State of Oklahoma
ORIGIN OF STATE NAME: Derived from the Choctaw Indian words okla humma, meaning "land of the red people."
NICKNAME: The Sooner State.
CAPITAL: Oklahoma City.
ENTERED UNION: 16 November 1907 (46th).
MOTTO: Labor omnia vincit (Labor conquers all things).
FLAG: On a blue field, a peace pipe and an olive branch cross an Osage warrior's shield, which is decorated with small crosses and from which seven eagle feathers descend. The word "Oklahoma" appears below.
OFFICIAL SEAL: Each point of a five-pointed star incorporates the emblem of a Native American nation: (clockwise from top) Chickasaw, Choctaw, Seminole, Creek, and Cherokee. In the center, a frontiersman and Native American shake hands before the goddess of justice; behind them are symbols of progress, including a farm, train, and mill. Surrounding the large star are 45 small ones and the words "Great Seal of the State of Oklahoma 1907."
BIRD: Scissor-tailed flycatcher.
FISH: White bass (sand bass).
LEGAL HOLIDAYS: New Year's Day, 1 January; Birthday of Martin Luther King Jr., 3rd Monday in January; Presidents' Day, 3rd Monday in February; Confederate Memorial Day, May 10; National Memorial Day, last Monday in May; Independence Day, 4 July; Labor Day, 1st Monday in September; Veterans' Day, 11 November; Thanksgiving Day, 4th Thursday in November and the following day; Christmas Day, 25 December and the day following.
TIME: 6 AM CST = noon GMT.
LOCATION, SIZE, AND EXTENT
Situated in the western south-central United States, Oklahoma ranks 18th in size among the 50 states.
The total area of Oklahoma is 69,956 sq mi (181,186 sq km), of which land takes up 68,655 sq mi (177,817 sq km) and inland water 1,301 sq mi (3,369 sq km). Oklahoma extends 464 mi (747 km) e-w including the panhandle in the nw, which is about 165 mi (266 km) long. The maximum n-s extension is 230 mi (370 km).
Oklahoma is bordered on the n by Colorado and Kansas; on the e by Missouri and Arkansas; on the s and sw by Texas (with part of the line formed by the Red River); and on the extreme w by New Mexico. The total estimated boundary length of Oklahoma is 1,581 mi (2,544 km). The state's geographic center is in Oklahoma County, 8 mi (13 km) n of Oklahoma City.
The land of Oklahoma rises gently to the west from an altitude of 289 ft (88 m) at Little River in the southeastern corner (the lowest point in the state) to a height of 4,973 ft (1,517 m) at Black Mesa, the highest elevation, on the tip of the panhandle. The mean elevation of the state is approximately 1,300 ft (397 m). Four mountain ranges cross this Great Plains state: the Boston Mountains (part of the Ozark Plateau) in the northeast, the Quachitas in the southeast, the Arbuckles in the south-central region, and the Wichitas in the southwest. Much of the northwest belongs to the High Plains, while northeastern Oklahoma is mainly a region of buttes and valleys.
Not quite two-thirds of the state is drained by the Arkansas River, and the remainder by the Red River. Within Oklahoma, the Arkansas is joined by the Verdigris, Grand (Neosho), and Illinois rivers from the north and northeast, and by the Cimarron and Canadian rivers from the northwest and west. The Red River, which marks most of the state's southern boundary, is joined by the Washita, Salt Fork, Blue, Kiamichi, and many smaller rivers. There are few natural lakes but many artificial ones, of which the largest is Lake Eufaula, covering 102,500 acres (41,500 hectares).
Oklahoma has a continental climate with cold winters and hot summers. Normal daily average temperatures in Oklahoma City range from 37°f (2°c) in January to 82°f (27°c) in July. The record low temperature of −27°f (−33°c) was set at Watts on 18 January 1930; the record high, 120°f (49°c), occurred at Tipton on 27 June 1994.
Dry, sunny weather generally prevails throughout the state. Precipitation varies from an average of 15 in (38 cm) annually in the panhandle to over 50 in (127 cm) in the southeast. Average annual precipitation in Oklahoma City is about 33.3 in (84 cm). Snowfall averages 9 in (23 cm) a year in Oklahoma City, which is also one of the windiest cities in the United States, with an average annual wind speed of 13 mph (20 km/hr).
Oklahoma is tornado-prone. One of the most destructive windstorms was the tornado that tore through Ellis, Woods, and Woodward counties on 9 April 1947, killing 101 people and injuring 782 others.
FLORA AND FAUNA
Grasses grow in abundance in Oklahoma. Bluestem, buffalo, sand lovegrass, and grama grasses are native, with the bluestem found mostly in the eastern and central regions, and buffalo grass most common in the western counties, known as the "short grass country." Deciduous hardwoods stand in eastern Oklahoma, and red and yellow cactus blossoms brighten the Black Mesa area in the northwest. The eastern prairie fringed orchid was listed as threat-ened in 2006; there were no plant species listed as endangered that year in Oklahoma.
The white-tailed deer is found in all counties, and Rio Grande wild turkeys are hunted across much of the state. Pronghorn antelope inhabit the panhandle area, and elk survive in the Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge, where a few herds of American buffalo (bison) are also preserved. The bobwhite quail, ring-necked pheasant, and prairie chicken are common game birds. Native sport fish include largemouth, smallmouth, white, and spotted bass; catfish; crappie; and sunfish.
In April 2006, the US Fish and Wildlife Service listed 18 species of animals (vertebrates and invertebrates) as threatened or endangered. These included three species of bat (Ozark big-eared, Indiana, and gray), bald eagle, whooping crane, black-capped vireo, red-cockaded woodpecker, Eskimo curlew, and Neosho madtom.
The Oklahoma Department of Environment Quality has overall responsibility for coordinating all pollution control activities by other state agencies and for developing a comprehensive water quality management program for Oklahoma. The Oklahoma Conservation Commission is responsible for conservation of renewable natural resources through land use planning, small watershed upstream flood control, reclamation of abandoned mine land, water quality monitoring and soil and water conservation, as well as environmental education and wetlands conservation. The Department of Wildlife Conservation manages wildlife resources and habitat specifically for hunters, anglers, and others who appreciate wildlife.
The Department of Health is responsible for the monitoring of air quality standards; the enforcement of regulations covering control of industrial and solid waste; the enforcement of regulations covering radioactive materials at the Kerr-McGee processing facility at Gore and elsewhere; and the maintenance of standards at all public waterworks and sewer systems. The Water Resources Board has broad statutory authority to protect the state's waters.
Toxic industrial wastes remain an environmental concern, and old mines in the Tar Creek area of northeastern Oklahoma still exude groundwater contaminated by zinc, iron, and cadmium. In 2003, 30 million lb of toxic chemicals were released in the state. Also in 2003, Oklahoma had 165 hazardous waste sites listed in the US Environment Protection Agency (EPA) database, 10 of which were on the National Priorities List as of 2006; among these were Tar Creek in Ottawa County and Tinker Air Force Base. In 2005, the EPA spent over $8.8 million through the Superfund program for the cleanup of hazardous waste sites in the state. The same year, federal EPA grants awarded to the state included $10.7 million for wastewater system improvements. A special grant of $4.96 million was awarded for the Oklahoma Plan Demonstration Project in Tar Creek, Ottawa County, which is designed to offer demonstration programs for land restoration and environmental management.
Lands devastated by erosion during the droughts of the 1930s were purchased by the federal government and turned over to the Soil Conservation Service for restoration. When grasses were firmly established in the mid-1950s, the land was turned over to the US Forest Service and is now leased for grazing. In 2003, the state had about 890,000 acres of wetlands—about 2% of the land.
Oklahoma ranked 28th in population in the United States with an estimated total of 3,547,884 in 2005, an increase of 2.8% since 2000. Between 1990 and 2000, Oklahoma's population grew from 3,145,585 to 3,450,654, an increase of 9.7%. The population is projected to reach 3.6 million by 2015 and 3.8 million by 2025. The population density in 2004 was 51.3 persons per sq mi. In 2004 the median age in Oklahoma was 36.5; 24.4% of the on under age 18 while 13.2% was age 65 or older.
The largest city is Oklahoma City, which in 2004 had an estimated 528,042 inhabitants in the city proper and an estimated population of 1,144,327 in the metropolitan statistical area. Tulsa, the second-largest city, had an estimated population of 383,764 in the city proper and a 881,815 in the metropolitan area. Norman ranked third with a population of 100,923 in 2004. The Lawton metropolitan area had a population of about 110,514.
According to the 1990 Census, Oklahoma had more American Indians—252,420—than any other state, but by 1998 its estimated American Indian population of 281,000 had been surpassed by California's (292,000), and it remained in second place in 2000, with an Indian population of 273,230, or 7.9% of the state's total population—the fourth-highest percentage ranking in the United States. Oklahoma was also home to some of the nation's largest Indian reservations, including those of the Creek, Cherokee, Chickasaw, and Choctaw Indians. By 2004, the state's American Indian population had increased to 8.1% of the total population.
Black slaves came to Oklahoma (then known as Indian Territory) with their Indian masters after Congress forced the resettlement of Indians from the southeast to lands west of the Mississippi River in 1830. By the time of the Civil War, there were 7,000 free Negroes in Oklahoma. After the depression of the 1930s, blacks left the farms and small towns and concentrated in Oklahoma City and Tulsa. In 2000, the black population of 260,968 was smaller than the American Indian population. It remained thus in 2004, when the black population accounted for 7.7% of the state's total population.
Mexicans came to Oklahoma during the 19th century as laborers on railroads and ranches, and in coal mines. Later they worked in the cotton fields until the depression of the 1930s and subsequent mechanization reduced the need for seasonal labor. Today, most first- and second-generation Mexicans live in Oklahoma City, Tulsa, and Lawton. In 2000, Oklahomans who were classified as Hispanics or Latinos numbered 179,304 and represented 5.2% of the state's total population. Of this total, 132,813 were Mexican. In 2004, 6.3% of the state's population was Hispanic or Latino.
Italians, Czechs, Germans, Poles, Britons, Irish, and others of European stock also came to Oklahoma during the 19th century. Foreign immigration has been small since that time, however, and in 2000, less than 4% of the population consisted of the foreign born (who numbered 131,747). Persons claiming at least one specific ancestry group in 2000 included English, 291,553; German, 435,245; and Irish, 354,802. In 2000, the Asian population numbered 46,767 and there were 2,372 Pacific Islanders. In 2004, 1.5% of the population was Asian, and 0.1% of the population was Pa- cific Islander. A full 4% of the population reported origin of two or more races that year.
Once the open hunting ground of the Osage, Comanche, and Apache Indians, what is now Oklahoma later welcomed the deported Cherokee and other transferred eastern tribes. The diversity of tribal and linguistic backgrounds is reflected in numerous place-names such as Oklahoma itself, Kiamichi, and Muskogee. Almost equally diverse is Oklahoma English, with its uneven blending of features of North Midland, South Midland, and Southern dialects.
In 2000, 2,977,187 Oklahomans—92.6% of the resident population five years or older—spoke only English at home, down from 95% in 1990.
The following table gives selected statistics from the 2000 Census for language spoken at home by persons five years old and over. The category "Other Native North American languages" includes Apache, Cherokee, Choctaw, Dakota, Keres, Pima, and Yupik. The category "Other Asian languages" includes Dravidian languages, Malayalam, Telugu, Tamil, and Turkish. The category "African languages" includes Amharic, Ibo, Twi, Yoruba, Bantu, Swahili, and Somali.
|Population 5 years and over||3,215,719||100.0|
|Speak only English||2,977,187||92.6|
|Speak a language other than English||238,532||7.4|
|Speak a language other than English||238,532||7.4|
|Spanish or Spanish Creole||141,060||4.4|
|Other Native North, American languages||18,817||0.6|
|French (incl. Patois, Cajun)||8,258||0.3|
|Other Asian languages||3,134||0.1|
Evangelical Protestant groups predominate in Oklahoma with adherents representing about 41.4% of the total population in 2000. This group was influential in keeping the state "dry"—that is, banning the sale of all alcoholic beverages—until 1959 and resisting legalization of public drinking until 29 counties voted to permit the sale of liquor by the drink in 1985.
The leading Protestant group in 2000 was the Southern Baptist Convention with 967,223 adherents; in 2002 there were 16,563 new baptized members. Other leading Evangelical Protestant denominations in 2000 included the Assemblies of God, 88,301 adherents; the Churches of Christ, 83,047; the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), 53,729; and the Christian Churches, 42,708. Free Will Baptists, Nazarenes, Missouri Synod Lutherans, and those of various other Pentecostal traditions are also fairly well represented. The largest Mainline Protestant denominations are the United Methodist Church, with 253,375 adherents (in 2004), and the Presbyterian Church USA, with 35,211 adherents (in 2000) In 2006, there were 38,011 members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons) in 75 congregations. In 2004, there were about 169,045 Roman Catholics in the state, of which 112,951 reside in the archdiocese of Oklahoma City. In 2000, there were 6,145 Muslims and about 5,050 Jews throughout the state. About 39.2% of the population did not claim any religious affiliation.
Oral Roberts, a popular minister, has established a college and faith-healing hospital in Tulsa, and his "Tower of Faith" broadcasts by radio and television have made him a well-known preacher throughout the United States. A Mormon temple was built in Oklahoma City in 2000. The offices of the Unitarian Universalist Christian Fellowship are in Turley.
In 1930, the high point for railroad transportation in Oklahoma, there were 6,678 mi (10,747 km) of railroad track in the state. In 2003, there were 3,853 rail mi (6,201 km) of track. As of that same year, there were three Class I railroads operating in Oklahoma: the Burlington Northern Santa Fe; the Union Pacific; and the Kansas City Southern. Together, they operated 2,536 mi (4,82 km) of right-of-way in the state as of 2003. As of 2006, Amtrak provided passenger service to five stations in Oklahoma via its Oklahoma City to Fort Worth Heartland Flyer train. Inter-urban transit needs, formerly served by streetcars (one of the most popular routes operated between Oklahoma City and Norman), are now supplied by buses.
