Walking the Choctaw Road

November 27th, 2005 No comments

[Walking the Choctaw Road]

In this fascinating book, well known storyteller Tim Tingle tells the stories of his people, the Choctaw People. Based on interviews with tribal elders, Walking the Choctaw Road has a mixture of contemporary stories of Choctaw people, historical accounts passed down from generation to generation, and stories arising from beliefs and myths.

Walking the Choctaw Road, Tingle’s first book, was released by Cinco Puntos Press in May of 2003, and has been selected as the “Oklahoma Reads Oklahoma” book for 2005.

For more information, you can visit the Oklahoma Reads Oklahoma website, where you can also read an excerpt of the book, courtesy of Cinco Puntos Press.

Categories: Oklahoma!

Thanksgiving Day

November 24th, 2005 No comments

[The Mayflower]

On December 1620, after a long and difficult voyage from Europe, the Pilgrims sailing on the Mayflower landed near present day Plymouth, in Massachusetts. It was almost winter, and their first winter was very hard. About half of them did not survive, and only the help coming from the native Wampanoag people enabled them to learn basic skills to support themselves.

Happily, their first 1621 harvest was very generous, so the Pilgrims and the Wampanoag joined to share a celebration and to give thanks to God.

The meaning of that first Thanksgiving has been preserved through centuries; today, Thanksgiving is celebrated in the U.S.A. the fourth Thursday of November (November 24th this year).

Happy Thanksgiving!

[For more information on the Mayflower and her passengers, you can visit Caleb Johnson’s MayflowerHistory.com.]

Categories: Oklahoma!

Oklahoma Statehood Day

November 16th, 2005 No comments


The United States acquired the present day Oklahoma in 1803, as part of the Louisiana Purchase Treaty. The agreement provided for the purchase of the western half of the Mississippi River basin from France, doubling the size of the U.S. and paving the way for westward expansion beyond the Mississippi.

Oklahoma was designated Indian Territory in 1828. By 1880, sixty tribes, forced by European immigration and the U.S. government to relocate, had moved to Oklahoma.

In 1889 part of the region, not assigned to any tribe (the Unassigned Lands), was opened to settlement by non-Native Americans, and in 1890 the Oklahoma Territory was organized.

And on November 16, 1907 the Oklahoma Territory and the Indian Territory were merged to create the state of Oklahoma; in 2005 the 98th Oklahoma Statehood Day is celebrated.

Categories: Oklahoma!

Veterans’ Day

November 11th, 2005 No comments

[Red poppies]

In 1918, on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day in the eleventh month, the Allied powers signed a cease-fire agreement with Germany at Rethondes, in France, ending World War I.

Since then, November 11 was celebrated in the United States to remember the sacrifices that men and women made during World War I in order to ensure a lasting peace.

Beginning in 1954, the United States designated November 11 as Veterans’ Day to honor veterans of all wars. At 11:00 in the morning, most Americans observe a moment of silence, remembering those who fought for peace.

On Veterans’ Day and Memorial Day, veteran groups raise funds for their charitable activities by selling paper poppies made by disabled veterans. This bright red wildflower became a symbol of the consequences of war after the bloody battles in Flanders fields, in Belgium.

To learn more on World War I, please visit The Heritage of the Great War.

Categories: Oklahoma!

The Oklahoma State Flag

November 6th, 2005 2 comments

[Oklahoma flag]

The first Oklahoma State Flag adopted in 1911 displayed a white star, edged in blue, centered on a field of red. Inside the star, the number 46 was shown, reference to Oklahoma as the 46th state to enter the union in 1907.

In 1925 a new flag was adopted, essentially the same as today’s state flag. This new blue flag displays an Osage warrior’s shield made from buffalo hide and decorated with seven eagle feathers hanging from the lower edge. The shield is decorated with six white crosses, representing stars and high ideals.

Superimposed over the shield are symbols of peace from two cultures: the calumet or ceremonial peace pipe from the Native American people, and the olive branch, from the Euro American people settling in the territory.

The flag design was revisited in 1941, adding the word OKLAHOMA in white letters below the shield. For this and more information on the Oklahoma State Flag, please visit the Netstate.com site.

Categories: Oklahoma!

The Scissor-tailed Flycatcher

November 1st, 2005 2 comments

[Scissor-tailed flycatcher]

The Scissor-tailed Flycatcher is the Oklahoma State bird. Scissortails are easily identified by their long, deeply forked tail, which the bird opens and shuts like a pair of scissors during flight.

