Indian name meaning “the red people”
Nickname: Sooner State
State bird: Scissor-tailed Flycatcher
State flower: Mistletoe
Capital: Oklahoma City
Time: Central (GMT – 6)
Oklahoma is home to more Native American tribes than any other State except California, with 39 tribal headquarters and members of at least 67 tribes. While Native Americans have lived in Oklahoma for thousands of years, many tribes were forcibly relocated to this land (many dying from starvation and disease along the way on the so-called ‘trails of tears’) when it was established as Indian Territory in the early 1800s. Today, visitors will find Native American art galleries, museums, historic sites, powwows, dances and festivals. The Cherokee Heritage Center (outside Tahlequah), the Cheyenne Heritage Trail, the Five Civilized Tribes Museum (in Muskogee) and numerous other sites all provide insight into Native American culture. A life-size statue of a cattle drive, entitled ‘On the Chisholm Trail’, is located in Duncan, as a monument to the US cowboy.
Oklahoma is home to the longest stretch of Route 66, with nearly 643km (400 miles) of ‘America’s Main Street’. Along an older route, the State saw cowboys and cattle drives on the Chisholm Trail; cattle are still transported along that route in trucks headed for the largest cattle auction in the USA, located in Oklahoma City’s Stockyards City. Here, visitors will find shops selling authentic western wear and gear. Oklahoma City is also home to the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum, showcasing Western and Native American art and artefacts, and the Myriad Botanical Gardens & Crystal Bridge Tropical Conservatory. The annual Red Earth Native American Cultural Festival, held each spring, is an enormous celebration of art, music and dance. Other aspects of the State’s heritage are apparent at the Oklahoma Prison Rodeo in McAlester to the east, the Oklahoma International Bluegrass Festival in Guthrie to the north, and in many unique rural festivals.
Fortunes made in oilfields left a legacy in northeastern Oklahoma that includes mansions, museums, art galleries and Art Deco architecture. The Gilcrease Museum in Tulsa contains the world’s most comprehensive collection of art of the American West. The Rodgers and Hammerstein musical Oklahoma! is still running at Discoveryland.
Some 50 State parks and many other natural havens showcase Oklahoma’s 12 distinct ecosystems and plentiful unspoilt beauty, including Robbers Cave State Park, Greenleaf State Park, Beavers Bend State Resort Park, Roman Nose State Park, the Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge, Alabaster Caverns State Park and the Tall Grass Prairie Preserve.