The Department of Transportation is responsible for construction and maintenance of the state road system, which in 2004 included state roads and highways, and interstate highways. The main east-west highways are I-44, connecting Tulsa and Oklahoma City, and I-40; the major north-south route is I-35, which links Oklahoma City with Topeka, Kansas and Dallas-Ft. Worth, Texas. Overall in 2004, Oklahoma had 112,713 mi (181,467 km) of roadway. A total of some 3.156 million motor vehicles were registered in the state that same year, including 1.622 million automobiles and 1.448 million trucks of all types. There were 2,369,621 licensed drivers in 2004.
The opening of the McClellan-Kerr Arkansas River Navigation System in 1971 linked Oklahoma with the Mississippi River and thus to Gulf coast ports. Tulsa, Port of Catoosa, is the chief port on the system, handling 2.159 million tons of cargo in 2004. In 2003, waterborne shipments totaled 4.895 million tons. In 2004, Oklahoma had 150 mi (241 km) of navigable inland waterways.
In 2005, Oklahoma had a total of 439 public and private-use aviation-related facilities. This included 346 airports, 91 heliports, 1 STOLport (Short Take-Off and Landing), and 1 seaplane base. Will Rogers World Airport in Oklahoma City and Tulsa International Airport are the state's largest airports. In 2004, Will Rogers had 1,695,096 passengers enplaned, while Tulsa International had 1,462,799 enplanements.
There is evidence—chiefly from the Spiro Mound in eastern Oklahoma, excavated in 1930—that an advanced Indian civilization inhabited the region around ad 900–1100. By the time the Spanish conquistadores, led by Hernando de Soto and Francisco Vasquez de Coronado, arrived there in the 16th century, however, only a few scattered tribes remained. Two centuries later, French trappers moved up the rivers of Oklahoma.
Except for the panhandle, which remained a no-man's-land until 1890, all of present-day Oklahoma became part of US territory with the Louisiana Purchase in 1803. Under the Indian Removal Act of 1830, Indian tribes from the southeastern United States were resettled in what was then known as Indian Country. Although 4,000 Indians died along the "Trail of Tears" (from Georgia to Oklahoma) between the time of removal and the Civil War, the Five Civilized Tribes—Cherokees, Chickasaw, Choctaw, Creek, and Seminole—prospered in the new land. The eastern region that they settled, comprising not quite half of modern Oklahoma and known as Indian Territory since the early 19th century (although not formally organized under that name until 1890), offered rich soil and luxurious vegetation. White settlers also came to farm the land, but their methods depleted the soil, preparing the way for the dust bowl of the 1930s. Meanwhile, the increasing movement of people and goods between Santa Fe and New Orleans spurred further growth in the region. Military posts such as Ft. Gibson, Ft. Supply, and Ft. Towson were established between 1824 and the 1880s, with settlements growing up around them.
During the early Civil War period, the Five Civilized Tribes—some of whose members were slaveholders—allied with the Confederacy. After Union troops captured Ft. Gibson in 1863, the Union Army controlled one-half of Indian Territory. From the end of the Civil War to the 1880s, the federal government removed the eastern tribes from certain lands that were especially attractive to the railroads and to interested white settlers. Skirmishes between the Indians and the federal troops occurred, culminating in a massacre of Cheyenne Indians on 27 November 1868 by Colonel George Custer and his 7th Cavalry at the Battle of the Washita.
Amid a clamor for Indian lands, Congress opened western Oklahoma—formerly reserved for the Cherokee, Cheyenne, Fox, and other tribes—to homesteaders in 1889. Present-day Oklahoma City, Norman, Guthrie, Edmond, and Stillwater represent the eastern boundary for the 1889 "run" on Oklahoma lands; eight more runs were to follow. The greatest was in 1893, when about 100,000 people stormed onto the newly opened Cherokee outlet. The drive to get a land claim was fierce, and thousands of "Sooners" staked their claims before the land was officially opened. The western region became Oklahoma Territory, governed by a territorial legislature and a federally appointed governor in 1890; Guthrie was named the capital. Most of eastern Oklahoma continued to be governed by the Five Civilized Tribes.
Although an Oklahoma statehood bill was introduced in Congress as early as 1892, the Five Civilized Tribes resisted all efforts to unite Indian Territory until their attempt to form their own state was defeated in 1905. Congress passed an enabling act in June 1906, and Oklahoma became the 46th state on 16 November 1907 after a vote of the residents of both territories. Oklahoma City was named the state capital in 1910.
When President Theodore Roosevelt signed the statehood proclamation, Oklahoma's population was about 1,500,000—75% rural, 25% urban—most of them drawn by the state's agricultural and mineral resources. The McAlester coal mines had opened in 1871, and lead and zinc were being mined in Ottawa County. But it was oil that made the state prosperous. Prospecting began in 1882, and the first commercial well was drilled at Bartlesville in 1897. The famous Glenn Pool gusher, near Tulsa, was struck in 1905. Oil wells were producing more than 40 million barrels annually when Oklahoma entered the Union, and the state led all others in oil production until 1928.
Generally, the decade of the 1920s was a tumultuous period for Oklahoma. A race riot in Tulsa in 1921 was put down by the National Guard. (In February 2001, a state commission recommended that the surviving victims be compensated for what has been called the nation's most violent instance of racial oppression. The recommendation launched an intense debate over whether today's taxpayers should have to pay restitution for yesterday's crimes.) Also in 1921, the Ku Klux Klan claimed close to 100,000 Oklahomans. The Klan was outlawed when Governor John C. Walton declared martial law in 1923, during a period of turmoil and violence that culminated in Walton's impeachment and conviction on charges of incompetence, corruption, and abuse of power. The 1930s brought a destructive drought, dust storms, and an exodus of "Okies," many of them to California. Colorful Governor William "Alfalfa Bill" Murray led the call for federal relief for the distressed dust bowl region—though he insisted on his right to administer the funds. When Oklahoma oil fields were glutting the market at 15 cents a barrel, Murray placed 3,106 producing wells under martial law from August 1931 to April 1933. Kansas, New Mexico, and Texas also agreed to control their oil production and under the leadership of Governor E. W. Marland, the Interstate Oil Compact was created in 1936 to conserve petroleum and stabilize prices.
Oklahoma's first native-born governor, Robert Kerr (later a senator for 14 years) held the statehouse during World War II and brought the state national recognition by promoting Oklahoma as a site for military, industrial, and conservation projects. Under early postwar governors Roy Turner, Johnston Murray, and Raymond Gary, tax reductions attracted industry, major highways were built, a loyalty oath for state employees was declared unconstitutional, and Oklahoma's higher educational facilities were integrated. The term of Governor Howard Edmondson saw the repeal of prohibition in 1959, the establishment of merit and central purchasing systems, and the introduction of a state income tax withholding plan.
Oil and gas again brought increased wealth to the state in the 1960s, 1970s, and early 1980s, as state revenues from oil and gas increased from $72 million in 1972 to $745 million in 1982. Nearly $1 billion was spent for new highways, schools, and state offices; new police were hired; and teacher salaries were raised to nationally competitive levels. Unemployment fell to 3.6% in 1981 while an influx of job seekers from other states made Oklahoma one of the fastest-growing states in the nation in the early 1980s.
In 1983, as oil prices fell in the face of a growing worldwide oil glut, the oil boom suddenly ended. Between 1982 and 1986, jobs in the extraction of oil and gas dropped by 50%. The failure of 24 banks, home mortgage foreclosures, and mounting distress among the state's farmers added to Oklahoma's financial woes. Falling state revenues and a balanced budget requirement in the state constitution compelled Governor George Nigh in 1983 to cut appropriations and to preside over a series of tax increases that lost for Oklahoma its claim to one of the lowest tax burdens in the nation.
The oil bust did not entirely devastate the Oklahoma economy. Those industries with a national rather than a regional base, such as distribution, transportation, food processing, and light man- ufacturing, continued to prosper, and the state's leaders made a concerted effort to diversify Oklahoma's industries even further by attracting both private enterprise and defense contracts. By the end of the decade, the economy had begun to recover, and recovery continued into the 1990s. By 1999 the unemployment rate had dropped to 3.4%, below the national average. Poverty was on the decline in the state: 15.6% of Oklahomans lived below the federal poverty level in 1990; in 1998 the rate dipped to 14.1%. But with the tenth-lowest median income in the nation, the state's income levels lagged behind, causing some analysts to predict that Oklahoma might have problems competing in a strong economy.
On 19 April 1995, the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City was destroyed in a bomb blast that claimed 168 lives and constituted the most serious act of terrorism in the history of the United States until the events of 11 September 2001. Governor Frank Keating was commended for his strong leadership during the crisis. A memorial to the victims was unveiled in April 2000, the five-year anniversary of the tragedy. Timothy McVeigh was executed in 2001 for his part in the Oklahoma bombing.
In 2003 Oklahoma faced its largest budget deficit in state history ($600 million). Democratic Governor Brad Henry pledged to eliminate taxes on retirement income for senior citizens, provide access to affordable prescription drugs, retain jobs in the state, improve Oklahoma schools, and increase teachers' salaries. Henry proposed a state lottery to fund education; voters overwhelmingly passed the lottery in November 2004. He secured a state vote to fund healthcare initiatives through an increase in the tobacco tax. Henry promoted tort reform, Medicaid screening for breast and cervical cancer, voluntary relocation assistance for the troubled Tar Creek region, and expansion of pre-school programs. He secured a workers' compensation reform package that business groups applauded, worked on funding for road and bridge repair, created a successful anti-methamphetamine program, and ensured that assistance went to Oklahoma National Guard members and their families. The projected 2005 fiscal year budget gap in Oklahoma was $5.3 billion.
Oklahoma's first and only constitution became effective on 16 November 1907. By January 2005, that document had been amended 171 times (including five amendments that were subsequently nullified by the courts).
The Oklahoma legislature consists of two chambers, a 48-member Senate and a 101-member House of Representatives. To serve in the legislature one must be a qualified voter, US citizen, and district resident; also, senators must be at least 25 years old and representatives at least 21. Senators hold office for four years, representatives for two. The legislature meets annually, beginning on the first Monday in February; the regular session ends on the last Friday in May. Special sessions may be called by a vote of two-thirds of the members of each house. The legislative salary in 2004 was $38,400, unchanged from 1999.
State elected officials are the governor, lieutenant governor, attorney general, auditor, state treasurer, superintendent of public instruction, commissioner of labor, and commissioner of insurance, all of whom serve four-year terms, and three corporation commissioners, who serve staggered six-year terms. The governor is limited to serving two consecutive terms. A candidate for governor must be at least 31 years old and a qualified voter in Oklahoma. As of December 2004, the governor's salary was $110,298.
Any member of either house may introduce legislation. A bill passed by the legislature becomes law if signed by the governor, if left unsigned by the governor for five days while the legislature is in session, or if passed over the governor's veto by two-thirds of the elected members of each house (three-fourths in the case of emergency bills). A bill dies after 15 days if the governor takes no action and the legislature has adjourned. Constitutional amendments may be placed on the ballot by majority vote in both houses, by initiative petition of 15% of the electorate, or by constitutional convention. To be ratified, proposed amendments must receive a majority vote of the electorate.
To vote in Oklahoma, one must be a US citizen, at least 18 years old, and a state resident. Restrictions apply to convicted felons and those declared mentally incapacitated by the court.
The history of the two major political groups in Oklahoma, the Democratic and Republican parties, dates back to 1890, when Indian Territory and Oklahoma Territory were separately organized. Indian Territory was dominated by Democrats, reflecting the influence of southern immigrants, while Oklahoma Territory was primarily Republican because of immigration from the northern states. When the two territories joined for admission to the Union in 1907, Democrats outnumbered Republicans, as they have ever since. Democrats have continued to dominate the lesser state offices, but the Republicans won the governorship three times between 1962 and 1990, and the Republican presidential nominee out-polled his Democratic counterpart in ten of twelve presidential elections between 1948 and 1992. The best showing by a minor party in a recent presidential race was 25% garnered by Independent Ross Perot in 1992.
Oklahomans cast 60% of their popular vote for Republican George W. Bush in the 2000 presidential election, and 38% for Al Gore. In 2004, 65.6% of the vote went for the incumbent President Bush, with 32.4% to the challenger, Democrat John Kerry. In 2004 there were 2,143,000 registered voters. In 1998, 57% of registered
|Oklahoma Presidential Vote by Political Parties 1948–2004|
|YEAR||ELECTORAL VOTE||OKLAHOMA WINNER||DEMOCRAT||REPUBLICAN|
|*Won US presidential election.|
|**IND. candidate Ross Perot received 319,878 votes in 1992 and 130,788 votes in 1996.|
|2000***||8||*Bush, G. W. (R)||474,276||744,337|
|2004||7||*Bush, G. W. (R)||503,966||950,792|
voters were Democratic, 35% Republican, and 8% unaffiliated or members of other parties. The state had seven electoral votes in the 2000 presidential election, a loss of one vote over 2000.
Democrat Brad Henry was elected governor in 2002. Republican senator James Inhofe, first elected in a special election in 1994, was reelected to full terms in 1996 and 2002. Republican senator Don Nickles, first elected in 1980, was reelected in 1998 to a fourth term; in 2004, Republican Tom Coburn won a seat in the US Senate. In 2004, Oklahoma sent four Republicans and one Democrat to the US House of Representatives. In 2005, there were 26 Democrats and 20 Republicans in the state House, and 44 Democrats and 57 Republicans in the state Senate.
As of 2005, local governmental units in Oklahoma included 77 counties, 590 municipal governments, 544 public school districts and 560 special districts.
County government consists of three commissioners elected by districts, a county clerk, assessor, treasurer, sheriff, surveyor, and (in most counties) superintendent of schools. Towns of 1,000 residents or more may incorporate as cities. Any city of 2,000 or more people may vote to become a home-rule city, determining its own form of government, by adopting a home-rule charter. Cities electing not to adopt a home-rule charter operate under alder-manic, mayor-council, or council-manager systems. A large majority of home-rule cities have council-manager systems.
In 2005, local government accounted for about 140,324 full-time (or equivalent) employment positions.
To address the continuing threat of terrorism and to work with the federal Department of Homeland Security, homeland security in Oklahoma operates under state statute and executive order; the homeland security director is designated as the state homeland security advisor.
