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About Norman, OK
Indigenous peoples were present in what is now Oklahoma by the last ice age. Ancestors of the Wichita and Affiliated Tribes (including Teyas and Escanjaques and Tawakoni), Tonkawa, and Caddo (including Kichai) lived in what is now Oklahoma. Southern Plains villagers lived in the central and west of the state, with a subgroup, the Panhandle culture people living in the panhandle region. Caddoan Mississippian culture peoples lived in the eastern part of the state. Spiro Mounds, in what is now Spiro, Oklahoma, was a major Mississippian mound complex that flourished between AD 850 and 1450. Plains Apache people settled in the Southern Plains and in Oklahoma between 1300 and 1500.
The Expedition of Spaniard Francisco Vázquez de Coronado traveled through the state in 1541, but French explorers claimed the area in the early 18th century. By the 18th century, Comanche and Kiowa entered the region from the west and Quapaw and Osage peoples moved into what is now eastern Oklahoma. French colonists claimed the region until 1803, when all the French territory west of the Mississippi River was acquired by the United States in the Louisiana Purchase. The territory was a part of the Arkansas Territory from 1819 until 1828.
During the 19th century, the US federal government forcibly removed tens of thousands of Native Americans from their homelands from across North America and transported them to the area including and surrounding present-day Oklahoma. The Choctaw was the first of the Five Civilized Tribes to be removed from the Southeastern United States. The phrase "Trail of Tears" originated from a description of the removal of the Choctaw Nation in 1831, although the term is usually used for the Cherokee removal.
Seventeen thousand Cherokees and 2,000 of their black slaves were deported. The area, already occupied by Osage and Quapaw tribes, was called for the Choctaw Nation until revised Native American and then later American policy redefined the boundaries to include other Native Americans. By 1890, more than 30 Native American nations and tribes had been concentrated on land within Indian Territory or "Indian Country".
All Five Civilized Tribes supported and signed treaties with the Confederate military during the American Civil War. The Cherokee Nation had an internal civil war. Slavery in Indian Territory was not abolished until 1866.
In the period between 1866 and 1899, cattle ranches in Texas strove to meet the demands for food in eastern cities and railroads in Kansas promised to deliver in a timely manner. Cattle trails and cattle ranches developed as cowboys either drove their product north or settled illegally in Indian Territory. In 1881, four of five major cattle trails on the western frontier traveled through Indian Territory.
Increased presence of white settlers in Indian Territory prompted the United States Government to establish the Dawes Act in 1887, which divided the lands of individual tribes into allotments for individual families, encouraging farming and private land ownership among Native Americans but expropriating land to the federal government. In the process, railroad companies took nearly half of Indian-held land within the territory for outside settlers and for purchase.
Major land runs, including the Land Run of 1889, were held for settlers where certain territories were opened to settlement starting at a precise time. Usually land was open to settlers on a first come first served basis. Those who broke the rules by crossing the border into the territory before the official opening time were said to have been crossing the border sooner, leading to the term sooners, which eventually became the state's official nickname. Deliberations to make the territory into a state began near the end of the 19th century, when the Curtis Act continued the allotment of Indian tribal land.
Attempts to create an all-Indian state named Oklahoma and a later attempt to create an all-Indian state named Sequoyah failed but the Sequoyah Statehood Convention of 1905 eventually laid the groundwork for the Oklahoma Statehood Convention, which took place two years later. On June 16, 1906, Congress enacted a statute authorizing the people of the Oklahoma and Indian Territories (as well what would become the states of Arizona and New Mexico) to form a constitution and state government in order to be admitted as a state. On November 16, 1907, President Theodore Roosevelt issued Presidential Proclamation no. 780, establishing Oklahoma as the 46th state in the Union.
The new state became a focal point for the emerging oil industry, as discoveries of oil pools prompted towns to grow rapidly in population and wealth. Tulsa eventually became known as the "Oil Capital of the World" for most of the 20th century and oil investments fueled much of the state's early economy. In 1927, Oklahoman businessman Cyrus Avery, known as the "Father of Route 66", began the campaign to create U.S. Route 66. Using a stretch of highway from Amarillo, Texas to Tulsa, Oklahoma to form the original portion of Highway 66, Avery spearheaded the creation of the U.S. Highway 66 Association to oversee the planning of Route 66, based in his hometown of Tulsa.
