Oklahoma Day is an annual state holiday celebrated on April 22 in the United States. It commemorates the date in 1889 when the Oklahoma region became open to European settlement. The celebrations on April 22, also known as Oklahoma 89ers Day, are centered on Guthrie, the original land office about 80 miles from the starting line. The original participants, known as the “89ers,” reenacted the land rush in 1915, and Guthrie commemorates the event each year with an 89ers celebration. Parades and festivities are held in some areas of Oklahoma to commemorate the day.
History of Oklahoma Day
People have lived in what is now Oklahoma since the end of the last ice age. Permanent villages, such as the Spiro-mounds, existed around 850 A.D. European explorers first visited the area in the 16th century.
The Louisiana Purchase, which took place in 1803, made the land a part of the United States. Even though the territory was previously occupied by the Osage and Quapaw people, the ‘Indian Removal Act of 1830’ and the ‘Indian Intercourse Act of 1834’ forced thousands of Native Americans from their ancestral lands and transferred them to Oklahoma. The Trail of Tears National Historic Trail spans nine states and tells the story of Cherokees, Chickasaws, Choctaws, Creeks, and Seminoles who were forcibly removed from their homelands.
In the mid-19th century, ranchers in Texas and Kansas struggled to meet the food demands of the great cities. ‘The Dawes Act’ was passed in 1887 as a result of the push to make more land available for farming, removing Native Americans’ control of much of Oklahoma’s territory. From April 22, 1889, this territory was offered to European immigrants. Several counties in Oklahoma were available for colonization by Land Run in 1889. Only after a specified time, typically by noon on a specific date, could settlers claim quarter-acre plots of land. Oklahoma Day commemorates the anniversary of this date. On November 16, 1907, Congress conferred statehood.
Oklahoma Day timeline
President Andrew Jackson signs the ‘Indian Removal Act’ into law.
Washington Irving sets off on a month-long tour through Indian Territory (present-day Oklahoma), in the fall season.
Senator Henry L. Dawes of Massachusetts champions the ‘General Allotment Act,’ which allows the federal government the right to divide up communally held Native land and assign it to tribal individuals.
The land run marks the beginning of the legal settlement of federally owned land by whites.
Following the merge of more Indian tribe lands into U.S. territory, Oklahoma becomes the 46th American state.
Oklahoma Day FAQs
What is the motto of Oklahoma?
It’s the Latin phrase ‘Labor omnia vincit’ or ‘Labor omnia vincit improbus,’ which means ‘work conquers all.’
During the Trail of Tears, who was president?
Andrew Jackson was the president of the United States during that time.
What is the origin of Oklahoma's name?
The word ‘Oklahoma’ comes from the Choctaw Indian language, and it means ‘red people.’
How to Observe Oklahoma Day
Participate in an Oklahoman state event
There are several different events held throughout the state. Some schools may offer special lessons in the build-up to the holiday, museums may host special exhibitions, and there may even be a concert or two around Oklahoma. Attend any of these events held across the state in celebration of Oklahoma Day.
Read about Oklahoma's history
Learn more about the history of Oklahoma and its people. You can watch a documentary or a movie set in Oklahoma. Make it a family and friends event and watch the movie while eating Oklahoman delicacies.
Take a food road trip to Oklahoma
Take a long drive on the open road in Oklahoma to work up an appetite. Discover the top restaurants in the state and learn about their history. Find adventure in Oklahoma and post it on social media with the hashtag #NationalOklahomaDay or #OklahomaDay.
5 Interesting Facts About Oklahoma
World's largest alabaster deposit
Alabaster Caverns, in Freedom, is the world's largest alabaster deposit.
200 man-made lakes
Except for Oklahoma, which has 200 lakes, no other state has as many man-made lakes.
20th largest American State
Oklahoma is the 20th largest state in the United States, with a total area of 69,903 square miles.
Touches borders with four states
Oklahoma's Cimarron County is the only county in the United States that touches four states: Colorado, New Mexico, Texas, and Kansas.
World's tallest hill
Mount Cavanal, west of Poteau and the world's tallest hill at 1,999 feet, is located in Oklahoma.
Why Oklahoma Day is Important
Oklahoma has a long history
Oklahoma is colloquially referred to as ‘The Sooner State.’ It has a long history and cultural legacy that dates back over 210 years. There are plenty of historic sites to visit, such as the Washita battlefield national historic site, the holy city, and the centenary land run monument.
It's the leading meteorological center
The University of Oklahoma is also located in Oklahoma (O.U.). Aside from the Sooner football team, O.U. is the nation's leading meteorological center. They also have the best collection of Natural History Artifacts in the country, as well as the largest American Indian population of any state.
It is home to many musicians
Oklahoma is well-known for many things, but one of the most notable is the number of talented musicians who have come from the state. Vince Gill, Toby Keith, Roger Miller, Carrie Underwood, Blake Shelton, Patti Page, and Charlie Christian, a jazz electric guitar pioneer, are just a few examples.
Oklahoma Day dates