The Oklahoma Department of Education, functioning under a six-member appointed Board of Education and an elected superintendent of public instruction, has responsibility for all phases of education through the first 12 grades. Postsecondary study is under the general authority of the Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education and other separate boards of regents associated with one or more institutions. Vocational and technical education, a federal-state cooperative program, is administered in Oklahoma under the Department of Career and Technology Education. The Department of Transportation has authority over the planning, construction, and maintenance of the state highway system. The Oklahoma Corporation Commission regulates transportation and transmission companies, public utilities, motor carriers, and the oil and gas industry, while the Oklahoma Aeronautics Commission participates in financing airports.
The Department of Health has as a major function the control and prevention of communicable diseases; it administers community health program funds and licenses most health-related facilities. The Department of Human Services oversees the care of neglected children, delinquent youths, and the developmentally disabled and operates various facilities and programs for the handicapped, the elderly, and the infirm.
Protective services are supplied through the Oklahoma Military Department, which administers the Army and Air National Guard; the Department of Corrections, overseeing the state penitentiary and reformatory, adult correctional centers, and community treatment centers; and the Department of Public Safety, with general safety and law enforcement responsibilities, among which are licensing drivers and patrolling the highways. Natural resource protection services are centered principally in the Oklahoma Conservation Commission. The Department of Wildlife Conservation administers the game and fish laws.
In 1967, following some of the worst judicial scandals in the history of the state, in which one supreme court justice was imprisoned for income tax evasion and another impeached on charges of bribery and corruption, Oklahoma approved a constitutional amendment to reform the state's judicial system. Under the new provisions, the Supreme Court, the state's highest court, consists of nine justices initially elected to six-year terms, but with additional terms pursuant to nonpartisan, noncompetitive elections. If a justice is rejected by the voters, the vacancy is filled by gubernatorial appointment, subject to confirmation by the electorate. The court's appellate jurisdiction includes all civil cases (except those which it assigns to the courts of appeals), while its original jurisdiction extends to general supervisory control over all lesser courts and agencies created by law.
The highest appellate court for criminal cases is the Court of Criminal Appeals, a five-member body filled in the same manner as the Supreme Court. Courts of Civil Appeals, created by the legislature in 1968, are located in Tulsa and Oklahoma City. Each has six elective judges with powers to hear civil cases assigned to them by the Supreme Court. When final, their decisions are not appealable to any other state court, a system unique to Oklahoma.
District courts have original jurisdiction over all judicial matters and some review powers over administrative actions. There are 26 districts with 131 district judges who are elected to four-year terms. Municipal courts hear cases arising from local ordinances.
As of 31 December 2004, a total of 23,319 prisoners were held in Oklahoma's state and federal prisons, an increase from 22,821 of 2.2% from the previous year. As of year-end 2004, a total of 2,361 inmates were female, up from 2,320 or 1.8% from the year before. Among sentenced prisoners (one year or more), Oklahoma had an incarceration rate of 649 per 100,000 population in 2004.
According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Oklahoma in 2004, had a violent crime rate (murder/nonnegligent manslaughter; forcible rape; robbery; aggravated assault) of 500.5 reported incidents per 100,000 population, or a total of 17,635 reported incidents. Crimes against property (burglary; larceny/theft; and motor vehicle theft) in that same year totaled 149,472 reported incidents or 4,242.1 reported incidents per 100,000 people. Oklahoma has a death penalty, of which lethal injection is the sole method of execution. However, should lethal injection be declared unconstitutional, electrocution would be authorized, and if electrocution was found to be unconstitutional, the law authorizes the use of a firing squad. From 1976 through 5 May 2006, the state has carried out 80 executions, of which four were carried out in 2005 and one in 2006 (as of 5 May). As of 1 January 2006, Oklahoma had 91 inmates on death row.
In 2003, Oklahoma spent $75,847,874 on homeland security, an average of $22 per state resident.
In 2004, there were 23,476 active-duty military personnel and 21,860 civilian personnel stationed in Oklahoma, the majority of whom were at Ft. Sill, near Lawton, the training facility for the Artillery Branch. A total of nearly $1.5 billion in prime military contracts was received by local businesses in 2004. Defense Department payroll outlays were $2.97 billion.
In 2003, 355,312 veterans were living in Oklahoma, of whom 45,491 saw service in World War II; 36,837 in the Korean conflict; 113,616 during the Vietnam era; and 59,264 during the Gulf War. In 2004, the Veterans Administration expended more than $1.2 billion in pensions, medical assistance, and other major veterans' benefits.
As of 31 October 2004, the Oklahoma Department of Public Safety employed 808 full-time sworn officers.
Early immigrants to what is now Oklahoma included explorers, adventurers, and traders who made the country conscious of the new territory, and Indian tribes forcibly removed from the East and Midwest. The interior plains of Oklahoma remained basically unchanged until white settlers came in the late 1880s.
Coal mining brought miners from Italy to the McAlester and Krebs area in the 1870s, and Poles migrated to Bartlesville to work in the lead and zinc smelters. British and Irish coal miners came to Indian Territory because they could earn higher wages there than in their native countries, and Czechs and Slovaks arrived from Nebraska, Kansas, Iowa, and Texas when railroad construction began. Mexicans also worked as railroad laborers, ranch hands, and coal miners before statehood. The oil boom of the early 20th century brought an influx of workers from the eastern and Midwestern industrial regions. In 1907, the population of Oklahoma was 75% rural and 25% urban; by 1990, however, 67.7% of all inhabitants resided in urban areas. Oklahoma lost population during the 1930s because of dust bowl and drought conditions, and the trend toward out-migration continued after World War II; from 1940 through 1960, the net loss from migration was 653,000. Migration patterns were reversed, however, after 1960. From 1960 to 1970 nearly 21,000 more people moved into the state than out of it. In the period 1970–80, a total of 293,500 more people came than left, the migration accounting for nearly two-thirds of Oklahoma's total increase of 466,000 persons in that decade. From 1980 to 1983, Oklahoma ranked fourth among the states with a total net gain from migration of 186,000 people. From 1985 to 1990, a net migration loss of about 95,500 was reported. Between 1990 and 1998, the state had net gains of 48,000 in domestic migration and 26,000 in international migration. In 1998, 2,273 foreign immigrants arrived in Oklahoma. The state's overall population increased 6.4% between 1990 and 1998. In the period 2000–05, net international migration was 36,546 and net internal migration was −15,418, for a net gain of 21,128 people.
Oklahoma participates in a number of regional intergovernmental agreements, among them the Arkansas River Compact, Arkansas River Basin Compact, Canadian River Compact, Interstate Oil and Gas Compact, Red River Compact, South Central Interstate Forest Fire Protection Compact, Southern Growth Policies Board, Southern States Energy Board, Southern Regional Education Board, Interstate Mining Compact Commission, and the Central Interstate Low-Level Radioactive Waste Compact. Federal grants in fiscal year 2005 totaled $4.047 billion, an estimated $4.197 billion in fiscal year 2006, and an estimated $4.424 billion in fiscal year 2007.
Primarily an agricultural state through the first half of the 20th century, Oklahoma has assumed a broader economic structure since the 1950s. Manufacturing heads the list of growth sectors, followed by wholesale and retail trade, services, finance, insurance, and real estate. Oil and gas extraction continues to play a major role. The oil industry boomed from the mid-1970s through the mid-1980s. In 1985, however, the boom ended. Prices dropped from $27 a barrel to $13 a barrel within a month in 1985. In 1998, gas and oil production was valued at only $3.4 billion; one-third of what it was worth in the mid-1980s. Oklahoma's unemployment rate, which averaged about 3% in the early 1980s, jumped to 9% in 1983, and then fell to 7% in 1985, and rose again, to 8%, in 1986. Since then, the economy has undergone a slow but steady recovery. Unemployment was at 3.4% in 1999. Gains in manufacturing made up for the losses in mining. Manufacturing output, however, peaked in 1999, and by 2001 had fallen 9.2%. The state's overall growth rate, which accelerated from 3.5% in 1998 to 3.9% in 1999 to 6.5% in 2000, fell back to 3.2% in the national recession and slowdown of 2001. The main growth sectors in terms of output coming into the 21st century (1997 to 2001) were general services (up 26.8%), government (up 24.2%), financial services (up 2.5%) and trade (up 21.3%). Oklahoma's military installations, Fort Sill and Tinder Air Force Base, are two of the state's top five employers and with rising defense spending, and oil and gas prices, the state's economy is seen as heading upward.
In 2004, Oklahoma's gross state product (GSP) was $107.600 billion, of which manufacturing (durable and nondurable goods) accounted for the largest share at $11.981 billion or 11.1% of GSP, followed by the real estate sector at $10.494 billion (9.7% of GSP), and healthcare and social assistance services at $7.518 billion (6.9% of GSP). In that same year, there were an estimated 303,135 small businesses in Oklahoma. Of the 77,027 businesses that had employees, an estimated total of 75,058 or 97.4% were small companies. An estimated 9,263 new businesses were established in the state in 2004, up 5.2% from the year before. Business terminations that same year came to 8,018, down 4.9% from 2003. There were 659 business bankruptcies in 2004, up 7.7% from the previous year. In 2005, the state's personal bankruptcy (Chapter 7 and Chapter 13) filing rate was 761 filings per 100,000 people, ranking Oklahoma as the 10th highest in the nation.
In 2005 Oklahoma had a gross state product (GSP) of $121 billion which accounted for 1.0% of the nation's gross domestic product and placed the state at number 29 in highest GSP among the 50 states and the District of Columbia.
According to the Bureau of Economic Analysis, in 2004 Oklahoma had a per capita personal income (PCPI) of $27,840. This ranked 40th in the United States and was 84% of the national average of $33,050. The 1994–2004 average annual growth rate of PCPI was 4.2%. Oklahoma had a total personal income (TPI) of $98,095,384,000, which ranked 29th in the United States and reflected an increase of 5.4% from 2003. The 1994–2004 average annual growth rate of TPI was 5.0%. Earnings of persons employed in Oklahoma increased from $68,758,304,000 in 2003 to $73,134,429,000 in 2004, an increase of 6.4%. The 2003–04 national change was 6.3%.
The US Census Bureau reports that the three-year average median household income for 2002 to 2004 in 2004 dollars was $38,281 compared to a national average of $44,473. During the same period an estimated 12.6% of the population was below the poverty line as compared to 12.4% nationwide.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), in April 2006 the seasonally adjusted civilian labor force in Oklahoma numbered 1,757,900, with approximately 69,000 workers unemployed, yielding an unemployment rate of 3.9%, compared to the national average of 4.7% for the same period. Preliminary data for the same period placed nonfarm employment at 1,537,100. Since the beginning of the BLS data series in 1976, the highest unemployment rate recorded in Oklahoma was 9.4% in August 1986. The historical low was 2.7% in January 2001. Preliminary nonfarm employment data by occupation for April 2006 showed that approximately 4.4% of the labor force was employed in construction; 18.3% in trade, transportation, and public utilities; 5.5% in financial activities; 11.3% in professional and business services; 12.1% in education and health services; 8.7% in leisure and hospitality services; and 20.5% in government. Data was unavailable for manufacturing.
The US Department of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that in 2005, a total of 77,000 of Oklahoma's 1,432,000 employed wage and salary workers were formal members of a union. This represented 5.4% of those so employed, down from 6.1% in 2004, well below the national average of 12%. Overall in 2005, a total of 91,000 workers (6.4%) in Oklahoma were covered by a union or employee association contract, which includes those workers who reported no union affiliation. Oklahoma is one of 22 states with a right-to-work law.
As of 1 March 2006, Oklahoma had a two-tiered state-mandated minimum wage rate. Employers with annual sales of more than $100,000 came under the $5.15 per hour rate, while all others came under a $2.00 per hour rate. In 2004, women in the state accounted for 46.3% of the employed civilian labor force.
Agriculture remains an important economic activity in Oklahoma, even though its relative share of personal income and employment has declined since 1950. Total farm income, estimated at $5.04 billion, ranked 18th in the United States in 2005. Crop marketings contributed $1.03 billion; livestock, $4.01 billion.
As of 2004, Oklahoma had 83,500 farms and ranches covering 33,700,000 acres (13,640,000 hectares). The state ranked fifth in the United States for wheat production in 2004, with 164,500,000 bushels worth $542.8 million. Peanut production ranked seventh in 2004, with 102,300,000 lb, valued at $19,232,000. Other 2004 crop figures include sorghum for grain, 14,400,000 bushels, $25,402,000; soybeans, 8,700,000 bushels, $43,500,000; corn for grain, 30,000,000 bushels, $75,000,000; and oats, 555,000 bushels, $944,000.
Virtually all of Oklahoma's wheat production is located in the western half of the state; cotton (310,000 bales in 2004) is grown in the southwest corner. Sorghum-producing regions include the panhandle, central to southwestern Oklahoma, and the northeast corner of the state.
In 2005, there were 5.4 million cattle and calves, worth $4.4 billion. During 2004, Oklahoma farmers had 2.4 million hogs and pigs, valued at $194.4 million. In 2003, the state produced around 4 million lb (1.8 million kg) of sheep and lambs which brought in nearly $3.8 million in gross income. Also during 2003, poultry farmers produced 1.11 billion lb (0.5 billion kg) of broilers valued at $379.1 million, and 933 million eggs valued at $72 million. Oklahoma's 82,000 dairy cows produced an estimated 1.31 billion lb (0.59 billion kg) of milk in 2003.
Commercial fishing is of minor importance in Oklahoma. The prolific white bass (sand bass), Oklahoma's state fish, is abundant in most large reservoirs. Smallmouth and spotted bass, bluegill, and channel catfish have won favor with fishermen. Rainbow trout are stocked year round in the Illinois River, and walleye and sauger are stocked in most reservoirs. The Tishomingo National Fish Hatchery produces primarily smallmouth bass for distribution to federal wildlife areas in Oklahoma and Texas. In 2004, the state issued 668,924 sport fishing licenses.
While Oklahoma is not generally known as a forested state, a significant amount of forest is found there. Oklahoma's forests cover approximately 7,665,000 acres (3,102,000 hectares) or nearly 17% of the state's land area. Approximately 65% of this is commercially productive forestland. These forests are about 95% privately owned. They are intensively utilized for lumber, plywood, paper, fuelwood, and other products. They also provide high quality drinking water for the state's two largest cities, excellent wildlife habitat, substantial protection against soil erosion, and numerous recreational opportunities.