Oklahoma also has a rich African-American history. Many Black towns, founded by the Freedmen of the Five Tribes during Reconstruction, thrived in the early 20th century with the arrival of Black Exodusters who migrated from neighboring states, especially Kansas. The politician Edward P. McCabe encouraged Black settlers to come to what was then Indian Territory. McCabe discussed with President Theodore Roosevelt the possibility of making Oklahoma a majority-Black state.
By the early 20th century, the Greenwood district of Tulsa was one of the most prosperous African-American communities in the United States. Jim Crow laws had established racial segregation since before the start of the 20th century, but Tulsa's Black residents had created a thriving area.
Social tensions were exacerbated by the revival of the Ku Klux Klan after 1915. The Tulsa race massacre broke out in 1921, with White mobs attacking Black people and carrying out a pogrom in Greenwood. In one of the costliest episodes of racist violence in American history, sixteen hours of rioting resulted in 35 city blocks destroyed, $1.8 million in property damage, and a death toll estimated at between 75 and 300 people. By the late 1920s, the Ku Klux Klan had declined to negligible influence within the state.
During the 1930s, parts of the state began suffering the consequences of poor farming practices. This period was known as the Dust Bowl, throughout which areas of Kansas, Texas, New Mexico and northwestern Oklahoma were hampered by long periods of little rainfall, strong winds, abnormally high temperatures, and most notably, severe dust storms sending thousands of farmers into poverty and forcing them to relocate to more fertile areas of the western United States. Over a twenty-year period ending in 1950, the state saw its only historical decline in population, dropping 6.9 percent as impoverished families migrated out of the state after the Dust Bowl.
Soil and water conservation projects markedly changed practices in the state and led to the construction of massive flood control systems and dams; they built hundreds of reservoirs and man-made lakes to supply water for domestic needs and agricultural irrigation. By the 1960s, Oklahoma had created more than 200 lakes, the most in the nation.
In 1995, Oklahoma City was the site of one of the most destructive act of domestic terrorism in American history. The Oklahoma City bombing of April 19, 1995, in which Timothy McVeigh detonated a large, crude explosive device outside the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building, killed 168 people, including 19 children. For his crime, McVeigh was executed by the federal government on June 11, 2001. His accomplice, Terry Nichols, is serving life in prison without parole for helping plan the attack and prepare the explosive.
On May 31, 2016, several cities experienced record setting flooding.
On July 9, 2020, the Supreme Court of the United States determined in McGirt v. Oklahoma that the reservations of the Five Tribes, comprising much of Eastern Oklahoma, were never disestablished by Congress and thus are still "Indian Country" for the purposes of criminal law.
Oklahoma is the 20th-largest state in the United States, covering an area of 69,899 square miles (181,040 km), with 68,595 square miles (177,660 km2) of land and 1,304 square miles (3,380 km) of water. It lies partly in the Great Plains near the geographical center of the 48 contiguous states. It is bordered on the east by Arkansas and Missouri, on the north by Kansas, on the northwest by Colorado, on the far west by New Mexico, and on the south and near-west by Texas.
Oklahoma is between the Great Plains and the Ozark Plateau in the Gulf of Mexico watershed, generally sloping from the high plains of its western boundary to the low wetlands of its southeastern boundary. Its highest and lowest points follow this trend, with its highest peak, Black Mesa, at 4,973 feet (1,516 m) above sea level, situated near its far northwest corner in the Oklahoma Panhandle. The state's lowest point is on the Little River near its far southeastern boundary near the town of Idabel, which dips to 289 feet (88 m) above sea level.
Among the most geographically diverse states, Oklahoma is one of four to harbor more than 10 distinct ecological regions, with 11 in its borders—more per square mile than in any other state. Its western and eastern halves, however, are marked by extreme differences in geographical diversity: Eastern Oklahoma touches eight ecological regions and its western half contains three. Although having fewer ecological regions Western Oklahoma contains many rare, relic species.
