Monday, November 16, 2009

Oklahoma, You're OK

Magnet # 94: Oklahoma Letters

Material: Rubber

Purchased By: Nanny

Today marks the 102nd anniversary of the day Oklahoma gained its statehood in 1907. This followed years of the area being used as a relocation spot for Native Americans, most notoriously as the last stop on the Trail of Tears, and the inevitable arrival of white settlers. Cowboys first encroached on the area as they drove cattle north to Kansas from Texas, eventually setting up ranches there to aid in the process, sometimes illegally. Before long, the government intervened and set aside more land to be settled by Americans in land runs, which operated by a first come, first served basis. Often, during these runs, people would cheat and take off into territories sooner than they were allowed, giving the state its nickname: "The Sooner State." Native Americans tried to keep control of their lands, even going so far as to try to establish Oklahoma as a completely Indian state named Oklahoma, and later, as Sequoyah, but their efforts failed. Ironically, their efforts later helped Oklahoma be established as a state. However, Native Americans still inhabit the area, and they even have a Cherokee Heritage Center there, which features a museum focused around the Trail of Tears. I'm glad they still have a presence in modern-day Oklahoma, and would enjoy seeing their Museum someday.

I visited Oklahoma once when we drove north from Dallas to Tulsa. Along the way, we stopped by one of the more touristy landmarks the state has to offer: the Glass House. This is a large restaurant that spans all lanes of one spot on I-44, or the Will Rogers Turnpike, which is appropriate considering they have a statue of Will Rogers displayed at the restaurant. When it was first built in 1958, it was home to a restaurant called the Glass House, but McDonald's has since purchased it and painted the arch, which spans the entire restaurant and is an original feature, yellow, of course. There's also a gift shop there - I have even seen a magnet of the Glass House on the internet - of course, I wasn't collecting magnets then, darnit! We then traveled to a more somber location, the Oklahoma City National Memorial & Museum at what was once the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building. We didn't see the inside of the Museum (it may have not opened yet), but we walked around the reflecting pool and saw the Field of Empty Chairs that stand on one side of it. There are 168, one for each victim who died, and each is inscribed with the name of one of the deceased. They're arranged in nine rows, standing for the nine floors of the building, and each person's chair is on the floor he or she would have been on at the time of the blast. Taking in these and other poignant sights at the Memorial, it's almost impossible not to be moved. If you ever have the opportunity to visit this locale, I recommend it. It's inspiring to see how the state has managed to cope with and remember one of its darkest hours.

We ended up in Tulsa, where my Dad's brother was living at the time. I don't really recall much of that city, only a visit to the local Borders bookstore. Maybe sometime I'll get a chance to go back and see sites there like the Philbrook Museum of Art and the Richardson Asian Art Museum. This state has been the location for some of the most sobering moments in our country's history, but remains optimistic about its future. When I look at all it has to offer, I realize that I've only seen a small amount of Oklahoma and I hope to take another shot at it - the sooner the better.

7 comments:

  1. Goodness I had a hard time finding magnets this weekend. So I have failed, and you will have to settle for a Wesley Poster. They didn't have anything with CA's face on it either! Didn't see a single magnet at the Charlotte Renfest either!

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  2. Nice post. I consider Oklahoma my home away from home, as my family hails from the area.

    I never knew the McDonald's was originally called the "Glass House." Last time I was there they were just boasting about it being the worlds largest Micky D's, which is a bit silly since while the building is large, the actual McDonalds footprint inside isn't all that impressive.

    The Cherokee Heritage Center is a nice place to visit, but is actually only one of many tribes in the area, many of which have their own museums as well. Of course there are also a fair amount of casinos too, as the reservations can run the only legal gambling of the area.

    Another large factor in the development of the state was the discovery of oil. Wells once dotted almost every farm in the area (including both my grandparents) and many hoped to get rich. But with that many straws poking down, usual payments amounted only to small amounts. Many of the original wells turned into monuments of rust, and can still be standing in empty fields.

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  3. Hugs Linz! Aww, I'm sorry to give you such a tough task. But I look forward to getting the poster next time I see ya - what were they thinking, though, not putting CA's lovely face anywhere they could!

    And thanks for the extra info on Oklahoma - sometimes it's tough to know what to say, especially if your travels to a locale are limited. I was wondering how many Native American tribes were still there. I really appreciate the extra input!

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  4. Poor Lindsay. Even the local Cracker Barrel was magnet free. I can vouch that when she wasn't distracted by the pretty outfits for Morgan, she did try looking for something to enable your addiction. ;-)

    Wiki lists about 65 or so tribes in the state. Not certain how many of those are really active, and some tribes have really large areas and do a lot in their communities (my cousin worked at the Creek Tribal center as a nurse), while others have small sections and are pretty much just the name.

    Do a google search for "oklahoma tribal map" and you can get an idea of where the major tribes settled.

    (ooh, I think I finally figured out how to get it to recognize my account)

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  5. Thanks - you know, it never occurred to me to give that a try. Maybe that kind of thinking can help me in future posts.

    Hope you guys had lots of fun at the premiere, regardless of the wild goose chase for magnets. I'm looking forward to seeing "Wesley" myself someday.

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  6. There is supposed to be a screening down in Savannah in Jan/Feb.

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