Scissor-tailed flycatchers spend their winters in Central and South America, returning to North America to nest and raise young. Scissortails can be seen in Oklahoma from early April to late October, on open prairies dotted with trees, along tree-lined country roads, and even in small towns, where they perch on telephone lines, flagpoles and fences.

Scissortails are famous for their “sky dance”, a popular sight along roadsides during spring and early summer. After climbing to about 100 feet in the air, the male plunges down in an erratic, zig-zag course while uttering a rolling, cackling call. This elaborate courtship display is performed by the male to attract the attention of potential mates.

I found a wealth of information on the Scissor-tailed Flycatcher on the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation. I’d also like to mention two beautiful sites with bird photo galleries and much more: Birds of Oklahoma and the Backyard Bird Cam Blog by Pat Velte, who kindly provided the Scissortail picture. Thank you Pat!

Categories: Oklahoma!

Oklahoma! the musical

October 30th, 2005 No comments


Oklahoma, where the wind comes sweeping down the plain …

In 1953, the song Oklahoma! was declared the official song of the State of Oklahoma. It is the title song of the well known 1943 musical created by Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II, the most successful team in musical theater history.

Oklahoma! was the first Broadway show to integrate the music, songs and dances as an essential part of the story; it immediately gained an immense popularity followed, after more than a decade, by the release of its screen version directed by Fred Zinnemann (1955).

The story is set around the time Oklahoma was preparing for statehood, and it’s the tale of a farm girl who falls in love with a cowboy and then must fend off the advances of a villainous suitor.

Two versions of Oklahoma! currently exist: the widescreen Todd-AO version, and the simultaneously shot CinemaScope version. Both versions are offered in the 50th anniversary double DVD edition.

Categories: Oklahoma!

The first parking meter

October 26th, 2005 No comments

[Parking meter]

The world’s first parking meter was installed in Oklahoma City on July 16, 1935.

Carlton Cole Magee, who had invented and patented it, started the Magee-Hale Park-O-Meter Company to manufacture his parking meters. These early parking meters were produced at factories in Oklahoma City and Tulsa, Oklahoma.

From that early beginning, the use of parking meters by municipalities, colleges and universities, and private parking facilities has increased to the point that today, in the United States alone, there are an estimated five million parking meters in use.

Based on this number, if every parking meter collected only 25 cents per day, the gross revenues generated by parking meters in the U.S. for one day would be 1.25 million dollars ($1,250,000).

For more information on the history of parking meters, you can visit The Parking Meter Page.

Categories: Oklahoma!

Wagon trains

October 24th, 2005 No comments

[Wagon train]

Wagon trains, groups of covered wagons, were used to convey people and supplies to the West before the coming of the railroad. Wagon trains were used by pioneers traveling to new territories, or by professional wagoners carrying goods between the cities and the settlements.

A typical covered wagon was the Conestoga, large enough to transport up to seven metric tons, and drawn by four to eight horses. On the prairies of the Middle West and on the Great Plains, the Prairie Schooner was the preferred wagon. It was much lighter and about half the size of a Conestoga, and rarely needed more than two or four horses.

Wagon trains were organized with an almost military discipline: the order of wagons both on the trail and in camp was strictly regulated. At night the wagons were drawn into a circular corral, and a guard was kept to prevent possible surprise attacks.

The image shows the “Wagon Train” oil painting by Dustin Lyon.

Categories: Oklahoma!

The Oklahoma State Seal

October 21st, 2005 No comments

[Oklahoma Seal]

Oklahoma was the 46th state to be admitted to the Union. The Oklahoma State Seal consists of a large five-pointed star surrounded by forty-five small stars, representing the 46 states of the USA at that time.

The center of the large star contains the seal of the Territory of Oklahoma, and its five rays contain the seals of the Five Indian Nations.

The seal of the Territory of Oklahoma depicts two representatives of the white and red races shaking hands beneath the scales of Justice.

The seals of the Five Indian Nations are: for the Cherokee Nation, a seven pointed star surrounded by a wreath of oak leaves; for the Chickasaw Nation, an ancient warrior standing with bow and shield; for the Creek Nation, a sheaf of wheat and a plow; for the Choctaw Nation, an unstrung bow, three arrows and a smoking pipe-hatchet; and for the Seminole Nation, a tribesman paddling a canoe across a lake, taking goods to sell at the Trading Post.

The circular band surrounding the seal reads: Great Seal of the State of Oklahoma 1907.

[From the Oklahoma Constitution, Article 6, Section 6-35]

Categories: Oklahoma!