In 1834, the U.S. government declared the area that is now Oklahoma as Indian Territory. Thousands of Native Americans walked from Florida, Georgia, and other eastern states to Oklahoma. The journey was perilous and many died along the way.
This event became known as The Trail of Tears. In 1889, the area was opened for white homesteaders who were allowed to claim land and eventually own it if they could remain on it and farm it successfully for five years.
- Oklahoma is still home to many American Indians. Today 39 nations, including Cherokees, Choctaws, and Osages, have their headquarters here.
- Oklahoma is mostly prairie land with occasional rolling hills and valleys. The climate is dry and warm.
- Tall prairie grasses once covered over 140 million acres in Oklahoma and nearby states. Today less than 10 percent of the prairie remains. Bison graze here.
- Tornados are common in Oklahoma and other prairie states.
- During the 1930s, farmland, dried out by drought and inefficient soil management, became dusty and lifeless. Huge dust storms made the air almost black. Livestock (and sometimes people) died and thousands of farmers left the state, migrating to California, Nevada, and other western states.
Oklahoma Quick Stats
Capital: Oklahoma City (population, 579,999)
Largest city: Oklahoma City (population, 579,999)
State bird: scissor-tailed flycatcher
State flower: mistletoe
Questions and Answers
Question: Does Oklahoma have dust storms today?
Answer: The state still experiences dust storms, but better farming practices have eliminated the conditions that created the Dust Bowl of the 1930s.
Watch a short video about Oklahoma.