Oklahoma's forests play a vital role in the economy in the eastern half of the state. Much of the timber harvested in Oklahoma is shipped to processing plants in western Arkansas. Nearly two million acres of the loblolly-shortleaf pine and shortleaf pine-oak forests support several major wood processing plants in the southeastern corner of the state. Hardwood processing is scattered over the entire forested area in smaller sawmills. In the late 1980s and early 1990s, Oklahoma's eastern red cedar forests and woodlands supported a surge in processing plants.
In 2004 lumber output from Oklahoma's forests totaled 355 million board ft, 97% softwood.
According to preliminary data from the US Geological Survey (USGS), the estimated value of nonfuel mineral production by Oklahoma in 2003 was $479 million, an increase from 2002 of about 1%. The USGS data ranked Oklahoma as 28th among the 50 states by the total value of its nonfuel mineral production, accounting for over 1% of total US output.
According to the preliminary data for 2003, crushed stone was the leading nonfuel mineral produced by Oklahoma, accounting for over 40% of all nonfuel mineral output, by value. It was followed by cement (portland and masonry), construction sand and gravel, industrial sand and gravel, iodine, and gypsum, by value. By volume, Oklahoma in 2003, was the nation's leading producer of gypsum and ranked second in tripoli output. It ranked fifth in feldspar, seventh in common clays, and eighth in industrial sand and gravel. Oklahoma was the only state to produce iodine.
Preliminary data for 2003 showed that a total of 45.8 million metric tons of crushed stone were produced, with a value of $202 million, while construction sand and gravel output came to 9.8 million metric tons, with a value of $39.7 million. Industrial sand and gravel production that same year totaled 1.32 million metric tons, and had a value of $28.4 million. Crude iodine output totaled 1,750 metric tons and was valued at $19.7 million. Crude gypsum production in 2003 stood at 2.41 million metric tons, with a value of $18.7 million.
According to the Oklahoma Department of Mines in 2003, the state had 233 mine operators and 307 operating mines. A total of 26,702 people were directly employed by the state's mining industry, excluding those employed by helium and iodine mine operators.
ENERGY AND POWER
As of 2003, Oklahoma had 98 electrical power service providers, of which 62 were publicly owned and 30 were cooperatives. Of the remainder, four were investor owned, one was federally operated and one was the owner of an independent generator that sold directly to customers. As of that same year there were 1,805,442 retail customers. Of that total, 1,179,570 received their power from investor-owned service providers. Cooperatives accounted for 436,446 customers, while publicly owned providers had 189,346 customers. There was one federal customers and 79 were independent generator or "facility" customers.
Total net summer generating capability by the state's electrical generating plants in 2003 stood at 18.239 million kW, with total production that same year at 60.626 billion kWh. Of the total amount generated, 82.1% came from electric utilities, with the remainder coming from independent producers and combined heat and power service providers. The largest portion of all electric power generated, 36.676 billion kWh (60.5%), came from coal-fired plants, with natural gas fueled plants in second place at 21.822 billion kWh (36%) and hydroelectric facilities in third at 1.798 billion kWh (3%). Other renewable power sources, pumped storage facilities, petroleum fired plants and plants using other types of gases accounted for the remainder.
Oklahoma is rich in fossil fuel resources, producing oil, natural gas, and coal. Crude oil production declined from 223.6 million barrels in 1968, to 150.5 million barrels in 1978, to 70.6 million barrels in 1999. As of 2004, Oklahoma had proven crude oil reserves of 570 million barrels, or 3% of all proven US reserves, while output that same year averaged 171,000 barrels per day. Including federal off shore domains, the state that year ranked seventh (sixth excluding federal offshore) in both proven reserves and production among the 31 producing states. In 2004 Oklahoma had 83,750 producing oil wells and accounted for 3% of all US production. As of 2005, the state's five refineries had a combined crude oil distillation capacity of 484,961 barrels per day.
In 2004, Oklahoma had 35,612 producing natural gas and gas condensate wells. In that same year, marketed gas production (all gas produced excluding gas used for repressuring, vented and flared, and nonhydrocarbon gases removed) totaled 1,663.148 billion cu ft (47.23 billion cu m). As of 31 December 2004, proven reserves of dry or consumer-grade natural gas totaled 16,238 billion cu ft (461.15 billion cu m).
Oklahoma in 2004, had eight producing coal mines, seven of which were surface operations. Coal production that year totaled 1,792,000 short tons, up from 1,565,000 short tons in 2003. Of the total produced in 2004, the surface mines accounted for 1,383,000 short tons. Recoverable coal reserves in 2004 totaled 17 million short tons. One short ton equals 2,000 lb (0.907 metric tons).
Oklahoma's earliest manufactures were based on agricultural and petroleum production. As late as 1939, the food-processing and petroleum-refining industries together accounted for one-third of the total value added by manufacture. Although resource-related industries continue to predominate, manufacturing has become much more diversified.
According to the US Census Bureau's Annual Survey of Manufactures (ASM) for 2004, Oklahoma's manufacturing sector covered some 17 product subsectors. The shipment value of all products manufactured in the state that same year was $45.710 billion. Of that total, petroleum and coal products manufacturing accounted for the largest share at $8.904 billion. It was followed by transportation equipment manufacturing at $7.902 billion; machinery manufacturing at $5.378 billion; food manufacturing at $5.035 billion; and fabricated metal product manufacturing at $3.891 billion.
In 2004, a total of 132,540 people in Oklahoma were employed in the state's manufacturing sector, according to the ASM. Of that total, 98,281 were actual production workers. In terms of total employment, the fabricated metal product manufacturing industry accounted for the largest portion of all manufacturing employees at 22,319, with 16,497 actual production workers. It was followed by machinery manufacturing at 20,438 employees (12,935 actual production workers); transportation equipment manufacturing at 17,071 employees (13,166 actual production workers); food manufacturing at 14,277 employees (10,905 actual production workers); and plastics and rubber products manufacturing with 12,104 employees (9,765 actual production workers).
ASM data for 2004 showed that Oklahoma's manufacturing sector paid $5.241 billion in wages. Of that amount, the machinery manufacturing sector accounted for the largest share at $900.746 million. It was followed by fabricated metal product manufacturing at $799.199 million; transport equipment manufacturing at $714.183 million; plastics and rubber products manufacturing at $528.999 million; and food manufacturing at $480.609 million.
According to the 2002 Census of Wholesale Trade, Oklahoma's wholesale trade sector had sales that year totaling $30.7 billion from 4,770 establishments. Wholesalers of durable goods accounted for 2,993 establishments, followed by nondurable goods wholesalers at 1,489 and electronic markets, agents, and brokers accounting for 288 establishments. Sales by durable goods wholesalers in 2002 totaled $11.1 billion, while wholesalers of nondurable goods saw sales of $15.9 billion. Electronic markets, agents, and brokers in the wholesale trade industry had sales of $3.6 billion.
In the 2002 Census of Retail Trade, Oklahoma was listed as having 13,922 retail establishments with sales of $32.1 billion. The leading types of retail businesses by number of establishments were: gasoline stations (2,020); motor vehicle and motor vehicle parts dealers (1,830); miscellaneous store retailers (1,652); and food and beverage stores (1,558). In terms of sales, motor vehicle and motor vehicle parts dealers accounted for the largest share of retail sales at $9.4 billion, followed by general merchandise stores at $6.2 billion; gasoline stations at $3.7 billion; and food and beverage stores at $3.3 billion. A total of 167,949 people were employed by the retail sector in Oklahoma that year.
Exporters located in Oklahoma exported $4.3 billion in merchandise during 2005. Major exports included industrial machinery and transportation equipment.
Consumer protection issues in Oklahoma are generally the responsibility of the Consumer Protection Division of the Attorney General's Office. Among the Division's duties are the resolution of complaints against businesses, the provision of information on those complaints and of publications to consumers to help educate the public and the enforcement of the state's laws regarding unfair and deceptive practices. However, consumer protection issues involving "Supervised Lenders," such as finance companies, and non-lender extenders of credit is the responsibility of the Commission on Consumer Credit, which also maintains a program of consumer education and has the power to require lawful and businesslike procedures by lending agencies under the state's Uniform Credit Code.
When dealing with consumer protection issues, the state's Attorney General's Office can initiate civil and criminal proceedings; represent the state before state and federal regulatory agencies; administer consumer protection and education programs; handle formal consumer complaints; and exercise broad subpoena powers. In antitrust actions, the Attorney General's Office can act on behalf of those consumers who are incapable of acting on their own; initiate damage actions on behalf of the state in state courts; initiate criminal proceedings; and represent counties, cities and other governmental entities in recovering civil damages under state or federal law.
The offices of the Commission on Consumer Credit and of the Consumer Protection Division are located in Oklahoma City.
As of June 2005, Oklahoma had 274 insured banks, savings and loans, and saving banks, plus 26 state-chartered and 60 federally chartered credit unions (CUs). Excluding the CUs, the Oklahoma City market area accounted for the largest portion of the state's financial institutions and deposits in 2004, with 70 institutions and $15.734 billion in deposits, followed by the Tulsa market area with 68 institutions and $13.276 billion. As of June 2005, CUs accounted for 9.7% of all assets held by all financial institutions in the state, or some $6.412 billion. Banks, savings and loans, and savings banks collectively accounted for the remaining 90.3% or $59.840 billion in assets held.
The State Banking Department has the responsibility for supervising all state-chartered banks, savings and loan associations, credit unions, and trust companies.
The median percentage of past-due/non accrual loans to total loans stood at 1.98% as of fourth quarter 2005, down from 2004's rate of 2.17% and 2003's level of 2.37%, mark an ongoing improvement in the state's lending environment. In 2004, the median net internal margin (the difference between the lower rates offered savers and the higher rates charged on loans) for the state's insured institutions stood at 4.49%, up from 4.45% in 2003, but down from the 4.54% rate as of fourth quarter 2005.
As of 2003, there were 54 property and casualty and 29 life and health insurance companies domiciled in the state. In 2004, direct premiums for property and casualty insurance totaled over $4.8 billion. That year, there were 13,843 flood insurance policies in force in the state, with a total value of $1.5 billion.
In 2004, there were over 1.6 million individual life insurance policies in force, with a total value of about $111 billion; total value for all categories of life insurance (individual, group, and credit) was over $174 billion. The average coverage amount is $67,700 per policy holder. Death benefits paid that year totaled $604 million.
In 2004, 48% of state residents held employment-based health insurance policies, 4% held individual policies, and 25% were covered under Medicare and Medicaid; 20% of residents were uninsured. Oklahoma has the third-highest percentage of uninsured residents among the fifty states (following Texas and New Mexico). In 2003, employee contributions for employment-based health coverage averaged at 19% for single coverage and 28% for family coverage. The state offers a 30-day health benefits expansion program for small-firm employees (in some cases) in connection with the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA, 1986), a health insurance program for those who lose employment-based coverage due to termination or reduction of work hours.
In 2003, there were over 2.4 million auto insurance policies in effect for private passenger cars. Required minimum coverage includes bodily injury liability of up to $25,000 per individual and $50,000 for all persons injured in an accident, as well as property damage liability of $25,000. In 2003, the average expenditure per vehicle for insurance coverage was $688.64.
There are no stock or commodity exchanges in Oklahoma. In 2005, there were 560 personal financial advisers employed in the state and 1,320 securities, commodities, and financial services sales agents. In 2004, there were over 75 publicly traded companies within the state, with over 20 NASDAQ companies, 15 NYSE listings, and 5 AMEX listings. In 2006, the state had six Fortune 500 companies; ONEOK ranked first in the state and 176th in the nation with revenues of over $12.8 billion, followed by Williams (energy), Devon Energy, Kerr-McGee, OGE Energy, and Chesa-
|Oklahoma—State Government Finances|
|(Dollar amounts in thousands. Per capita amounts in dollars.)|
|Abbreviations and symbols:—zero or rounds to zero; (NA) not available; (X) not applicable.|
|source: U.S. Census Bureau, Governments Division, 2004 Survey of State Government Finances, January 2006.|
|Individual income tax||2,319,123||658.09|
|Corporate income tax||133,309||37.83|
|Miscellaneous general revenue||1,021,654||289.91|
|Liquor store revenue||-||-|
|Insurance trust revenue||3,466,933||983.81|
|Insurance benefits and repayments||1,531,825||434.68|
|Assistance and subsidies||204,201||57.95|
|Interest on debt||357,096||101.33|
|Exhibit: Salaries and wages||2,183,778||619.69|
|General expenditures, by function:|
|Parks and recreation||77,230||21.92|
|Interest on general debt||286,610||81.33|
|Other and unallocable||504,137||143.06|
|Liquor store expenditure||-||-|
|Insurance trust expenditure||1,531,825||434.68|
|Debt at end of fiscal year||6,930,071||1,966.54|
|Cash and security holdings||28,273,456||8,023.11|
peake Energy. Devon Energy is listed on AMEX; the other listed companies are on the NYSE.
The Oklahoma budget is prepared by the director of state finance and submitted by the governor to the legislature each February. Article 10, section 23 of the Oklahoma Constitution requires a balanced budget. The constitution establishes a "Rainy Day" Fund into which general revenue fund revenues in excess of the certified estimate are deposited for emergency appropriation at a later date. All funds are "appropriated" pursuant to the constitution. In addition, state law authorizes a cash-flow reserve fund that can be up to 10% of the approved budget. The fiscal year (FY) is 1 July through 30 June.
2006 general funds were estimated at $5.6 billion for resources and $5.5 billion for expenditures. In fiscal year 2004, federal government grants to Oklahoma were $5.2 billion.
In the fiscal year 2007 federal budget, Oklahoma was slated to receive:$70.8 million in State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) funds to help the state provide health coverage to low-income, uninsured children who do not qualify for Medicaid. This funding is a 23% increase over fiscal year 2006; and $21.7 million for the HOME Investment Partnership Program to help Oklahoma fund a wide range of activities that build, buy, or rehabilitate affordable housing for rent or homeownership, or provide direct rental assistance to low-income people. This funding is a 12% increase over fiscal year 2006.
In 2005, Oklahoma collected $6,859 million in tax revenues or $1,933 per capita, which placed it 34th among the 50 states in per capita tax burden. The national average was $2,192 per capita. Sales taxes accounted for 24.2% of the total; selective sales taxes, 12.2%; individual income taxes, 36.0%; corporate income taxes, 2.5%; and other taxes, 25.1%.
