On April 22, Oklahoma Day is a state holiday that commemorates the day that the Oklahoma territory, also called the Oklahoma Land Rush or Land Run of 1889. On this day, around 50,000 people stood in line to receive a piece of the two million acres being given out. Settlers received up to 160 acres, but actual ownership of this land was delayed until the settler moved to the land and cultivated it. This included some of the most desired unsettled lands in the new territories.
Celebrations feature casual events organized to educate those on Oklahoma history, pride, and the Land Run specifically. Exhibits and concerts may also be part of the celebrations. It is not a highly publicized holiday.
The term “Sooners” came from squatters who traveled to these lands before the opening in order to claim the best choices. As a result, the courts dealt with hundreds of contests, some of which were settled by the Department of the Interior. “Boomers” were the people who simply called for the lands to be opened. The fight song of the University of Oklahoma is inspired by these terms: “Boomer Sooner.”
As a result of the land run, cities of 10,000 were established in less than a day. Motivated to receive land titles, many settlers got right to work improving the territory, opening schools two weeks after the opening of the Land Run. A month later, Oklahoma City featured six newspapers and five banks. The Oklahoma Territory came into being after the Organic Act was passed in 1890.
Oklahoma Fun Facts
- The first woman to claim land in Oklahoma was Nannita Daisey. Legend states that Nannita jumped off the train, claimed her land, and then jumped back on the same train before it passed out of town.
- The Oklahoma Land Run has been made into two Hollywood films: Cimarron in 1931 and its remake in 1960.
- The capitol grounds feature a functioning oil well
- A cowboy monument, “On the Chisholm Trail,” features a statue of a life sized cattle drive in the town of Duncan.
- National figure Will Rogers was born a Cherokee in Oklahoma. He went on to star in Broadway plays and around 71 movies.