A large Indian reservation occupied most of Oklahoma's land for about 60 years in the 1800s. During that time, the United States government had designated the region as the last homeland for several Indian tribes. The tribes established separate nations with their own governments and schools. The government opened the region to white settlers on April 22, 1889. On that one day, the state's population grew by about 50,000. However, some settlers tried to stake their claims for free land sooner than the law permitted, earning them the nickname "Sooners." For that reason, Oklahoma is known as the "Sooner State."
Oklahoma was created from a combination of Indian and Oklahoma territory. Because of that, the state has the second largest Native American population in the country; only California has more Native American residents. The names of many places in the state still retain their Native American names. In fact, the state's name comes from the two Indian words "okla" meaning "people" and "homma" meaning "red." Therefore, Oklahoma means "red people."
Oklahoma is a West South Central state bordered by Kansas to the north, Arkansas to the east, Texas to the south, and New Mexico to the west. The state is shaped like a pan with a long handle. Its long panhandle borders Texas to the north. Oklahoma's landscape includes wooded mountains, flat plains, and low hills.
Oklahoma is an important producer of agricultural products, including wheat, cattle, cotton, and mineral fuels like petroleum products and coal. The state also produces lumber. In recent years, Oklahoma has tried to attract industry to the state. Today, its factories make aerospace equipment, cars, electronics, and tires.
Oklahoma is famous for many things. There is a working oil well on the front lawn of the state Capitol building. View artwork depicting the American West at the National Cowboy Hall of Fame in Oklahoma City, the state's capital and largest city. Famous humorist Will Rogers was born in the state when a large portion of it was still Indian Territory. The movie "Twister" was filmed in Oklahoma because tornadoes are common in the state. John Steinbeck, a famous American author, described the drought of the 1930s in his famous novel "The Grapes of Wrath." The drought caused many people to move from Oklahoma to California.
Oklahoma's state song comes from the hit musical "Oklahoma!" The musical was created in 1943 and was about the cowboys and farmers in the state during its territorial days. The abbreviation for Oklahoma is OK.