As of 1 January 2006, Oklahoma had eight individual income tax brackets ranging from 0.5% to 6.25%. The state taxes corporations at a flat rate of 6.0%.
In 2004, local property taxes amounted to $1,637,457,000 or $465 per capita. The per capita amount ranks the state 47th highest nationally. Oklahoma does not collect property taxes at the state level.
Oklahoma taxes retail sales at a rate of 4.50%. In addition to the state tax, local taxes on retail sales can reach as much as 6%, making for a potential total tax on retail sales of 10.50%. Food purchased for consumption off-premises is taxable. The tax on cigarettes is 103 cents per pack, which ranks 18th among the 50 states and the District of Columbia. Oklahoma taxes gasoline at 17 cents per gallon. This is in addition to the 18.4 cents per gallon federal tax on gasoline.
According to the Tax Foundation, for every federal tax dollar sent to Washington in 2004, Oklahoma citizens received $1.48 in federal spending.
Pro-business measures in Oklahoma include comparatively low property tax rates, limits on annual increases in property tax rates, and requirements that tax increases be submitted to a vote of the people or pass the legislature with a 75% vote.
Business incentives include wage rebates of up to 5% for 10 years for qualifying basic firms that add at least $2.5 million of new payroll in the state over a three-year period. This incentive, known as the Oklahoma Quality Jobs Program, was adopted in 1993. Since that time, more than 130 firms have received in excess of $35 million in incentive payments while adding more than 26,000 jobs to the Oklahoma economy. More than 55,000 jobs were planned to be added as of 2005.
Other incentives include a job tax credit of $1,000 per year for five years for new manufacturing jobs in state enterprise zones; a 30% investment tax credit for investment in qualifying agricultural processing ventures or cooperatives; and free customized training for qualifying firms from the Oklahoma Department of Vocational and Technical Education through its Training in Industry Program (TIP). The state has placed emphasis on the Oklahoma Main Street Program, a statewide downtown revitalization program providing training, resources, and technical assistance to 36 targeted Main Street communities. The Oklahoma Main Street Program was first created in late 1985. By 2006, there were 44 communities in the Main Street program.
The infant mortality rate in October 2005 was estimated at 8.2 per 1,000 live births. The birth rate in 2003 was 14.4 per 1,000 population. The abortion rate stood at 10.1 per 1,000 women in 2000. In 2003, about 77.8% of pregnant woman received prenatal care beginning in the first trimester. In 2004, approximately 72% of children received routine immunizations before the age of three.
The crude death rate in 2003 was 10.2 deaths per 1,000 population. As of 2002, the death rates for major causes of death (per 100,000 resident population) were: heart disease, 321.4; cancer, 213.9; cerebrovascular diseases, 69.5; chronic lower respiratory diseases, 56.9; and diabetes, 30.5. Oklahoma had the second-highest heart disease death rate in the country (following West Virginia). The mortality rate from HIV infection was 2.6 per 100,000 population. In 2004, the reported AIDS case rate was at about 5.5 per 100,000 population. In 2002, about 56.2% of the population was considered overweight or obese. As of 2004, about 26% of state residents were smokers, representing the fourth-highest percentage in the country.
In 2003, Oklahoma had 108 community hospitals with about 11,000 beds. There were about 450,000 patient admissions that year and 5.5 million outpatient visits. The average daily inpatient census was about 6,500 patients. The average cost per day for hospital care was $1,777. Also in 2003, there were about 370 certified nursing facilities in the state with 32,733 beds and an overall occupancy rate of about 66.2%. In 2004, it was estimated that about 61.3% of all state residents had received some type of dental care within the year. Oklahoma had 205 physicians per 100,000 resident population in 2004 and 695 nurses per 100,000 in 2005. In 2004, there were a total of 1,728 dentists in the state.
About 19% of state residents were enrolled in Medicaid programs in 2003; 15% were enrolled in Medicare programs in 2004. Approximately 20% of the state population was uninsured in 2004, ranking the state as third in the nation for highest percentage of uninsured residents (following Texas and New Mexico). In 2003, state health care expenditures totaled $3.4 million.
In 2004, about 60,000 people received unemployment benefits, with the average weekly unemployment benefit at $219. For 2005, the estimated average monthly participation in the food stamp program included about 424,402 persons (172,837 households); the average monthly benefit was about $86.32 per person. That year, the total of benefits paid through the state for the food stamp program was about $439.5 million.
Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), the system of federal welfare assistance that officially replaced Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC) in 1997, was reauthorized through the Deficit Reduction Act of 2005. TANF is funded through federal block grants that are divided among the states based on an equation involving the number of recipients in each state. In 2004, the state TANF program had 34,000 recipients; state and federal expenditures on this TANF program totaled $174 million in fiscal year 2003.
In December 2004, Social Security benefits were paid to 623,160 Oklahoma residents. This number included 381,090 retired workers, 68,000 widows and widowers, 84,630 disabled workers, 36,180 spouses, and 53,260 children. Social Security beneficiaries represented 17.7% of the total state population and 93.1% of the state's population age 65 and older. Retired workers received an average monthly payment of $916; widows and widowers, $869; disabled workers, $880; and spouses, $449. Payments for children of retired workers averaged $477 per month; children of deceased workers, $589; and children of disabled workers, $257. Federal Supplemental Security Income payments in December 2004 went to 77,100 Oklahoma residents, averaging $382 a month. An additional $3.2 million of state-administered supplemental payments were distributed to 76,939 residents.
Indian tepees and settlers' sod houses dotted the Oklahoma plains when the "eighty-niners" swarmed into the territory; old neighborhoods in cities and towns of Oklahoma still retain some of the modest frame houses they built. Oklahomans continue to prefer single-family dwellings, despite a recent trend toward condominiums. Modern underground homes and solar-heated dwellings can be seen in the university towns of Norman and Stillwater.
In 2004, there were an estimated 1,572,756 housing units, of which 1,360,032 were occupied; 68.2% were owner-occupied. About 72.5% of all units were single-family, detached homes. Utility gas and electricity were the most common energy sources for heating. It was estimated that 85,609 units lacked telephone service, 2,351 lacked complete plumbing facilities, and 7,496 lacked complete kitchen facilities. The average household had 2.51 members.
In 2004, 17,100 new privately owned units were authorized for construction. The median home value was $85,060. The median monthly cost for mortgage owners was $871. Renters paid a median of $525 per month. In September 2005, the state received grants of $300,000 from the US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) for rural housing and economic development programs. For 2006, HUD allocated to the state over $17.2 million in community development block grants.
In 2004, 85.2% of Oklahomans 25 years of age or older were high school graduates; during the same year, 22.9% had obtained a bachelor's degree or higher.
The total enrollment for fall 2002 in Oklahoma's public schools stood at 625,000. Of these, 449,000 attended schools from kindergarten through grade eight, and 176,000 attended high school. Approximately 61.5% of the students were white, 10.9% were black, 7.6% were Hispanic, 1.5% were Asian/Pacific Islander, and 18.5% were American Indian/Alaskan Native. Total enrollment was estimated at 615,000 in fall 2003 and expected to be 626,000 by fall 2014, an increase of 0.3% during the period 2002–14. Expenditures for public education in 2003/04 were estimated at $4.4 billion or $6,176 per student the fourth-lowest among the 50 states. There were 27,603 students enrolled in 168 private schools in fall 2003. Since 1969, the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) has tested public school students nationwide. The resulting report, The Nation's Report Card, stated that in 2005, eighth graders in Oklahoma scored 271 out of 500 in mathematics, compared with the national average of 278.
As of fall 2002, there were 198,423 students enrolled in college or graduate school; minority students comprised 23.8% of total postsecondary enrollment. In 2005 year Oklahoma had 53 degree-granting institutions including 15 public four-year schools, 14 public two-year schools, and 17 nonprofit, private four-year schools. The comprehensive institutions, the University of Oklahoma (Norman) and Oklahoma State University (Stillwater), also offer major graduate-level programs. Well-known institutions include Oral Roberts University and the University of Tulsa.
The Oklahoma Arts Council was founded in 1965. In 2005, the State Arts Council of Oklahoma and other Oklahoma arts organizations received 12 grants totaling $828,700 from the National Endowment for the Arts. The State Arts Council of Oklahoma also received funding from the state and private sources. Among the organizations that typically benefit from federal funding are the Metropolitan Library Commission of Oklahoma Country, the Red Earth Native American Cultural Festival, and the Theater of North Tulsa. The Oklahoma Humanities Council (OHC) was founded in 1971. In 2005, the National Endowment for the Humanities contributed $760,924 for 12 state programs.
Major arts centers are located in Tulsa and Oklahoma City, but there are many arts and crafts museums throughout the state. Oklahoma City's leading cultural institution is the Oklahoma City Philharmonic, formed in 1924. The Tulsa Philharmonic, Tulsa Ballet Theater, and Tulsa Opera all appear at the Tulsa Performing Arts Center, a municipally owned and operated facility. As of 2005, this six-level center consisted of the 2,365-seat Chapman Music Hall, the 437-seat John H. Williams Theater, and two multilevel experimental theaters (the Liddy Doenges Theater and Charles E. Norman Theater).
There are five other ballet companies located in Oklahoma City, Bartlesville, Clinton, Lawton, and Norman. The intermingling of Native American, American West, and Euro-American art traditions infuses all aspects of Oklahoma culture. Native American contributions to the arts include achievements in art and sculpture, as well as the international acclaim accorded to ballerinas Maria and Marjorie Tallchief, Rosella Hightower, and Moscelyne Larkin.
The Oklahoma City Museum of Art was noted for serving over 130,000 visitors annually as of 2005. The museum's permanent collection covers five centuries, emphasizing the 19th and 20th centuries.
Bartlesville is home to a symphony orchestra, a show choir, a civic ballet, and a theater guild. It is also the host of the annual OK Mozart International Festival, established in 1985, which features the Solisti New York Orchestra and attracts world-class guest artists. In 2006, the festival celebrated its 22nd season and Mozart's 250th birthday.
LIBRARIES AND MUSEUMS
In June 2001, Oklahoma had 115 public library systems, with a total of 210 libraries, of which 95 were branches. In that same year, the public library system had 6,316,000 volumes of books and serial publications on its shelves, and a total circulation of 15,354,000. The system also had 174,000 audio and 151,000 video items, 6,000 electronic format items (CD-ROMs, magnetic tapes, and disks), and five bookmobiles. The Five Civilized Tribes Museum Library in Muskogee has a large collection of Indian documents and art, while the Cherokee archives are held at the Cherokee National Historical Society in Tahlequah. The Morris Swett Library at Ft. Sill has a special collection on military history, particularly field artillery. The Oklahoma Department of Libraries in Oklahoma City has holdings covering law, library science, Oklahoma history, and other fields. Large academic libraries include those of the University of Oklahoma (Norman), with 3,642,653 volumes and 10,496 periodical subscriptions in 1998, and Oklahoma State University Library (Stillwater), with 2,025,168. In fiscal year 2001, operating income for the state's public library system totaled $63,440,000 and included $313,000 in federal grants and $1,792,000 in state grants.
Oklahoma has 113 museums and historic sites. The Philbrook Art Center in Tulsa houses important collections of Indian, Renaissance, and Oriental art. Also in Tulsa are the Thomas Gil-crease Institute of American History and Art. Major museums in Norman are the University of Oklahoma's Museum of Art and the Stovall Museum of Science and Industry. The Oklahoma Art Center, National Cowboy Hall of Fame and Western Heritage Center, Oklahoma Heritage Association, Oklahoma Historical Society Museum, Oklahoma Museum of Art, State Museum of Oklahoma, and the Omniplex Science Museum are major attractions in Oklahoma City. Other museums of special interest include the Museum of the Great Plains in Lawton, the Will Rogers Memorial in Claremore, Cherokee National Museum in Tahlequah, and the Woolaroc Museum in Bartlesville.
The Butterfield Stage and Overland Mail delivered the mail to Millerton on 18 September 1858 as part of the first US transcontinental postal route. After the Civil War, the early railroads delivered mail and parcels to the Oklahoma and Indian territories.
In 2004, 91.0% of Oklahoma's occupied housing units had telephones. Additionally, by June of that same year there were 1,724,505 mobile wireless telephone subscribers. In 2003, 55.4% of Oklahoma households had a computer and 48.4% had Internet access. By June 2005, there were 449,631 high-speed lines in Oklahoma, 409,046 residential and 40,585 for business. In 2005, Oklahoma had 25 major AM and 64 major FM radio stations, and 19 major television channels. Oklahoma City had 600,240 television households, 63% of which received cable in 1999. A total of 44,743 Internet domain names were registered in the state in 2000.
In 2005, Oklahoma had 13 morning dailies, 29 evening dailies, and 34 Sunday newspapers. In 2004, the Oklahoman ranked 50th in the United States according to circulation among the top 100 daily newspapers, and the Tulsa World ranking 82nd.
Leading dailies and their approximate circulation in 2005 were as follows:
|Oklahoma City||Oklahoman (m,S)||250,496||288,948|
|Tulsa||Tulsa World (m,S)||158,965||198,477|
As of 2005 there were 143 newspapers that appeared weekly or up to three times a week; most had circulations of less than 10,000 copies.
Tulsa and Oklahoma City each have monthly city-interest publications and the University of Oklahoma has a highly active university press.
In 2006, there were over 2,810 nonprofit organizations registered within the state, of which about 2,000 were registered as charitable, educational, or religious organizations. Among the organizations headquartered in Oklahoma are the Football Writers Association of America, the International Professional Rodeo Association, the National Judges Association, the National Pigeon Association and the American Racing Pigeon Union, the Amateur Softball Association of America, the International Softball Federation, the American Association of Petroleum Geologists, the Gas Processors Association, and the US Jaycees.
Organizations focusing on the arts include the American Choral Directors Association and Sweet Adelines International. Historical and cultural organizations include the Cherokee National Historical Society, the Institute of the Great Plains, and the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum. Organizations dedicated to the rights and welfare of Native Americans include the American Indian Institute, American Indian Research and Development, and the Institute for the Development of Indian Law.
TOURISM, TRAVEL, AND RECREATION
Tourism has become a growing sector of Oklahoma's economy. Domestic travelers spent $3.9 billion on overnight and day trips in 2002, a 5.2% increase over 1999. The travel industry employed over 69,200 people in the same year. Oklahoma and Tulsa received the most visitors.