Oklahoma has four primary mountain ranges: the Ouachita Mountains, the Arbuckle Mountains, the Wichita Mountains, and the Ozark Mountains. Contained within the U.S. Interior Highlands region, the Ozark and Ouachita Mountains are the only major mountainous region between the Rocky Mountains and the Appalachians. A portion of the Flint Hills stretches into north-central Oklahoma, and near the state's eastern border, The Oklahoma Tourism & Recreation Department regards Cavanal Hill as the world's tallest hill; at 1,999 feet (609 m), it fails their definition of a mountain by one foot.
The semi-arid high plains in the state's northwestern corner harbor few natural forests; the region has a rolling to flat landscape with intermittent canyons and mesa ranges like the Glass Mountains. Partial plains interrupted by small, sky island mountain ranges like the Antelope Hills and the Wichita Mountains dot southwestern Oklahoma; transitional prairie and oak savannas cover the central portion of the state. The Ozark and Ouachita Mountains rise from west to east over the state's eastern third, gradually increasing in elevation in an eastward direction.
More than 500 named creeks and rivers make up Oklahoma's waterways, and with 200 lakes created by dams, it holds the nation's highest number of artificial reservoirs. Most of the state lies in two primary drainage basins belonging to the Red and Arkansas rivers, though the Lee and Little rivers also contain significant drainage basins.
Due to Oklahoma's location at the confluence of many geographic regions, the state's climatic regions have a high rate of biodiversity. Forests cover 24 percent of Oklahoma and prairie grasslands composed of shortgrass, mixed-grass, and tallgrass prairie, harbor expansive ecosystems in the state's central and western portions, although cropland has largely replaced native grasses. Where rainfall is sparse in the state's western regions, shortgrass prairie and shrublands are the most prominent ecosystems, though pinyon pines, red cedar (junipers), and ponderosa pines grow near rivers and creek beds in the panhandle's far western reaches. Southwestern Oklahoma contains many rare, disjunct species including sugar maple, bigtooth maple, nolina and Texas live oak.
Marshlands, cypress forests and mixtures of shortleaf pine, loblolly pine, blue palmetto, and deciduous forests dominate the state's southeastern quarter, while mixtures of largely post oak, elm, red cedar (Juniperus virginiana) and pine forests cover northeastern Oklahoma.
The state holds populations of white-tailed deer, mule deer, antelope, coyotes, mountain lions, bobcats, elk, and birds such as quail, doves, cardinals, bald eagles, red-tailed hawks, and pheasants. In prairie ecosystems, American bison, greater prairie chickens, badgers, and armadillo are common, and some of the nation's largest prairie dog towns inhabit shortgrass prairie in the state's panhandle. The Cross Timbers, a region transitioning from prairie to woodlands in Central Oklahoma, harbors 351 vertebrate species. The Ouachita Mountains are home to black bear, red fox, gray fox, and river otter populations, which coexist with 328 vertebrate species in southeastern Oklahoma. Also, in southeastern Oklahoma lives the American alligator.
Oklahoma has fifty-one state parks, six national parks or protected regions, two national protected forests or grasslands, and a network of wildlife preserves and conservation areas. Six percent of the state's 10 million acres (40,000 km2) of forest is public land, including the western portions of the Ouachita National Forest, the largest and oldest national forest in the Southern United States.
With 39,000 acres (160 km), the Tallgrass Prairie Preserve in north-central Oklahoma is the largest protected area of tallgrass prairie in the world and is part of an ecosystem that encompasses only ten percent of its former land area, once covering fourteen states. In addition, the Black Kettle National Grassland covers 31,300 acres (127 km) of prairie in southwestern Oklahoma. The Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge is the oldest and largest of nine National Wildlife Refuges in the state and was founded in 1901, encompassing 59,020 acres (238.8 km2).
Of Oklahoma's federally protected parks or recreational sites, the Chickasaw National Recreation Area is the largest, with 9,898.63 acres (40.0583 km). Other sites include the Santa Fe and Trail of Tears national historic trails, the Fort Smith and Washita Battlefield national historic sites, and the Oklahoma City National Memorial.
Oklahoma is in a humid subtropical region which lies in a transition zone between semi-arid further to the west, humid continental to the north, and humid subtropical to the east and southeast. Most of the state lies in an area known as Tornado Alley characterized by frequent interaction between cold, dry air from Canada, warm to hot, dry air from Mexico and the Southwestern U.S., and warm, moist air from the Gulf of Mexico. The interactions between these three contrasting air currents produces severe weather (severe thunderstorms, damaging thunderstorm winds, large hail and tornadoes) with a frequency virtually unseen anywhere else on planet Earth. An average 62 tornadoes strike the state per year—one of the highest rates in the world.
