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Oklahoma: Sooner State
CAPITAL: Oklahoma City
JOINED UNION: November 16, 1907
STATE BIRD: Scissor-tailed Flycatcher
STATE FLOWER: Mistletoe
MEANING OF STATE NAME: Based on Choctaw Indian words for "red man"
1992 POPULATION: 3,212,198
RANK FOR POPULATION: 28
LAND AREA: 68,679 square miles
RANK IN SIZE IN UNION: 18
ECONOMY: Oil exploration, petroleum, publishing, grains
HISTORY: The first white explorers in the area were Spanish. Oklahoma became part of the United States in 1803 with the Louisiana Purchase. Plains Indians, like the Comanche and Osage, had hunted buffalo in this area for centuries. Then, in 1838, Cherokee Indians were forcibly removed from their Georgia homeland and relocated by U.S. troops to Oklahoma in a march called the "Trail of Tears." Oklahoma became known to white settlers as Indian Territory. It was home to the Cherokee, Choctaw, Chickasaw, Creek, and Seminole -- known as the "Five Civilized Tribes." Homestead acts and land runs in the late 1800s opened Indian lands to white settlers and forced Indians out. Oklahoma was hit by drought in the 1930s and the dry, unfertile land forced many farmers to move away from Oklahoma in search of work. Oil revitalized the state economy.
Sequoyah: Beyond Sign Language 1821
CHEROKEE NATION, OKLAHOMA
As the mighty California sequoia trees rise out of the forest, so Sequoyah, the Cherokee Indian for whom the trees are named, rose out of his people to make his mark. Sequoyah developed an 86-letter alphabet for reading and writing the Cherokee language.
In the past, when Indians of different tribes assembled, they spoke in sign language because they could not understand each other's spoken language. With Sequoyah's alphabet, learning to speak Cherokee became possible. Cherokee is an Iroquois language that was spoken in Tennessee, Georgia, and other southern regions. Cherokee is also related to Mohawk, Oneida, and Seneca-Cayuga languages.
To create his alphabet, Sequoyah borrowed symbols from English grammar books and created other symbols as needed. Probably born around 1760, he would have been about 21 years old when he created this alphabet.
Interested in the general advancement of his people, Sequoyah went to Washington, D.C. in 1828, as a representative of western tribes. The Cherokee were a highly civilized tribe who had built roads, schools, and their own system of representational government when Sequoyah lived. Becoming farmers and cattle ranchers, the Cherokee were nonetheless labeled as "savages," and targeted for removal from their lands in 1935, under President Jackson. Sequoyah died in 1843.
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