Oklahoma's 50 state parks and recreational areas draw some 16 million visitors annually. The national park service maintains one facility in Oklahoma-Chickasaw National Recreation Area, centering on artificial Lake Arbuckle.
The state also maintains and operates the American Indian Hall of Fame, in Anadarko; Black Kettle Museum, in Cheyenne; the T. B. Ferguson Home in Watonga; the Murrell Home, south of Tahlequah; the Pawnee Bill Museum, in Pawnee; the Pioneer Woman Statue and Museum, in Ponca City; the Chisholm Trail Museum, in Kingfisher; and the Western Trails Museum, in Clinton.
National wildlife refuges include Optima, Salt Plains, Sequoyah, Tishomingo, Washita, and Wichita Mountains; they have a combined area of 140,696 acres (56,938 hectares). The Great Salt Plains National Park extends over 14 counties. Fort Sill, in Lawton, is the army's principal artillery school. Oklahoma is also the winter quarters for many traveling circuses. Many Indian tribes were forcibly relocated to Oklahoma on a march which became known as the Trail of Tears. There are 39 tribes still located in Oklahoma.
Oklahoma has no major professional sports teams. The Triple-A baseball Red Hawks play in Oklahoma City, and the Tulsa Drillers play in the Double-A Texas League. Collegiate sports, however, is the primary source of pride for Oklahomans. As of 2003, the University of Oklahoma Sooners had won seven national football titles. They won the Orange Bowl in 1954, 1956, 1958, 1959, 1968, 1976, 1979, 1980, 1981, 1986, 1987, and 2001. They have also produced championships in wrestling, baseball, softball, and gymnastics. Recently, the Sooners have had a resurgence in basketball. The Oklahoma State University Cowboys have captured National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) and Big Eight titles in basketball, baseball, and golf, and are a perennial national contender in wrestling.
Oklahoma City hosts the rodeo at the Oklahoma state fair every September and October. In golf, Tulsa has been the site of several US Open tournaments. The Softball Hall of Fame is in Oklahoma City.
Jim Thorpe, possibly the greatest athlete of all time, was born in Oklahoma, as were baseball greats Mickey Mantle and Johnny Bench.
Carl Albert (1908–2000), a McAlester native, has held the highest public position of any Oklahoman. Elected to the US House of Representatives in 1947, he became majority leader in 1962 and served as speaker of the House from 1971 until his retirement in 1976. Patrick Jay Hurley (1883–1963), the first Oklahoman appointed to a cabinet post, was secretary of war under Herbert Hoover and later ambassador to China.
William "Alfalfa Bill" Murray (b.Texas, 1869–1956) was president of the state constitutional convention and served as governor from 1931 to 1935. Robert S. Kerr (1896–1963), founder of Kerr-McGee Oil, was the state's first native-born governor, serving from 1943 to 1947; elected to the US Senate in 1948, he became an influential Democratic leader. A(lmer) S(tillwell) Mike Monroney (1902–80) served as US representative from 1939 to 1951 and senator from 1951 to 1969.
Oklahomans have been prominent in literature and the arts. Journalist and historian Marquis James (b.Missouri, 1891–1955) won a Pulitzer Prize in 1930 for his biography of Sam Houston and another in 1938 for Andrew Jackson; John Berryman (1914–72) won the 1965 Pulitzer Prize in poetry for 77 Dream Songs, 1964; and Ralph Ellison (1914–94) won the 1953 National Book Award for his novel Invisible Man. The popular musical Oklahoma! by Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II is based on Green Grow the Lilacs by Oklahoman Lynn Riggs (1899–1954). N(avarre) Scott Momaday (b.1934), born in Lawton, received a Pulitzer Prize in 1969 for House Made of Dawn. Woodrow Crumbo (1912–89) and Allen Houser (1914–94) are prominent Indian artists born in the state.
Just about the best-known Oklahoman was William Penn Adair "Will" Rogers (1879–1935), the beloved humorist and writer who spread cheer in the dreary days of the Depression. Part Cherokee, Rogers was a horse rider, trick roper, and stage and movie star until he was killed in a plane crash in Alaska. Among his gifts to the American language are the oft-quoted expressions "I never met a man I didn't like" and "All I know is what I read in the newspapers." Other prominent performing artists include singer-songwriter Woody Guthrie (1912–67), composer of "This Land Is Your Land," among other classics; ballerina Maria Tallchief (b.1925); popular singer Patti Page (b.1927); and operatic soprano Roberta Knie (b.1938). Famous Oklahoma actors include (Francis) Van Heflin (1910–71), Ben Johnson (1918–96), Jennifer Jones (b.1919), Tony Randall (1920–2004), James Garner (James Baumgardner, b.1928), and Cleavon Little (1939–92). Paul Harvey (b.1918) is a widely syndicated radio commentator. James Francis "Jim" Thorpe (1888–1953) became known as the "world's greatest athlete" after his pentathlon and decathlon performances at the 1912 Olympic Games; of Indian ancestry, Thorpe also starred in baseball, football, and other sports. Bud Wilkinson (b.Minnesota, 1916–94) coached the University of Oklahoma football team to a record 47-game unbeaten streak in the 1950s. Baseball stars Paul Warner (1903–65) and his brother Lloyd (1906–82), Mickey Mantle (1931–95), Wilver Dornel "Willie" Stargell (1941–2001), and Johnny Bench (b.1947) are native Oklahomans.
Brophy, Alfred L. Reconstructing the Dreamland: The Tulsa Riot of 1921: Race, Reparations, and Reconciliation. New York: Oxford University Press, 2002.
Council of State Governments. The Book of the States, 2006 Edition. Lexington, Ky.: Council of State Governments, 2006.
Hamill, James F. Going Indian. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2006.
Harris, LaDonna. LaDonna Harris: A Comanche Life. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2000.
Mobil Travel Guide. Great Plains 2006: Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska, Oklahoma. Lincolnwood, Ill.: ExxonMobil Travel Publications, 2006.
Preston, Thomas. Great Plains: North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma, and Texas. Vol. 4 in The Double Eagle Guide to 1,000 Great Western Recreation Destinations. Billings, Mont.: Discovery Publications, 2003.
Rees, Amanda (ed.). The Great Plains Region. Vol. 1 in The Greenwood Encyclopedia of American Regional Cultures. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 2004.
Stein, Howard F., and Robert F. Hill (eds.). The Culture of Oklahoma. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1993.
Sullivan, Lynn M. Adventure Guide to Oklahoma. Edison, N.J.: Hunter Publishing, 1999.
US Department of Commerce, Economics and Statistics Administration, US Census Bureau. Oklahoma, 2000. Summary Social, Economic, and Housing Characteristics: 2000 Census of Population and Housing. Washington, D.C.: US Government Printing Office, 2003.
COPYRIGHT 2007 Cengage Learning
OKLAHOMA. Few states can boast a motto more appropriate to its history than that of Oklahoma: Labor Omnia Vincit (Labor Conquers All Things). Situated in the southern midsection of the United States, the land has provided the environment for development by diverse inhabitants since before its discovery by Europeans in the sixteenth century. A diagonal line drawn across the panshaped state from northeast to southwest highlights the difference in geographic regions. The rolling hills of the south and east contain the Ouachita, Arbuckle, Wichita, and Kiamichi Mountains, with forests, substantial rainfall, and diversified agriculture. The drier prairie and plains of the higher elevations in the north and west support wheat production and livestock. Mammoth bones and Clovis culture spearheads uncovered near Anadarko, Oklahoma, predate the more sophisticated artifacts left in ceremonial burial sites by the Mound Builders, who established communities near Spiro, Oklahoma, in the thirteenth century. By the time of European contact, Caddo, Osage, Kiowa, Apache, and Comanche groups traversed the area.
The explorations of Francisco Vásquez de Coronado and Hernando De Soto in 1541 established a Spanish claim to the vast expanse of Louisiana Territory, including what would become Oklahoma. France challenged Spain's control of the region based on the Mississippi River explorations of René-Robert Cavelier, Sieur de La Salle, in 1682. The territory changed hands between these two colonial powers until the United States purchased it from
France in 1803. American exploration began almost immediately. Lieutenant James B. Wilkinson secured an alliance for the U.S. government with the Osage Indians and in 1805 to 1806 reported on the navigability of the Arkansas River through northeastern Oklahoma. The government trader George C. Sibley provided the first written description of the northwestern part of the state available to the American public, and promoted interest in the Oklahoma salt plains during his survey of the Santa Fe Trail in 1825 to 1826. The naturalist Thomas Nuttall and Major Stephen H. Long both reported unfavorably on the fertility of the region in similar journeys through the area in 1819 to 1820. Long's official army report labeled the Great Plains as a "Great American Desert," but provided a more comprehensive report of plant and animal life and a more accurate map than any available before. It also delineated the more productive lands in eastern Oklahoma.
From 1817 until 1842, the Cherokee, Choctaw, Chickasaw, Seminole, and Creek Indians of the southeastern states faced increasing pressure by federal and state governments to voluntarily exchange their homelands for new tracts in Indian Territory encompassing all of present-day Oklahoma. Violence erupted both within the Indian groups over the issue of land cessions and between the Indians and white intruders. The Cherokee elite, led by Chief John Ross, with the aid of the missionary Samuel Austin Worcester fought removal through the U.S. court system. These actions resulted in two Supreme Court cases with decisions written by Chief Justice John Marshall: The Cherokee Nation v. Georgia (1831) and Worcester v. Georgia (1832). The latter case upheld the rights of the Cherokee Nation against the state of Georgia. The Indian Removal Act of 1830, however, gave President Andrew Jackson the authority to forcefully move the remaining Indian groups westward. The experiences of the Indians as they were marched overland horrified onlookers. Exposure, starvation, exhaustion, and disease caused a death toll estimated at one-fourth of their populations. For the Cherokees, these hardships became known as the "Trail of Tears."
Upon arrival in Indian Territory, the Five Tribes recreated themselves into autonomous nations. This period before 1860 has been called the "golden age" in Indian Territory. They formed governments patterned after the U.S. model with executive, legislative, and judicial branches. The Choctaws maintained their law enforcement unit, the Lighthorsemen. The Indians established public school systems for their children and invited American missionaries to build mission stations on their lands. The Cherokee, Choctaw, and Chickasaw nations operated male and female higher education institutions for their youth after 1845 that rivaled educational academies in most states at that time. The Cherokee Sequoyah developed an eighty-six-letter syllabary of the Cherokee language, which allowed the rapid achievement of literacy for the nation and enabled the publication of their newspaper, The Cherokee Phoenix, in English and Cherokee. Holding their national land domains in common, Indians built successful stock farms, small service businesses, and cotton plantations. Some, like Robert Love and Joseph Vann, attained considerable wealth. Before removal, many of the Indian–white intermarried elite had adopted the cultural lifestyles of planters in the southern states. They owned slaves, who worked their lands in a variety of labor relationships. These slaves accompanied their Indian masters on the removal journey to Indian Territory and helped to rebuild the comfortable homes and farms of the elite. Prior to the Civil War (1861–1865), approximately10,000 slaves resided among the Indian people.
The Civil War
The Civil War created the same divisions over slavery and sectional loyalties in Indian Territory as in the adjoining states. The Confederacy sent Commissioner Albert Pike to secure treaties of alliance with the governments of all of the Five Nations in 1861. The Choctaws, Chickasaws, and Cherokees immediately formed mounted rifle regiments. Factions favoring neutrality joined the Creek Chief Opothleyaholo as he led a retreat into Kansas under attack from Confederate Indian forces. The Confederate Cherokee Colonel Stand Watie led his regiment to victory at the Battle of Pea Ridge in Arkansas in 1862. The most significant battle in Indian Territory took place in 1863 when Union troops, loyal Indians, and African American soldiers defeated the Confederate Indian forces at Honey Springs. This allowed the Union to control Fort Gibson and the Texas Road into Indian Territory. Stand Watie continued an effective guerilla campaign against Union supply lines in Indian Territory for the remainder of the war. Promoted to Brigadier General, Watie was the last Confederate general to surrender in 1865.
The Civil War battles, destruction of property, lawless pillaging, and foraging for supplies devastated Indian Territory. More than 10,000 died from wounds, exposure, and disease. Indian and black refugees in Kansas and Texas returned to find their homes, schools, and churches vandalized or destroyed. Fields were burned, fences were torn down, and thousands of livestock were stolen. The Indian governments were in disarray, and the federal government now held them accountable for their alliance with the Confederacy. Reconstruction treaties with each of the Five Nations in 1865 to 1866 exacted a high price that would eventually lead to the dissolution of Indian Territory. The government ordered the Indian nations to abolish slavery and to incorporate the Indian freedmen into their respective nations as citizens. The agreements also included acceptance of sizable land reductions, a railroad right-of-way through Indian Territory, and a future unified government for Indian Territory. The Choctaw leader Allen Wright suggested the Choctaw word Oklahoma, meaning "the land of the red people," for the name of the new territory.
The federal government used the large tracts of land in the western half of the territory taken from the Five Nations to create reservations for a variety of Plains Indian groups. Approximately 30,000 Plains Indians were militarily disarmed, stripped of their leaders and horse herds, and forcefully confined to lands designated for them. African American military units, the Ninth and Tenth Cavalries, commanded by Benjamin Grierson, earned the respect of the Plains Indians, who gave them the name "Buffalo Soldiers." These units built Fort Sill (Lawton, Oklahoma) and policed the boundaries of the Indian lands. Conditions on the reservations deteriorated when Congress decreased appropriations and failed to honor treaty obligations made to the Plains people. Out of desperation, raiding parties left the reservation lands. Frequent skirmishes, known as the Red River War, between the military and the Indians occurred in 1874 to 1875. The most violent encounter actually occurred some years before, in 1868 near Washita in western Oklahoma. There, General George A. Custer led an attack that resulted in the deaths of the peaceful Cheyenne Chief Black Kettle, a village of approximately one hundred men, women, and children, and several hundred ponies. The Apache leader Geronimo surrendered in 1886 and remained a prisoner of war at Fort Sill until his death. One by one, the Plains Indian groups settled on their lands. By statehood, Oklahoma had become the home of sixty-seven different Indian groups.
