Although one of the youngest states in the nation, Oklahoma is a land that reaches far back in time. Oklahoma's recorded history began in 1541 when Spanish explorer Coronado ventured through the area on his quest for the "Lost City of Gold." The land that would eventually be known as Oklahoma was part of the 1803 Louisiana Purchase. Beginning in the 1820s, the Five Civilized Tribes from the southeastern United.
States were relocated to Indian Territory over numerous routes, the most famous being the Cherokee "Trail of Tears." Forced off their ancestral lands by state and federal governments, the tribes suffered great hardships during the rigorous trips west. The survivors eventually recovered from the dislocation through hard work and communal support. Gradually, new institutions and cultural adaptations emerged and began a period of rapid developments often called the "Golden Age" of Indian Territory. Following the destruction of the Civil War, Oklahoma became a part of the booming cattle industry, ushering in the era of the cowboy. Western expansion reached the territory in the late 1800s, sparking a controversy over the fate of the land. Treaties enacted after the Civil War by the U.S. government forced the tribes to give up their communal lands and accept individual property allotments to make way for expansion. There was talk of using Indian Territory for settlement by African-Americans emancipated from slavery. However, the government relented to pressure, much of it coming from a group know as "Boomers," who wanted the rich lands opened to non-Indian settlement.The government decided to open the western parts of the territory.
To settlers by holding a total of six land runs between 1889 and 1895. Settlers came from across the nation and even other countries like Poland, Germany, Ireland and Slavic nations to stake their claims. And African-Americans, some who were former slaves of Indians, took part in the runs or accepted their allotments as tribal members. In the years that followed, black pioneers founded and settled entire communities in or near Arcadia, Boley, Langston and Taft. On November 16, 1907, Oklahoma became the 46th state.
Statehood had become a sure thing, in part due to a discovery which made Oklahoma the "place to go to strike it rich" -- oil. People came from all parts of the world to seek their fortunes in Oklahoma's teeming oil fields. Cities like Tulsa, Ponca City, Bartlesville and Oklahoma City flourished.
[Return to top]