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Oklahoma Colleges

Oklahoma Colleges

 

Oklahoma was declared Indian Territory in 1834, an area where the government at the time saw as sufficiently remote in geographical terms and useless in agricultural terms to serve as a dumping ground for displaced Native Americans.  That treaty was sold out in 1890 when the area was divided into Indian territory and the Oklahoma Territory.  The two were recombined in 1907 and Oklahoma became a state.

 

Geographically, it is very much a Great Plains state.  The rivers flow that flow from west to east – the Arkansas, the Red River and their tributaries – are much more prominent in the east and provide irrigation resources.  The plains topography is broken by the Black Mesa in the panhandle and the Wichita Mountains in the southwest corner of the state; however most of the lands are given over to wheat fields and livestock grazing.

 

The discovery of oil in the early twentieth century made Oklahoma a wealthy state.  Today however, natural gas is exported in greater volume than crude petroleum.  Oil made the state, however, and remains an anchor for the state’s economy today.

 

Oklahoma City is the capitol and the largest city in the state at about half a million residents.  It is a major regional financial center, a distribution center for livestock and home to many food processing industries.  Oil drilling remains a state activity, with wells situated on the Capitol grounds.  It is one of the largest cities in the country in area: there are 650 square miles within its city limits and it extends into three counties.  To the credit of the city fathers, there are also many major parks in Oklahoma City.

 

Tulsa is the other major city, a municipality of four hundred fifty thousand people.   It was largely created by the oil boom and its economy was built around the drilling, processing, buying and selling of oil and petroleum products.  A downturn in the oil market during the 1980s led the city to begin to diversify its economy.  The aviation and aerospace industries now play a role there as do major federal installations.  Manufacturing has become a mainstay in Tulsa as it has in Oklahoma City, adding more than oil to the state’s non-agrarian economy. 

 

The Tulsa Performing Arts Center occupies half a city block in the old downtown area. Nearby is the Brady Arts District, with a number of after hours attractions as well as galleries.  Oklahoma City plays host to a number of fine arts organizations and government support for the mainstream arts has become an acceptable use of public funds.  Both cities have reached the size and sophistication to support a range of public services and to some extent, lifestyles.  The state has matured socially along with its economic diversification.

 

The University of Oklahoma and Oklahoma State are the two principal public institutions; Oral Roberts University has been a fixture in Tulsa for many years.  The state is a traditional, conservative, deep south deep west state, so to speak.  Nonetheless, the state and its two commercial centers are dedicated to growth, to change and to new economic opportunities. 

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