The Reconstruction treaty alterations in the sovereignty status of the Five Nations opened the territory for exploitation. The demand for beef on Indian reservations and in eastern cities led Texas ranchers to drive herds of cattle along the East and the West Shawnee Trails and the Chisholm Trail (near present Interstate Highway 35) through Indian Territory to Kansas railheads. African Americans fleeing the South joined white citizens illegally invading the territory to take advantage of the rich farmlands. Coal deposits in the Choctaw lands created a demand for workers with mining experience. White inter-married businessmen, such as J. J. McAlester, recruited immigrants from European countries in order to develop the mineral assets. The Missouri, Kansas and Texas, Friscoe, Rock Island, and Santa Fe Railroads hired construction crews to build lines that crisscrossed the territory connecting small communities. After the turn of the century, the discovery of substantial oil deposits created instant boomtowns. Large-scale producers, such as the Glen Pool wells, increased Indian Territory production between 1904 and 1907 from one million to approximately forty-five million barrels a year. This economic development acquainted thousands of non-Indians with the potential value of these Indian lands.
Not all immigrants to Indian Territory were lawabiding citizens. The closest district court administered law enforcement for Indian Territory from Fort Smith, Arkansas, through Judge Isaac C. Parker, known as the "Hanging Judge." The territory became a haven for drifters, con men, whiskey peddlers, and hardened criminals such as the Doolin Gang, the Daltons, Jesse James, the Younger clan, Ned Christie, and the most famous female outlaw, Belle Starr. The large area of land, rough terrain, and Indian–white confrontations made maintaining order and tracking criminals more difficult for the marshals, including Bill Tilghman, Heck Thomas, and the African American Bass Reeves, who served more than thirty years in Indian Territory.
Changes in Oklahoma
Interest group pressure increased in the 1870s through the 1880s for the opening of sizable tracts of land in Indian Territory that had not been specifically assigned to Indian groups. Charles C. Carpenter, David Payne, and William L. Couch led expeditions of homesteaders called "boomers" into the Indian lands to establish colonies, defy government regulations, and open the lands to white settlement. Congress attached the Springer Amendment to the Indian Appropriations Bill in 1889 providing for the opening of the Unassigned Lands. President Benjamin Harrison issued a proclamation that declared the lands available for settlement on 22 April 1889. On that date, approximately 50,000 people participated in the land run to secure quarter sections. Some home seekers sneaked onto the lands illegally prior to the opening and became known as "Sooners." The 1887 Dawes Act (or General Allotment Act) provided for the abolition of tribal governments, the survey of Indian lands, and the division of reservation land into 160-acre homesteads. Between 1891 and 1895, there were four more land runs for additional areas that were added to Oklahoma Territory, which had been created on 2 May 1890. Land run disputes proved so difficult that the last western lands were added by lottery and sealed auction bids. The area controlled by the Five Nations was originally exempt, and for seventeen years the twin territories, Oklahoma Territory and Indian Territory, existed side by side. But the Curtis Act of 1898 ended the independence of the Five Nations, and in spite of rigorous opposition, they, too, were forced to enroll for allotments.
Economic development and increased population led to demands for statehood. The combined population of the twin territories around 1900 approached 750,000. African American promoters, among them E. P. McCabe, recruited black migrants from the South to establish all-black communities, such as Boley, Langston, and Clearview, where freedom from race discrimination and economic uplift could be enjoyed. Approximately twenty-seven such all-black towns developed in the twin territories, leading to the speculation that Oklahoma might be made into a state exclusively for African Americans. The Indian population in Indian Territory, now outnumbered four to one by whites, hoped for the creation of two states, while the white population lobbied for a combination of the territories into a single state. Between 1889 and 1906, Congress entertained thirty-one bills for either single or joint statehood. Congress rejected an Indian state to be called Sequoyah in 1905, and President Theodore Roosevelt signed the Oklahoma Enabling Act creating one state in 1906. A constitutional convention dominated by delegates from the Democratic Party met in Guthrie in 1906 to 1907 to complete a constitution. A coalition of reformers and business and agricultural interests led by William Murray, Pete Hanraty, Charles Haskell, and Kate Barnard produced a 250,000-word document that included major Progressive Era protective measures. On 16 November 1907, Roosevelt signed the proclamation bringing Oklahoma into the union as the forty-sixth state. Oklahoma comprises seventy-seven counties with a land area of 68,667 square miles. The capitol at Guthrie was relocated to Oklahoma City after a vote of the electorate in 1910.
As the territorial days waned, popular interest in the "old Wild West" increased across the nation. Three famous Wild West shows originated in Oklahoma and provided working experience for future Hollywood and rodeo cowboy stars. Zach Mulhall created a show from his ranch near Guthrie that toured from 1900 through 1915 showcasing the talents of his daughter, Lucille. President Theodore Roosevelt invited Lucille to ride in his inaugural parade, and her performances across the United States led to what is believed to be the first use of the word "cowgirl." Mulhall's show included a young trick roper from Claremore, Oklahoma, named Will Rogers, who became Oklahoma's favorite son and a nationally celebrated performer, comedian, and political commentator in the 1920s and 1930s. Gordon "Pawnee Bill" Lillie featured his wife, May Lillie, in his show, and the Miller Brothers' 101 Ranch near Ponca City, Oklahoma, produced a popular show that toured until the Great Depression. Famous cowboys from Oklahoma included Bill Pickett, Tom Mix, and Gene Autry. Informal local rodeo competitions testing a variety of cowboy skills developed into more than one hundred rodeos yearly in Oklahoma involving events at the high school, the intercollegiate, and the professional levels.
Republican Party appointees dominated territorial politics in Oklahoma, with only a single Democratic governor, William C. Renfrow (1893–1897). The opposite has been true since statehood. Only three Republicans have been elected governor of the state. The first, Henry Bellmon, served from 1963 to 1967 and again from 1987 to 1991. Oklahoma politics since the 1950s, however, has followed a pattern of Democrat leadership in the state, but support for Republican national presidential candidates. Lyndon Johnson, in 1964, was the only Democrat to win Oklahoma's presidential vote in the last third of the twentieth century. From 1968 through the end of the twentieth century, a majority of U.S. Senate seats also went to the Republicans. Following the reports from the year 2000 census, Oklahoma dropped from six seats in the House of Representatives to five. A dome and a statue of a Native American titled "The Guardian" for the capitol building were completed in 2002. The dome had been planned for the state capitol building, originally completed in 1917, but had been abandoned because of financial commitments during World War I (1914–1918).
Oklahoma's economic development most often followed cycles of boom and bust. The state benefited from the national demands for increased production of oil and agricultural products during World War I, but the 1920s and 1930s proved to be economically and politically challenging. Two governors in the 1920s, John Walton and Henry Johnston, were impeached and removed from office. Longstanding racial tensions erupted into a race riot in Tulsa in 1921 that left the African American section of the city a burned ruin and hundreds dead or missing. Ku Klux Klan activity and smoldering Oklahoma Socialist Party discontent underscored worsening economic conditions. By the 1930s, the majority of Oklahoma farms were operated by tenant farmers, and western Oklahoma experienced the devastation of the dust bowl. The state treasury had a $5 million deficit, the oil market was depressed, and mass unemployment, bank failures, and fore-closures threatened the state. Thousands of impoverished Oklahomans, referred to negatively as "Okies," joined migrants from other states making their way west in search of work. The census reported a decline in the state population between 1930 and 1940 by approximately 60,000.
Boom and bust continued to mark the state's economic progress through the 1980s. World War II (1939–1945) demands for petroleum, coal, food, and cotton, as well as substantial government spending for military installations, brought a return of prosperity to the state. Following the war, Oklahoma ranked fourth in the nation in the production of petroleum and natural gas, and continued to rely on this industry and cattle and agriculture for economic growth. The Arab oil embargo and grain sales to the Soviet Union in the 1970s pushed per capita income to national levels. The 1980s produced a massive readjustment as oil prices plummeted from a high of $42 per barrel to just over $10. Wheat prices declined dramatically as well. This major downturn in primary business investments affected every sector of the state's economy and led to a determined effort to diversify economic activities through recruitment of manufacturing and technology. Trade, services, public administration, and manufacturing top the list as largest employers in the state. Cooperative planning efforts between state government and Oklahoma's forty-three colleges and universities led to innovations such as the National Weather Center. State per capita personal income increased 46 percent from 1990 to 2000.
Oklahoma, its history, and its people gained renewed national interest following the bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City on 19 April 1995 by Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols. A national memorial now stands at the site of the tragedy, which killed 168 people. The state's population grew by 9.7 percent between 1990 and 2000 to reach 3,450,654. In 2000 Oklahoma had a larger Native American population, 273,230, than any other state in the union. The Hispanic population was the fastest growing group in the state, more than doubling in size from 86,160 in 1990 to 179,304 in 2000. Since 1950, more Oklahomans have lived in the cities than in rural areas. At the beginning of the twenty-first century Oklahoma City (506,132) ranked first in size, followed by Tulsa (393,049) and Norman (95,694).
Baird, W. David, and Danney Goble. The Story of Oklahoma. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1994.
Gibson, Arrell Morgan. Oklahoma, A History of Five Centuries. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1965.
Joyce, Davis D., ed. An Oklahoma I Had Never Seen Before: Alternative Views of Oklahoma History. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1994.
Morgan, David R., Robert E. England, and George G. Humphreys. Oklahoma Politics and Policies: Governing the Sooner State. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1991.
Reese, Linda Williams. Women of Oklahoma, 1890–1920. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1997.
Stein, Howard F., and Robert F. Hill, eds. The Culture of Oklahoma. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1993.
Thompson, John. Closing the Frontier: Radical Response in Oklahoma, 1889–1923. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1986.
Wickett, Murray R. Contested Territory: Whites, Native Americans and African Americans in Oklahoma, 1865–1907. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 2000.
COPYRIGHT 2003 The Gale Group Inc.
Oklahoma (ōkləhō´mə), state in SW United States. It is bordered by Missouri and Arkansas (E); Texas, partially across the Red River (S, W); New Mexico, across the narrow edge of the Oklahoma Panhandle (W); and Colorado and Kansas (N).
Facts and Figures
Area, 69,919 sq mi (181,090 sq km). Pop. (2010) 3,751,351, an 8.7% increase since the 2000 census. Capital and largest city, Oklahoma City. Statehood, Nov. 16, 1907 (46th state). Highest pt., Black Mesa, 4,973 ft (1,517 m); lowest pt., Little River, 287 ft (88 m). Nickname, Sooner State. Motto,Labor Omnia Vincit [Labor Conquers All Things]. State bird, scissor-tailed flycatcher. State flower, mistletoe. State tree, redbud. Abbr., Okla.; OK
The high, short-grass plains of W Oklahoma are part of the Great Plains, which are chilled by north winds in the winter and baked by intense heat in the summer. There are extensive grazing lands and wheat fields. The plains are broken here and there, notably by Black Mesa in the Panhandle and by the Wichita Mts. in the southwest, but the general slope is downward to the east, and central and E Oklahoma is mostly prairie, rising in the northeast to the Ozark Mts. and in the southeast to the Ouachita Mts.
The rivers that flow from west to east across the state—the Arkansas and its tributaries, the Cimarron, and the Canadian (with the North Canadian) in the north, the Red River with the Washita and other tributaries in the south—are much more prominent in the east. Chickasaw National Recreation Area is in S Oklahoma. Oklahoma City is the capital, and the other large city is Tulsa.
Cotton, formerly the leading cash crop of Oklahoma, has been succeeded by wheat; income from livestock, however, exceeds that from crops. Many minerals are found in Oklahoma, including coal, but the one that gave the state its wealth is oil. After the first well was drilled in 1888, the petroleum industry grew enormously, until Oklahoma City and Tulsa were among the great natural gas and petroleum centers of the world. Oil and gas have declined somewhat in importance today. Many of Oklahoma's factories process local foods and minerals, but its chief manufactures include nonelectrical machinery and fabricated metal products. Military bases and other government facilities are also important.
Government and Higher Education
The original 1907 constitution is still in effect. Oklahoma has a legislature of 48 senators and 101 representatives. The governor is elected for a four-year term. The state elects two U.S. senators and five representatives and has seven electoral votes. In 1994, Republican Frank Keating won the governorship; he was reelected in 1998. Democrat Brad Henry narrowly won the office in the 2002 election and retained it in 2006. Mary Fallin, a Republican, was elected to the post in 2010 and 2014; she was the first woman to win the governorship.
Among institutions of higher learning in the state are Oklahoma State Univ., at Stillwater; the Univ. of Oklahoma, at Norman and Oklahoma City; and the Univ. of Tulsa and Oral Roberts Univ., at Tulsa.
The Native American Heritage
Oklahoma's Native American population is the largest in the nation—252,420 at the 1990 census. Several indigenous cultures existed in the area before the first European visited in 1541. Francisco Coronado almost certainly crossed Oklahoma in that year, and Hernando De Soto may have visited E Oklahoma. Later Juan de Oñate passed through W Oklahoma, and some other Spanish explorers and traders and French traders from Louisiana visited the region, but there was no development of the area.
Tribes of the Plains cultures—Osage, Kiowa, Comanche, and Apache—dominated the west; the Wichita and other relatively sedentary tribes lived farther east. It is asserted that the first European trading post was established at Salina by the Chouteau family of St. Louis before the territory was transferred to the United States by the Louisiana Purchase in 1803, but the land remained in control of the sparse and nomadic native population. For the most part only traders, official explorers (notably Stephen H. Long), and scientific and curious travelers (among them Washington Irving and George Catlin) came into the present-day state.
In 1819 the Adams-Onís Treaty with Spain defined Oklahoma as the southwestern boundary of the United States. After the War of 1812 the U.S. government invited the Cherokee of Georgia and Tennessee to move into the area, and a few had come to settle. Soon intense white pressure for their lands, with the approval of President Andrew Jackson, forced the Cherokee and the others of the Five Civilized Tribes (the Choctaw, the Chickasaw, the Creek, and the Seminole) to abandon their old homes east of the Mississippi and to take up residence in what was to become the Indian Territory. Their tragic removal is known as the Trail of Tears. They settled on the hills and little prairies of the eastern section and built separate organized states and communities.
