Archive for the ‘Oklahoma!’ Category

The Guardian

December 13th, 2005 No comments

[Capitol Dome]

The State Capitol of Oklahoma was dedicated on June 30, 1917. Although originally designed with a dome, that part was postponed indefinitely because of World War I.

In 2000, $21 million were raised to build the missing dome; construction was completed two years later and the dome was dedicated on Statehood Day, November 16, 2002.

A 6,000 pound, 22-foot tall bronze statue stands on top of the capitol dome: the Guardian, an handsome Native American warrior figure representing Oklahoma heritage and values. It was sculpted by former State Senator Enoch Kelly Haney, a well known artist of Seminole and Creek descent.

Speaking as the voice for the statue he created, Haney said during the dedication ceremony: ” .. and I will stand guard here, over our great state, over our majestic land, over our values .. I will not be moved from my duty, from my love of Oklahoma and all of its people”.

Categories: Oklahoma!

The Santa Fe Trail

December 9th, 2005 No comments

[Covered wagon]

In 1821 the borders of New Mexico, then a Mexican province, were opened to trade with the United States after Mexico gained independence from Spain.

The Santa Fe Trail, the transportation route connecting Franklin, Missouri with Santa Fe, New Mexico, was first used that same year by William Becknell.

Initially the route followed the Arkansas River through Colorado down into New Mexico (the Mountain Route); later Becknell found an easier route for wagon trains, coming across the Oklahoma Panhandle, and known as the Cimarron Cutoff.

After the 1846-1848 Mexican-American War and the U.S. acquisition of the Southwest, the trail helped open the region to U.S. economic development and settlement, playing a vital role in the expansion of the U.S. into the lands it had acquired.

The Santa Fe Trail served as a major commercial and military road for many years, until the arrival of the railroad to Santa Fe in 1880.

More information about the Santa Fe Trail can be found on the National Park Service and the Santa Fe Trail websites.

Categories: Oklahoma!


November 30th, 2005 No comments


Adapted from the 1929 novel by Edna Ferber, Cimarron (1931) was the first Western to win the Oscar for Best Picture (the second one was Dances with Wolves in 1990).

The film opens with the spectacular sequence of the first Oklahoma Land Run on 22 April 1889, starting the epic saga of the Cravat family.

Yancey Cravat is the adventurer-idealist who spurns the opportunity to become governor, because he opposes legislation taking land away from the Native Americans. His restless spirit forces him to leave his family, ever in pursuit of new adventures, while his wife Sabra builds their newspaper Oklahoma Wigwam into a publishing empire.

Cimarron was directed by Wesley Ruggles, starring Richard Dix and Irene Dunne; a remake in 1960 was directed by Anthony Mann, and interpreted by Glenn Ford and Maria Schell.

Categories: Oklahoma!

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]

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 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!