The state's name is derived from the Choctaw words okla, 'people' and humma, which translates as 'red'. Oklahoma is also known informally by its nickname, "The Sooner State", in reference to the settlers who staked their claims on land before the official opening date of lands in the western Oklahoma Territory or before the Indian Appropriations Act of 1889, which increased European-American settlement in the eastern Indian Territory. Oklahoma Territory and Indian Territory were merged into the State of Oklahoma when it became the 46th state to enter the union on November 16, 1907.
With ancient mountain ranges, prairie, mesas, and eastern forests, most of Oklahoma lies in the Great Plains, Cross Timbers, and the U.S. Interior Highlands, all regions prone to severe weather. Oklahoma is at a confluence of three major American cultural regions. Historically it served as a government-sanctioned territory for Native Americans removed from east of the Mississippi River, a route for cattle drives from Texas and related regions, and a destination for Southern migrant settlers. There are currently twenty-five still spoken in Oklahoma.
A major producer of natural gas, oil, and agricultural products, Oklahoma relies on an economic base of aviation, energy, telecommunications, and biotechnology. Oklahoma City and Tulsa serve as Oklahoma's primary economic anchors, with nearly two-thirds of Oklahomans living within their metropolitan statistical areas. (Full article...)
The Dust Bowl was a series of dust storms causing major ecological and agricultural damage to American and Canadianprairie lands from 1930 to 1936 (in some areas until 1940), caused by severe drought conditions coupled with decades of extensive farming without crop rotation or other techniques that prevented erosion. The fertile soil of the Great Plains was exposed through removal of grass during plowing. During the drought, soil dried out, became dust, and blew away eastwards and southwards, mostly in large black clouds. At times, the clouds blackened the sky all the way to Chicago, and much of the soil was completely deposited into the Atlantic Ocean.
This ecological catastrophe, which began as the economic effects of the Great Depression were intensifying, caused an exodus from Texas, Oklahoma, and the surrounding Great Plains, with over 500,000 Americans left homeless. (Read more...)
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