Oklahoma Origins: Boomers & Sooners

Native Americans, African American Pioneers, Immigrants & land Run Settlers

a boomer

Oklahoma was the 46th state to enter the Union. Although most people recognize Oklahoma as representing a home place for the Cherokee Nation, many do not realize the name Oklahoma is of Choctaw origin.  It combines two native Choctaw terms “okla” (red) and hummus” (humans).  Located in the central southern United States, Oklahoma rests above Texas and below Kansas. The state’s population fluctuates between three  and three quarter million to four million residents and covers a land area of almost sixty-nine thousand square miles. Oklahoma residents are referred to as “Oklahomans.”

Oklahoma is registered as the twentieth largest state in the nation and holds the twenty-eighth position for most populated. Oklahoma achieved statehood on November 16, 1907 combining both Oklahoma Territory and Indian Territory together. Oklahoma City is the capital and largest city in the state.

The history of Oklahoma can be traced back to 1541 when Coronado a noted Spanish explorer made his way across the area that would later become the state of Oklahoma in search of the “Lost City of Gold.” In 1803 this same parcel of ground became part of the “Louisiana Purchase.”

In the late 1800’s a group of land seekers calling themselves “Boomers” petitioned Congress for the rich Oklahoma and Indian Territory lands to be opened up for “non-Indian” ownership. To achieve this end the U. S. government wrote treaties and forced Native Americans to sign them accepting individual allotments of land and giving up their communal tribal holdings. The next step in the process of land distribution was the execution of six land runs during the period from 1889 to 1895. Settlers came not just from across the Nation but from across the ocean. The predominant countries of migration were Germany, Ireland and Poland. Oklahoma was nicknamed the “Sooner State” reflective of eager settlers called “sooners” who started on the runs before the legal time of noon.

African Americans who had been former slaves took part in land ownership through both the “land run” process and by individual allotment as Native American tribal members. African Americans were introduced to the Oklahoma and Indian Territories as Indian’s slaves.  They found their way to the territories as part of the “Trail of Tears.”  Sticking the grueling experience out many African Americans became successful cowboys, settlers, gunfighters, farmers, ranchers, world famous jazz musicians, entertainers, civil rights leaders and more.

The end of the Civil War saw “freedmen”  emancipated slaves and other black settlers in positions of the Oklahoma and Indian Territories given the right to vote, fulfill educational goals and enjoy many other freedoms not known before. “The promise of Oklahoma and  Indian Territory freedom for the freedman brought tens of thousands of ex-southern slaves to the area. Over ten percent of the territorie’s population were African American pioneers who created twenty-seven black towns and surrounding communities. Taft and Langston are two of those that today still hold solid and important places in the overall face of the state. Oklahoma is currently enriched with black rodeos, reunions and celebrations such as Juneteenth a festival held annually on the nineteenth of June by African Americans (especially in the southern states), to commemorate emancipation from slavery in Texas on that day in 1865.

African American soldiers earned an integral and decisive position In Oklahoma history. One of their greatest victories was at “the Battle of Honey Springs” near Muskogee on July 17, 1863.  It was here that black soldiers secured the Arkansas River and the Texas Road which was then a major transportation route. This victory assured the Union Army a stake in Indian Territory that was never lost.

a buffalo

In 1866 Congress created the 9th and 10th troops especially for these black soldiers. The 10th troop was stationed at Fort Gibson and the 9th at Fort Sill. During this era black soldiers built and held many Oklahoma forts fighting bandits, cattle and horse thieves, buffalo poachers and Mexican revolutionaries.  These soldiers were given the name “Buffalo Soldiers” and still hold a place of honor and respect in the Oklahoma history books today.

