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Oklahoma State History

Oklahoma is a state in the south-central area of the United States. It is bordered by Texas, Kansas, Missouri, Arkansas, New Mexico and Colorado.

The largest city in Oklahoma is called Oklahoma city.

Seal Of Oklahoma

Oklahoma gets its name from Native American Choctaw words.

“Okla” and “Humma” mean “red people.”

Related: Oklahoma State Facts

Night Sower

First populations and settlements

There is evidence to show us that there have been human habitations in the area of present-day Oklahoma since the last ice age.

Archaeologists call people that lived in this region Paleo Indians. Oklahoma was the site of the earliest known Paleo Indian cultures.

Glyptodon Old Drawing

The region was populated by many indigenous peoples before the arrival of Europeans.

Between AD 800-1450, the peoples living here were part of a group referred to as Mississippian culture. Over 25 Native American languages are spoken in Oklahoma.

The Wichita and the Apache peoples lived in this region from AD 900 onwards.

First Europeans

In 1682, a man called René-Robert Cavelier claimed the Mississippi River. Oklahoma was under French control between 1682 and 1763 as part of Louisiana (New France).

After the Seven Years’ War, Oklahoma was under British control, as part of the Treaty of Paris in 1763.

La Salle Plaque Ny

The United States acquired Oklahoma as part of the Louisiana Purchase in 1803.

Flag Of Oklahoma

Indian Relocation

During the Indian Removal Act (1830), many Native Americans were forced out or asked to leave their native territories and to relocate to another location.

Part of Oklahoma was to be the new home for the relocation of what were called the Five Civilised Tribes.

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Oklahoma was selected as a location because it was seen as a region that did not block “white expansion.” What white settlers meant by this was that they wanted to go to the lands with the most gold and resources in order to become rich.

When Native American populations lived in places with resources that settlers wanted to mine, they removed the Native Americans from their home and sent them to Indian Territory in Oklahoma.

Five Civilized Tribes Portraits

The Choctaw nation were the first to move. They were later joined by the Creek, who were forced by the military to move.

The Chickasaw people also signed a treaty and moved, along with the Seminoles. The Seminoles and the United States went to war in the Seminole War.

The Cherokee that remained after the Removal Act were forced to move to new Indian Territory.

These lands were purchased once more from these Native American groups in the 1890s.


Oil discoveries in Oklahoma made people very rich. The first oil was discovered in 1850, and also the first oil well in the United States was drilled in 1859.

Throughout the twentieth-century, many more oil fields were discovered. In the 1920s, the oil from the area was valued at over 3.5 million dollars.

Oklahoma State Capitol


What does Oklahoma mean?

Who were the first residents of Oklahoma?

Who claimed the Mississippi River?


When were the first oil fields discovered in Oklahoma?

What happened during the Indian Removal Act?

US State History

Philbrook Museum