Portal:Oklahoma

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Oklahoma (pronounced: /ˌoʊkləˈhoʊmə/) is a state located in the South Central region of the United States of America. With 3,579,212 residents in 2006, it is the 28th most populous and 20th-largest state by land area. Its name is derived from the Choctaw words okla and humma, meaning "red people," and is known informally by its nickname, The Sooner State. Formed by the combination of Oklahoma Territory and Indian Territory on November 16, 1907, it was the 46th state to enter the union. Its people are known as Oklahomans, and its capital and largest city is Oklahoma City.

A major producer of oil and food, Oklahoma is also an important manufacturer of aircraft parts and a leader in biotechnology. It has one of the fastest growing economies in the nation, leading in gross domestic product growth and ranking third among states in per capita income growth. Nearly 65 percent of Oklahomans live in the metropolitan areas of Oklahoma City and Tulsa, and the cities serve as primary economic centers of the state. Six universities ranked high for academic achievement are located in the state, and two rate among the best college sports programs in American history.

Made up of small mountain ranges, prairie, and eastern forests, Oklahoma lies in the Great Plains and Ozark Highlands in a region prone to severe weather, holding the most ecologically diverse terrain in the nation, with more ecoregions per mile than any other state. With a prevalence of German, Irish, and Native American ancestry, more than 25 native languages are spoken in the state, the most in the nation. It is located at a confluence of three major cultural regions, historically serving as a route for cattle drives, a destination for southern settlers, and a government-sanctioned territory for Native Americans. Part of a strip of conservative political views and widespread beliefs in Christianity known as the Bible Belt.

Selected article

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The Woody Guthrie Folk Festival is an annually festival held in mid-July to commemorate the life and music of Woody Guthrie. The festival starts on the weekend closest to July 14 - the date of Guthrie's birth - in Guthrie's hometown of Okemah, Oklahoma. Daytime main stage performances are held inside at the Brick Street Cafe and the Crystal Theater. Evening main stage performances are held outdoors at the Pastures of Plenty. The festival is planned and implemented annually by the Woody Guthrie Coalition, a non-profit corporation, whose goal is simply to ensure Guthrie's musical legacy. The event is made possible in part from a grant from the Oklahoma Arts Council. Mary Jo Guthrie Edgmon, Woody Guthrie's younger sister, is the festival's perennial guest of honor.

The festival, which over the years has morphed into being called "WoodyFest" by attendees, was founded in 1998 and the inaugural festival included performances by Guthrie's son Arlo Guthrie, British folk-punk-rock artist Billy Bragg, Ellis Paul, Jimmy LaFave, Joel Rafael, and The Red Dirt Rangers. For the festival's founding, the Woody Guthrie Coalition commissioned a local Creek Indian sculptor to cast a full-body bronze statue of Guthrie and his guitar, complete with the guitar's well-known inscription: "This machine kills fascists". (Read more . . . )

Spotlight city

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Ardmore is the county seat of Carter County, Oklahoma, as of the 2006 census estimates, the city had a population of 24,535, while the Ardmore micropolitan statistical area totaled 56,665.

Ardmore, Indian Territory began with a plowed ditch for a Main Street in the summer of 1887 in Pickens County, Chickasaw Nation. It owes much of its existence to the construction of the Santa Fe railroad through the area during that time. It grew, as most frontier towns grew, over the years into a trading outpost for the region. A large fire in 1895 destroyed much of the fledgling town, which forced residents to rebuild nearly the entire town. In the early 1900s, Ardmore became well known for its abundance of cotton growing fields and eventually became known as the world's largest inland cotton port.

After the fields were stripped of their fertility, however, the city fortunately found itself positioned next to one of the largest oil fields ever produced in Oklahoma, the Healdton Oil Field. After its discovery in 1913, entrepreneurs and wildcatters flooded the area, and Carter County quickly became the largest oil-producing county in Oklahoma, and has remained so ever since. Ardmore has remained an energy center for the region ever since, with the region's natural wealth giving birth to such energy giants as Halliburton and the Noble Energy companies, among others. (Read more...)

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Did you know...

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  • ...that Tulsa is often considered the birthplace of U.S. Route 66?
  • ...that Oklahoma has the longest drivable stretch of Route 66 in the nation?
  • ...that in 1927, Oklahoma businessman Cyrus Avery, known the "Father of Route 66," proposed using an existing stretch of highway from Amarillo, Texas to Tulsa for the original portion of Highway 66?
  • ...that Oklahoman Cyrus Avery spearheaded the creation of the U.S. Highway 66 Association, the organization that oversaw the planning and creation of Route 66, and he placed the organization's headquarters in Tulsa?

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State facts

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The Scissortail Flycatcher, Oklahoma's state bird

Selected biography

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Julius Caesar "J. C." Watts, Jr. (born November 18, 1957) is an American politician from Oklahoma who was a college football quarterback for the Oklahoma Sooners and professionally in the Canadian Football League. Watts served in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1995 to 2003 as a Republican, representing the 4th congressional district in south-central Oklahoma. After leaving Congress he established a lobbying and consulting firm, served on corporate boards, and worked as a political commentator.

Watts was born and raised in Eufaula, Oklahoma, in a rural impoverished neighborhood. After being one of the first children to attend an integrated elementary school, he became a high school quarterback and gained a football scholarship for the University of Oklahoma. He graduated 1981 with a degree in journalism and became a football player in the Canadian Football League until his retirement in 1986.

Watts became a Baptist minister and was elected in 1990 to the Oklahoma Corporation Commission as the first African American in Oklahoma to win statewide office. He successfully ran for Congress in 1994 and was reelected to three additional terms with increasing vote margins. Watts delivered the Republican response to Bill Clinton's 1997 State of the Union address and was elected Chair of the House Republican Conference in 1998. He retired in 2003 and turned to lobbying and business work. (Read more...)

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