Following the Civil War Oklahoma became a major player in the Nations cattle industry. oklahoma has a rich cowboy heritage filled with vivid memories of cattle drives and cattle terms like “doggies” referring to cattle and “cowpokes”  not spoken of much any more.  After the Oklahoma land run project was completed huge ranch operations from neighboring states mainly Texas and Kansas moved in on the lands left vacant. Between 1875 and 1880 the majority of unoccupied lands in the western portion of the territory were filled by out of state owners bringing their new techniques and stock such as ‘Texas longhorns” into Oklahoma territory.

a cow

These huge ranches were not fenced and cattle grazed freely often crossing unmarked range lines which separated land ownership rights. Cattle were branded with the individual ranch brands for singular identification. Once a year in the spring ranch hands came together from the different ranches and held “round-ups”  scouring their entire holdings gathering up the cattle and dividing them according to their brands. New calves were claimed and properly branded according to their mother’s brands. It was this ranch development combined with uncontrolled hunting practices that brought about the disappearance of the great buffalo herds that once roamed freely throughout the territories.

a oil

After statehood oil was discovered in mass quantities underneath the Oklahoma soil. The rich discovery brought people from across the globe and huge cities sprang up.  Tulsa, Bartlesville and Ponca City are such cities. Oklahoma City saw a huge increase in size and prosperity.

Today Oklahoma relies on a varied economic base of which agriculture, aviation, biotechnology, energy including natural gas and oil and telecommunications are the leading industries. Oklahoma University football teams are recognized around the world and provide another source of lucrative income.

a lake

Oklahoma is a beautiful state filled with great fishing and watersport’s lakes rivers and waterways. Small mountain ranges, prairies and eastern forests spotlight Oklahoma’s appearance.  Tornadoes and thunderstorms are a natural occurrence and Oklahoma storm chasers provide a sizable measure of safety and security to residents. Thirty-nine unique Indian tribes grace Oklahoma. Twenty-five native American languages are spoken within Oklahoma boundaries, more than in any other state in the nation.

Oklahoma is predominantly a Republican state according to registered voter polls and is part of the bible-belt offering statewide belief in evangelical christianity. Famous Oklahomans include:  From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. This is not an all inclusive list.

Actors, Directors, Screenwriters and Producers

a bradBrad Pitt


a troy Troy Aikman


a author Louis L;Amour

Aviators and Astronauts

a pilot Will Rogers & Wiley Post


a walmart Sam Walton


a will Will Rogers


a belle  Belle Starr

Miss America Winners

a miss Jennifer Berry

Military and Political Figures

a dan David Boren Sr.


a gartharebaa blakea toby

Garth Brooks, Reba McEntire, Blake Shelton & Toby Kieth

Native Americans

a cherokee Sequoyah

Radio and Television Personalities

a walter Walter Cronkite

Scientists, Including Medical

a david David Deming

Religious Figures

a oral Oral Roberts

Visual Artists

aceeacee 2 Acee Blue Ragle


a charles  Charles Page

Speaking of Oklahoma when it comes right down to it the lyrics to the state song say it best:

There’s never been a better time to start in life-
It ain’t too early and it aint too late!
Starting as a farmer with a brand new wife-
Soon be livin’ in a brand new state!
Brand new state – gonna treat you great!
Gonna bring you barley, carrots and pertaters,
Pasture for the cattle, spinich and termaters,
Flowers on the prarie where the June bugs zoom,
Plen’y of air and plen’y of room,
Plen’y of room to swing a rope!
Plen’y of heart and plen’y of hope.
OOOOk-lahoma, where the wind comes sweepin’ down the plain,
And the wavin’ wheat can sure smell sweet, When the wind comes right behind the rain.
OOOOk-lahoma, Ev’ry night my honey lamb and I, Sit alone and talk and watch a hawk makin’ lazy circles in the sky.
We know we belong to the land (yo-ho)
And the land we belong to is grand!
And when we say
Yeeow! Aye-yip-aye-yo-ee-ay!
We’re only sayin’
You’re doin’ fine, Oklahoma!
Oklahoma O.K.!
Ooook-lahoma, where the wind comes sweepin’ down the plain
And the wavin’ wheat can sure smell sweet
When the wind comes right behind the rain.
Oklahoma, Ev’ry night my honey lamb and I
Sit alone and talk and watch a hawk
Makin’ lazy circles in the sky.
We know we belong to the land
And the land we belong to is grand!
And when we say
Yeeow! Ayipioeeay!
We’re only sayin’
You’re doin’ fine, Oklahoma!
Oklahoma O.K.
We know we belong to the land
And the land we belong to is grand!
And when we say
Yeeow! Aye-yip-aye-yo-ee-ay!
We’re only sayin’
You’re doin’ fine, Oklahoma!
O.K. L – A – H – O – M – A
Composed by Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein for the 1943 Broadway musical “Oklahoma” this became Oklahoma’s state song in 1953.
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