Because of Oklahoma's position between zones of differing prevailing temperature and winds, weather patterns within the state can vary widely over relatively short distances, and they can change drastically in a short time. On November 11, 1911, the temperature at Oklahoma City reached 83 °F (28 °C) (the record high for that date), then a cold front of unprecedented intensity slammed across the state, causing the temperature to reach 17 °F (−8 °C) (the record low for that date) by midnight. This type of phenomenon is also responsible for many of the tornadoes in the area, such as the 1912 Oklahoma tornado outbreak when a warm front traveled along a stalled cold front, resulting in an average of about one tornado per hour.
The humid subtropical climate (Köppen Cfa) of central, southern and eastern Oklahoma is influenced heavily by southerly winds bringing moisture from the Gulf of Mexico. Traveling westward, the climate transitions progressively toward a semi-arid zone (Köppen BSk) in the high plains of the Panhandle and other western areas from about Lawton westward, less frequently touched by southern moisture. Precipitation and temperatures decline from east to west accordingly, with areas in the southeast averaging an annual temperature of 62 °F (17 °C) and an annual rainfall of generally over 40 in (1,020 mm) and up to 56 in (1,420 mm), while areas of the (higher-elevation) panhandle average 58 °F (14 °C), with an annual rainfall under 17 in (430 mm).
Over almost all of Oklahoma, winter is the driest season. Average monthly precipitation increases dramatically in the spring to a peak in May, the wettest month over most of the state, with its frequent and not uncommonly severe thunderstorm activity. Early June can still be wet, but most years see a marked decrease in rainfall during June and early July. Mid-summer (July and August) represents a secondary dry season over much of Oklahoma, with long stretches of hot weather with only sporadic thunderstorm activity not uncommon many years. Severe drought is common in the hottest summers, such as those of 1934, 1954, 1980 and 2011, all of which featured weeks on end of virtual rainlessness and highs well over 100 °F (38 °C). Average precipitation rises again from September to mid-October, representing a secondary wetter season, then declines from late October through December.
The entire state frequently experiences temperatures above 100 °F (38 °C) or below 0 °F (−18 °C), though below-zero temperatures are rare in south-central and southeastern Oklahoma. Snowfall ranges from an average of less than 4 in (102 mm) in the south to just over 20 in (508 mm) on the border of Colorado in the panhandle. The state is home to the Storm Prediction Center, the National Severe Storms Laboratory, and the Warning Decision Training Division, all part of the National Weather Service and in Norman.
The people of Oklahoma, known as Okies, can be of any race or ethnicity. An Okie is a resident, native, or cultural descendant of Oklahoma.
The United States Census Bureau estimates Oklahoma's population was 3,963,516 during the 2020 United States Census, a 5.66% increase since the 2010 United States Census.
In 2010, the center of population of Oklahoma was in Lincoln County near the town of Sparks.
The state's 2006 per capita personal income ranked 37th at $32,210, though it has the third-fastest-growing per capita income in the U.S. Oklahoma ranks consistently among the lowest states in cost of living index.
In 2011, 7.0% of Oklahomans were under the age of 5, 24.7% under 18, and 13.7% were 65 or older. Females made up 50.5% of the population.
As of the 2010 Census, 72.2% of the population was white, 8.6% American Indian and Alaska Native, 7.4% black or African American, 1.7% Asian, 0.1% Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander, 4.1% from some other race and 5.9% of two or more races. 8.9% of Oklahoma's population were of Hispanic, Latino, or Spanish origin (they may be of any race).
In 2005, Oklahoma's estimated ancestral makeup was 14.5% German, 13.1% American, 11.8% Irish, 9.6% English, 8.1% African American, and 11.4% Native American (including 7.9% Cherokee) though the percentage of people claiming American Indian as their only race was 8.1%. Most people from Oklahoma who self-identify as having American ancestry are of overwhelmingly English and Scots-Irish ancestry with significant amounts of Scottish, Welsh and Irish inflection as well.
