The 46th state to ratify the U.S. Constitution, Oklahoma became a state in 1907. The diversity of the state’s geography and the presence of 55 distinct Native American tribes is the reason that the state’s slogan is ‘Native America.’ The name Oklahoma was created by Allen Wright, the Principle Chief of the Choctaw Nation, from two Choctaw words meaning ‘red person.’ Before it was a state Oklahoma was known as Indian Territory. The town of Tahlequah in the east was the last stop on the Trail of Tears for the Cherokee Nation. After the Civil War a renegotiation of the treaties held with the tribes occupying the region created the Unassigned Lands. In the late 1880’s the U.S. government held a number of ‘land runs’ which were essentially races to grab unoccupied land within the Territory. Individuals who did not abide by the rules of the contest and settled the land before the onset of the race were called ‘Sooners.’ It soon lost its negative connotation and is now used with pride by the citizens of the state. Oklahoma covers land ranging from the high plains and semi-arid regions of the west to oak savannah lands in the central portion. Further east, the heavily forested regions of the Quachita Mountains and the western portion of the Ozarks in the east stretch across a wide swath of land bordering Arkansas. Oklahoma City is the 3rd largest city in the U.S. by total area.
7.8% of Oklahomans are Native American; the third highest percentage in the U.S. In terms of pure numbers, Oklahoma has the largest Native American population of any state in the Union. The African-American population stands at about 7.6%, nearly equal to that of the Native American population though rising at a faster rate. Oklahoma has more man-made lakes than any other state with more than one million bodies of water. This is due to the semi-arid climate of the state, and the need for intensive irrigation. Oklahoma City is the largest city in the state and the capital. It suffered from one of the worst terrorist attacks in U.S. history in 1995 when a Gulf War veteran and a small handful of conspirators blew up the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building, killing 168 people. Tulsa is the second largest city in the state and an important center for aerospace, energy, and telecommunications. Oil and natural gas makes up the largest part of the state economy. Oil wells and gas lines dot the landscape and make Oklahoma City a major transport hub. Oklahoma is the 3rd largest producer of natural gas in the U.S. When it became a state, Oklahoma had the longest constitution in the world. Interestingly, while there are more registered Democrats than Republicans in the state, the Republican candidate for president has carried the state in every election since 1968. George W. Bush won every county with 65.6 percent of the vote in 2004.