The Cherokee particularly had a highly Europeanized culture, with a written language, invented by their great leader Sequoyah, and highly developed institutions. Some of the Cherokee were slaveholders and ran their agricultural properties in the traditional Southern plantation pattern; others were small farmers. The Five Civilized Tribes clashed briefly with the Plains Indians, particularly the Osage, but they were for a time free from white interference, and they were able to establish a civilization that strongly affected the whole history of the region.
The troubles of the whites did not, however, long escape them, and the Civil War was a major disaster. Although no major battle of the war was fought in present-day Oklahoma, there were numerous skirmishes. Most Native Americans allied themselves with the Confederacy, but Unionist disaffection was widespread, and individual violence was so prevalent that many fled, leaving their farms to desolation.
As a punishment for taking the Confederate side the Five Civilized Tribes lost the western part of the Indian Territory, and the federal government began assigning lands there to such landless eastern tribes as the Delaware and the Shawnee, as well as to nomadic Plains tribes, who put up strong resistance before they were subdued and settled on reservations. The territory was plagued by lawlessness and served as a hideout for white outlaws. After the establishment of a federal court at Fort Smith, Isaac Parker became famous as the "hanging judge."
Cattle, Railroads, and Boomers
Immediately after the Civil War the long drives of cattle from Texas to the Kansas railroad head began to cross Oklahoma, traveling over the cattle trails that became part of Western folklore. The best known was the Chisholm Trail. The cattle were fattened on the virgin ranges of Oklahoma, and cattlemen began to look on the grasslands with speculative and covetous eyes.
The first railroad to cross Oklahoma was built between 1870 and 1872, and thereafter it was not possible to keep white settlers out. They came despite proscriptive laws and treaties with the Native Americans, and by the 1880s there was a strong admixture of whites. In addition, ranches were developed that were nominally owned by Native Americans, but actually controlled by white cattlemen and their cowboys. The region quickly took on a tinge of the Old West of the cattle frontier, a tinge that it has never wholly lost.
In the 1880s land-hungry frontier farmers, the boomers, agitated to obtain the "unassigned" lands in the western section—the lands not given to any Native American tribe. The agitation succeeded, and a large strip was opened for settlement in 1889. Prospective settlers lined up on the territorial border, and at high noon they were allowed to cross on a "run" to compete in finding and claiming the best lands. Those who illegally entered ahead of the set time were the nicknamed the "sooners." Later other strips of territory were opened, and settlers poured in from the Midwest and the South.
Oklahoma Territory and Statehood
The western section of what is now the state of Oklahoma became the Oklahoma Territory in 1890; it included the Panhandle, the narrow strip of territory that, taken from Texas by the Compromise of 1850, had become a no-man's-land where settlers came in undisturbed. In 1893 the Dawes Commission was appointed to implement a policy of dividing the tribal lands into individual holdings; the Native Americans resisted, but the policy was finally enforced in 1906. The wide lands of the Indian Territory were thus made available to whites.
The Civilized Tribes made the best of a poor bargain, and the Indian Territory and Oklahoma Territory were united in 1907 to form the state of Oklahoma, with a constitution that included provision for initiative and referendum. Already the oil boom had reached major proportions, and the young state was on the verge of great economic development. At the same time, cotton, wheat, and corn were major money crops, and cattleland holdings, although shrinking, were still enormous.
The Dust Bowl
In World War I the great demand for farm products brought an agricultural boom to the state, but in the 1920s the state fell upon hard times. Recurrent drought burned the wheat in the fields, and overplanting, overgrazing, and unscientific cropping aided the weather in making Oklahoma part of the Dust Bowl of the 1930s. Farm tenancy increased in the 1920s, and in both the east and west the farms tended more and more to be held by large interests and to be consolidated in large blocks.
A great number of tenant farmers were compelled to leave their dust-stricken farms and went west as migrant laborers; the tragic plight of these "Okies" is the theme of John Steinbeck's novel The Grapes of Wrath. With the return of rains, however, and with increasing care in selecting crops and in conserving and utilizing water and soil resources, much of the Dust Bowl again became productive farm land. The demand for food in World War II and federal price supports for agricultural products after the war further aided farm prosperity.
Irrigation and an Oil Boom
Large state and federal programs for conserving river water and, at the same time, meeting irrigation needs have resulted in such constructions as the reservoir impounded by the Kerr Dam on the Arkansas River. For the most part, these programs resulted in improved agricultural conditions and created new recreation areas. In 1971 the opening of the Oklahoma portion of the Arkansas River Navigation System gave the cities of Muskogee and Tulsa (at its port Catoosa) direct access to the sea.
Oklahoma experienced another boom during the 1970s when oil prices rose dramatically. In the mid-1980s, however, Oklahoma's economy was hurt (as it had been in the 1930s) by dependence on a single industry, as oil prices fell rapidly.
See V. E. Harlow, Oklahoma History (5th ed. 1967); E. C. McReynolds, Oklahoma: A History of the Sooner State (rev. ed. 1971); A. Marriott and C. K. Rachlin, Oklahoma (1973); A. H. Morgan and H. W. Morgan, Oklahoma (1982); A. M. Gibson, Oklahoma: A History of Five Centuries (1984); J. S. Morris et al., Historical Atlas of Oklahoma (3d ed. 1986).
Copyright The Columbia University Press
Oklahoma City . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 405
Tulsa . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 419
The State in Brief
Nickname: Sooner State
Motto: Labor omnia vincit (Labor conquers all things)
Bird: Scissor-tailed flycatcher
Area: 69,898 square miles (2000; U.S. rank: 20th)
Elevation: Ranges from 289 feet to 4,973 feet above sea level
Climate: Temperate and continental, with seasonal extremes
Admitted to Union: November 16, 1907
Capital: Oklahoma City
Head Official: Governor Brad Henry (D) (until 2007)
2004 estimate: 3,523,553
Percent change, 1990–2000: 9.7%
U.S. rank in 2004: 28th
Percent of residents born in state: 62.6% (2000)
Density: 50.3 people per square mile (2000)
2002 FBI Crime Index Total: 165,715
Racial and Ethnic Characteristics (2000)
Black or African American: 260,968
American Indian and Alaska Native: 273,230
Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander: 2,372
Hispanic or Latino (may be of any race): 179,304
Age Characteristics (2000)
Population under 5 years old: 236,353
Population 5 to 19 years old: 765,927
Percent of population 65 years and over: 13.2%
Median age: 35.5 years (2000)
Total number of births (2003): 51,040
Total number of deaths (2003): 35,325 (infant deaths,378)
AIDS cases reported through 2003: 2,085
Major industries: Machinery, oil, gas, agriculture, food processing, manufacturing
Unemployment rate: 4.2% (December 2004)
Per capita income: $26,567 (2003; U.S. rank: 40th)
Median household income: $36,733 (3-year average, 2001-2003)
Percentage of persons below poverty level: 14.0% (3-year average, 2001-2003)
Income tax rate: Ranges from 0.5% to 6.75%
Sales tax rate: 4.5%
COPYRIGHT 2006 Thomson Gale
November 16, 1907
The Sooner State
State bird :
State flower :
State tree :
State motto :
Labour conquers all things
© World Encyclopedia 2005, originally published by Oxford University Press 2005.
Oklahoma was admitted to the Union as the forty-sixth state on November 16, 1907. Its location in the western south central United States makes it a geographic melting pot. Sharing borders with Texas and Arkansas, Oklahoma is part of the South. But its common borders with Missouri and Kansas place Oklahoma in the central United States, and its borders with Colorado and New Mexico give the state a western flavor. Oklahoma is the nation's eighteenth largest state with over 69,000 square miles. Its population of 3.3 million people ranks 30th among the fifty states. Oklahoma City is the state's capital and its most populous city.
The state enjoys a diverse topography, climate, and economy. The humid eastern region of Oklahoma is graced by seven million acres of forests and 2,600-foot mountainous peaks where mining and lumbering are the chief economic activities. The east is also home to hundreds of swift-running rivers, many of which are damned to provide hydroelectric power in neighboring communities. Wheat is grown and cattle raised in the more temperate, low-rolling prairies to the west. Most of Oklahoma's cotton is grown in the drier, heavily irrigated southwestern counties. Petroleum and natural gas are produced throughout the state—Oklahoma is one of the country's five leading producers of both mineral fuels.
Oklahoma winters are relatively mild, with temperatures in January averaging about 38 degrees Fahrenheit. Spring brings dozens of tornadoes that twist through the state annually, usually leaving measurable damage. Summers tend to be long and hot, and periodic droughts can turn the semi-arid western region of Oklahoma into a dust bowl. But the state's sometimes challenging climate does not stop yearly visits from 16 million tourists, who generate over $3 billion in gross revenue for the state. Popular Oklahoma tourist attractions include plentiful state parks, rodeos, Old West shows, and Native American exhibits.
Native Americans played an integral role in Oklahoma's early history. The name "Oklahoma" itself is derived from two Choctaw words: "okla" meaning people and "humma" meaning red. Oklahoma has been inhabited by Native Americans since at least 1200 ad. Explored by the Spanish in the sixteenth century and settled by the French in the seventeenth century, Oklahoma was acquired by the United States in 1803 as part of the Louisiana Purchase. To open land for white settlers in the Atlantic states during the 1820s the federal government began relocating Native Americans from their homelands in the southeastern United States to the new Louisiana Territory west of the Mississippi. The most populous tribes inhabiting this area were the Choctaw, Chickasaw, Creek, Seminole, and Cherokee. Many of these Native Americans adopted European dress styles, farming methods, and political practices.
In the 1830s the federal government seized more land from Native Americans and created what was then called the Indian Territory, which included all of present-day Oklahoma as well as parts of Nebraska and Kansas. Tens of thousands of Native Americans were forcibly uprooted from their communities and driven into this newly created territory. Two-fifths of the uprooted Native Americans died along the way, while others suffered great hardship in what became known as the Trail of Tears.
During the American Civil War (1861–1865) the five tribes indigenous to Oklahoma signed treaties committing their support to the Confederate states. But the war left Oklahoma in ruins. Homes, land, and personal property were destroyed, creating widespread poverty and lawlessness. From the disorder, outlaws and bandits emerged, including the notorious Frank and Jesse James. In response to complaints about the growing tumult, the federal government built a district courthouse in Arkansas and appointed hundreds of U.S. marshals to quell the chaos.
The federal government also built a number of military posts that were designed to keep Native Americans on their reservations. (The Indian Territory had been reduced to the area of present-day Oklahoma after various tribes surrendered land as a condition for rejoining the Union.) Beginning in 1866 native peoples from several western states were relocated to reservations on the western half of the Indian Territory, while the five tribes were cramped into reservations on the eastern half. Skirmishes soon erupted when Native Americans left their reservations to hunt for food on white settlements in Texas and Kansas. U.S. troops were ordered to chase after the wayward Native Americans, beat them back to the reservations, and disarm them. During one particularly cruel military campaign in the winter of 1868, Colonel George Armstrong Custer led a Seventh Cavalry attack on an unsuspecting Cheyenne village near the banks of Oklahoma's Washita River. Custer's troops killed more than one hundred men, women, and children.
Treaties and federal laws further encroached upon the Indian Territory. In 1889 Congress opened 800,000 acres for settlement in the central Indian Territory known as "the Unassigned Lands." Promoters (called "Boomers") organized the settlers (called "Sooners") into communities of home seekers. On April 22, 1889, 50,000 Sooners lined up on the border of the Unassigned Lands, awaiting their signal to race across the unclaimed lots in search of property they wanted to settle. By nightfall nearly all of the available land was taken, and Oklahoma had a new nickname, the Sooner State. "Boomer Sooner," the University of Oklahoma's fight song, was also named after this page in the state's history.
The Native American population in Oklahoma was decimated by the influx of Sooners during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Native Americans comprised only 9 percent of Oklahoma's population at the time it was granted statehood in 1907, a stark contrast to their 27 percent of the pre-statehood population of 1890. African Americans, many of whom had been lured from other southern states by the promise of unsettled land in Oklahoma, comprised 10 percent of the state's population. They established more all-black towns in Oklahoma than the rest of the country combined.
Although African Americans were discriminated against in Oklahoma, as they were elsewhere in the country, the Oklahoma African American community served as a bellwether for the Civil Rights Movement. For example, African Americans in Oklahoma were among the first to successfully file lawsuits challenging the system of racial segregation in the South. These lawsuits, brought to court during the 1940s, fore-shadowed the U.S. Supreme Court's groundbreaking 1954 decision in Brown v. Board of Education, which declared racial segregation in all public schools unconstitutional.
Oklahoma continued to act as a kind of national political and economic barometer for the remainder of the twentieth century. Relations between Native Americans in Oklahoma and the federal government seesawed during this time. The federal government teetered between periods when local tribes were encouraged to exercise greater authority over their internal affairs and periods when the federal government interfered with that authority. Oklahoma farmers enjoyed a boom in wheat prices that resulted from massive grain sales to the Soviet Union in the 1970s, but suffered a swoon when the prices began to fall in the 1980s. The Oklahoma petroleum industry also mirrored that pattern as it watched gas prices skyrocket during the OPEC oil embargo of the 1970s, but then saw oil-industry jobs disappear as prices dropped a decade later.
Near the end of the century Oklahoma became the site of the most deadly terrorist act in U.S. history. On April 19, 1995, 168 people died in Oklahoma City when a bomb exploded inside a rental truck parked outside the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building. Timothy McVeigh was convicted of 11 counts of conspiracy and murder for his part in the bombing, while Terry Nichols was found guilty of conspiracy and involuntary manslaughter. Prosecutors portrayed the defendants as right wing, anti-government extremists who sought revenge for the federal government's destruction of the Branch Davidian compound in Waco, Texas. McVeigh was sentenced to death and Nichols to life in prison.
See also: Native American Policy
"Oklahoma Government Information Server," [cited May 25, 1999] available from the World Wide Web @ www.state.ok.us/.
"Oklahoma Is Home Of Indian." Daily Oklahoman, April 25, 1993.
Schumacher, Krista. "Exhibit Leads Tour of Oklahoma's Indian History." Tulsa World, September 21, 1994.
"State of Oklahoma," [cited May 25, 1999] available from the World Wide Web @ www.surfinok.com/okhistor.htm/.
Worldmark Encyclopedia of the States. Detroit: Gale Research, 1998, s.v. "Oklahoma."
COPYRIGHT 2000 The Gale Group Inc.
© Oxford Dictionary of Rhymes 2007, originally
published by Oxford University Press 2007.