In 2011, 47.3% of Oklahoma's population younger than age 1 were minorities, meaning they had at least one parent who was not non-Hispanic white.
In 2011, U.S. Census Bureau American Community Survey data from 2005 to 2009 indicated about 5% of Oklahoma's residents were born outside the United States. This is lower than the national figure (about 12.5% of U.S. residents were foreign-born).
The state is in the U.S. Census' Southern region. According to the 2020 United States Census, Oklahoma is the 28th-most populous state with 3,963,516 inhabitants but the 19th-largest by land area spanning 68,594.92 square miles (177,660.0 km) of land. In 2010, Oklahoma was divided into 77 counties and contains 597 incorporated municipalities consisting of cities and towns.
In Oklahoma, cities are all those incorporated communities which are 1,000 or more in population and are incorporated as cities. Towns are limited to town board type of municipal government. Cities may choose among aldermanic, mayoral, council-manager, and home-rule charter types of government. Cities may also petition to incorporate as towns.
The Oklahoma City suburb Nichols Hills is first on Oklahoma locations by per capita income at $73,661, though Tulsa County holds the highest average.
The English language has been official in the state of Oklahoma since 2010. The variety of North American English spoken is called Oklahoma English, and this dialect is quite diverse 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, a decrease from 95% in 1990. 238,732 Oklahoma residents reported speaking a language other than English at home in the 2000 census, about 7.4% of the state's population.
The two most commonly spoken native North American languages are Cherokee and Choctaw with 10,000 Cherokee speakers living within the Cherokee Nation tribal jurisdiction area of eastern Oklahoma, and another 10,000 Choctaw speakers living in the Choctaw Nation directly south of the Cherokees. Cherokee is an official language in the Cherokee Nation tribal jurisdiction area and in the United Keetoowah Band of Cherokee Indians.
Twenty-five Native American languages are spoken in Oklahoma, second only to California. However, only Cherokee, if any, exhibits some language vitality at present. Ethnologue sees Cherokee as moribund because the only remaining active users of the language are members of the grandparent generation and older.
Spanish is the second-most commonly spoken language in the state, with 141,060 speakers counted in 2000. German has 13,444 speakers representing about 0.4% of the state's population, and Vietnamese is spoken by 11,330 people, or about 0.4% of the population, many of whom live in the Asia District of Oklahoma City. Other languages include French with 8,258 speakers (0.3%), Chinese with 6,413 (0.2%), Korean with 3,948 (0.1%), Arabic with 3,265 (0.1%), other Asian languages with 3,134 (0.1%), Tagalog with 2,888 (0.1%), Japanese with 2,546 (0.1%), and African languages with 2,546 (0.1%).
Oklahoma is part of a geographical region characterized by conservative and Evangelical Christianity known as the "Bible Belt". Spanning the southern and eastern parts of the United States, the area is known for politically and socially conservative views, with the Republican Party having the greater number of voters registered between the two parties. Tulsa, the state's second-largest city, home to Oral Roberts University, is sometimes called the "buckle of the Bible Belt".
In 2000, there were about 5,000 Jews and 6,000 Muslims, with ten congregations to each group.
According to the Pew Research Center in 2008, the majority of Oklahoma's religious adherents were Christian, accounting for about 80 percent of the population. The percentage of Catholics was half the national average, while the percentage of Evangelical Protestants was more than twice the national average (tied with Arkansas for the largest percentage of any state).
In 2010, the state's largest church memberships were in the Southern Baptist Convention (886,394 members), the United Methodist Church (282,347), the Roman Catholic Church (178,430), and the Assemblies of God (85,926) and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons) (47,349). Other religions represented in the state include Buddhism, Hinduism, and Islam.
According to the Pew Research Center in 2014, the majority of Oklahoma's religious adherents were Christian accounting for 79 percent of the population, 9 percent higher than the national average. The percentage of Evangelical Protestants declined since the last study, but they remain the largest religious group in the state at 47 percent, over 20 percent higher than the national average. The largest growth over the six years between Pew's 2008 and 2014 survey was in the number of people who identify as Unaffiliated in the state with an increase of 6 percent.
Oklahoma has been described as "the world's prison capital", with 1,079 of every 100,000 residents imprisoned in 2018, the highest incarceration rate of any state, and by comparison, higher than the incarceration rates of any country in the world.