The American state of Oklahoma is north of Texas and west of Arkansas. In the 19th century it became a government dumping ground for the Indian tribes being dispossessed east of the Mississippi. The Osage and Quapaw Indians were already there, having been driven from their ancestral lands before Andrew Jackson signed the Indian Removal Act of 1830.
Established as Indian Territory, what is now the state of Oklahoma was intended to be a permanent home for the tribes that had been forced to move there from other parts of the United States. Several cattle trails traversed the area; many whites passing through found the Indian lands attractive and settled illegally on them.
To protect the white settlers, the government passed the Dawes Act in 1887. It broke down tribal lands into smaller plots to be allocated to individual Indian families. The government then took back the unallocated land–almost half of what had originally been given to the Indians–and made it available to white settlers and the railroads by means of the Indian Appropriations Bill of 1889.
In 1889 the government announced a Land Run that would begin at noon on April 22. An estimated 50,000 people lined up at the border of Indian territory ready to claim some of the two million acres that had been made available by the Dawes Act. The cheaters who slipped over the border before noon were called Sooners.
The new Oklahoma Territory was created on May 2, 1890. The Glenn Pool oil gusher in 1906 provided new reasons and opportunities for separating Indians from their land. On November 16, 1907, Oklahoma was established as the forty-sixth state in the Union.
The name Oklahoma is derived from Choctaw words okla and humma, “red people.” The state motto is Labor omnia vincit (work conquers all). The state nickname is “the Sooner state.” ï¿½Indian symbolism dominates the allegorical designs on the state flag and the state seal. Many counties in Oklahoma are named for Indian tribes.