The Character of the Oklahomans Essay

Total Length: 1012 words ( 3 double-spaced pages)

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Oklahoma has only been a state in the U.S. since 1907, yet Oklahomans were around well before then. Oklahoma is known as the “sooner” state because settlers had arrived in the territory before it had even been declared part of the United States. In the first half of the 19th century, the region was part of Arkansas Territory. The Native Americans were forced on the Trail of Tears and made to settle in Indian Territory in modern-day Oklahoma. In the latter half of the 19th century, cattle ranchers from Texas drove their cattle through Indian Territory to states up north and out west, paving cattle trails along the way. More and more whites began to settle in the area as a result of these cattle trails and the expansion of the railroad. Then when oil was found, Oklahoma became a major focus for the oil industry and Tulsa became known as the oil capital of the world for a brief time. However, in the 1930s a terrible drought brought pain and suffering to Oklahomans: this was known as the Dust Bowl and it caused many farmers in the state to leave their homes and travel out west. After WWII, Oklahoma became a place where many conservation plans were put into effect: many dams and lakes were created and reservoirs helped to support farming. In 1995, tragedy struck once more as a homegrown terrorist attack on the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building killed more than 150 people, and Oklahomans again had to show their grit and tenacity in facing disaster.
This paper will show how the character of the Oklahomans has been through a lot in the last 100 years—and why, as Helen Keller points out, “Character cannot be developed in ease and quiet. Only through experience of trial and suffering can the soul be strengthened, ambition inspired, and success achieved.”

Oklahomans have faced several trails. From the early days when they were farming to the middle of the century when they were focusing on conservation to the end of the 20th century when they were dealing with the grief and sorrow of being the victim of a terrorist attack, the people of this state have always found a way to survive and thrive. The Dust Bowl was one of the first times the strength and character of the Oklahomans was really put to the test. The Dust Bowl killed off crops and forced farmers into poverty. Many of them had to escape west just to survive. Their story was even preserved by the American author John Steinbeck in the novel The Grapes of Wrath, which told about the Okies moving to California. Half a million Oklahomans migrated west during the Dust Bowl but they did not find life any easier in California. As History (2009) notes, “Okies faced discrimination, menial labor and pitiable wages upon reaching California. Many of them lived….....

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Clinton, B. (1995). Oklahoma City Memorial Speech. Retrieved from

History. (2009). Dust bowl. Retrieved from

Oklahoma Conservation Commission. (2017). Conservation programs. Retrieved from

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