

1. What is Oklahoma’s state flower?

Oklahoma’s state flower is the Indian Blanket. This flower is also known as the firewheel, and it is a wildflower that is commonly found throughout the state. The Indian Blanket is known for its red, yellow, and green petals, which resemble the colors of a traditional Native American blanket.

2. What is the tallest building in Oklahoma?

The tallest building in Oklahoma is the Devon Energy Center in Oklahoma City. This skyscraper stands at 844 feet tall and has 50 floors. The Devon Energy Center is a modern architectural masterpiece and serves as the corporate headquarters for Devon Energy Corporation.

3. What is the state bird of Oklahoma?

The state bird of Oklahoma is the Scissor-tailed Flycatcher. This bird is known for its long tail, which can be as long as 10 inches. The Scissor-tailed Flycatcher is found throughout Oklahoma and is a common sight in fields and pastures.

4. What famous country singer is from Oklahoma?

Garth Brooks is one of the most famous country singers from Oklahoma. He was born in Tulsa and began his career playing in local bars and clubs. Brooks has sold over 150 million records worldwide and has won numerous awards, including two Grammy Awards and 17 American Music Awards.

5. What is the state rock of Oklahoma?

The state rock of Oklahoma is the Rose Rock. This unique rock formation is found only in certain areas of the state, particularly around the city of Noble. The Rose Rock is made of barite crystals and has a distinctive rosette shape, hence its name.

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