oklahoma's interesting history
Some facts about the 46th State

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  Oil, cattle, immigrants and the Sooner State
Although one of the youngest states in the nation, Oklahoma is a land that reaches far back in time. Oklahoma's recorded history began in 1541 when Spanish explorer Coronado ventured through the area on his quest for the "Lost City of Gold."Coronado was a little too early because there was gold in "them thar" hills but it was black!!! Texas Tea, black gold, sweet crude.

The land that would eventually be known as Oklahoma was part of the 1803 Louisiana Purchase. Beginning in the 1820s, the Five Civilized Tribes from the southeastern United States were relocated (read = forcibly sojourned from their rightful homeland by President Andew Jackson, nice man) to Indian Territory over numerous routes, the most famous being the Cherokee "Trail of Tears." Forced off their ancestral lands by state and federal governments, the tribes suffered great hardships, i.e., many people died, during the rigorous trips west.

The survivors eventually recovered from the dislocation through hard work and communal support. Gradually, new institutions and cultural adaptations emerged and began a period of rapid developments often called the "Golden Age" of Indian Territory.

Following the destruction of the Civil War, Oklahoma became a part of the booming cattle industry, ushering in the era of the cowboy. Western expansion reached the territory in the late 1800s, sparking a controversy over the fate of the land. Treaties enacted after the Civil War by the U.S. government forced the tribes to give up their communal lands and accept individual property allotments to make way for expansion. There was talk of using Indian Territory for settlement by African Americans emancipated from slavery. However, the government relented to pressure, much of it coming from a group know as "Boomers," who wanted the rich lands opened to non-Indian settlement. The government decided to open the western parts of the territory to settlers by holding a total of six land runs between 1889 and 1895. And this is the reason the state is known as the Sooner State,people cheated and snuck across the areas which were opened to land runs, thus they were there sooner than they were supposed to so the University of Oklahoma honors cheaters, no wonder I didn't like that school...

Settlers came from across the nation and even other countries like Poland, Germany, Ireland and Slavic nations to stake their claims. And African Americans, some who were former slaves of Indians, took part in the runs or accepted their allotments as tribal members. In the years that followed, black pioneers founded and settled entire communities in or near Arcadia, Boley, Langston and Taft. On November 16, 1907, Oklahoma became the 46th state. Statehood had become a sure thing, in part due to a discovery which made Oklahoma the "place to go to strike it rich" - oil.

People came from all parts of the world to seek their fortunes in Oklahoma's booming oil fields. Cities like Tulsa, Ponca City, Bartlesville and Oklahoma City flourished. Oklahomans are filled with pride for their land of diverse cultures, hundreds of scenic lakes and rivers, and genuine warmth and friendliness. This proud Oklahoma spirit is echoed through the accomplishments of our citizens, such as humorist and "Cherokee Cowboy" Will Rogers, Olympian and Native American athlete Jim Thorpe, African-American author Ralph Ellison, astronaut Thomas Stafford, jazz musician Charlie Christian, and country music superstars Roger Miller (R.I.P.) Reba McEntire, Vince Gill and Garth Brooks.

African Americans
The history of African Americans in Oklahoma is a story unlike any to be found in the United States. African Americans initially came to this region on the "Trail of Tears," as Indian slaves. Later, they came as cowboys, settlers, gunfighters, and farmers. By statehood in 1907, they outnumbered both Indians and first and second generation Europeans. They created more all-black towns in Oklahoma than in the rest of the country put together, produced some of the country's greatest jazz musicians, and led some of the nation's greatest civil rights battles. One of the great omissions in history books was the role African-American soldiers played in the Civil War.

Blacks first fought alongside whites during the Battle of Honey Springs, an engagement fought on July 17, 1863 on a small battlefield outside present-day Muskogee. Black troops held the Union's center line in that battle, breaking the Confederate's center and giving the Union a critical win that secured both the Arkansas River and the Texas Road (the region's major transportation routes). This ensured the Union a solid foothold in Indian Territory - one it never relinquished.

A year after the Civil War ended in 1865, Congress passed a bill providing provisions for black troops, what became the 9th and 10th cavalry. The 10th went on to be headquartered at Fort Gibson; the 9th was stationed at Fort Sill. Black soldiers built Oklahoma forts, fought bandits, cattle thieves, and Mexican revolutionaries (including Pancho Villa), and policed borders during the land runs. They also played a critical role in the Indian Wars of the late 1800s, earning the respect of Native Americans who gave them the name "Buffalo Soldiers."

After the Civil War, freedmen and new African-American settlers in Oklahoma could vote, study, and move about with relativefreedom. Pamphlets distributed throughout the South urged African Americans to join land runs in Indian Territory, to create black businesses, black cities, and perhaps even the first black state. Pamphlets promising a black paradise in Oklahoma lured tens of thousands of former slaves from the South.

Eventually 27 black towns grew to encompass 10 percent of Indian Territory's population. Today many of Oklahoma's original black towns and districts are gone, but those that remain still host rodeos, Juneteenth celebrations, and community reunions.