Trade In Your Spurs for A Lesson on Sooners and Oklahoma’s First Americans!
As you leave the great state of Texas, you’ll make your way to the Sooner State. Here you’ll learn the stories of the Sooners and Oklahoma’s First Americans. Are you ready for an epic adventure that highlights the first people to inhabit the land?
What is A Sooner?
Before we go any further with the “Cowboys, Indians, and All That Jazz” itinerary, let’s answer everyone’s burning question. What is a “Sooner?”
A Little Bit of History
On April 22, 1889, at 12:00 noon, 50,000 hopeful homesteaders prepared to rush into the “Unassigned Lands” and stake their claims on nearly 2 million acres of free terrain. Those who jumped the gun (literally) and entered the territory too soon became known as the “Sooners.”
Related Reading: Why is Oklahoma Nicknamed the Sooner State?
Oklahoma’s First Americans
Of course, these settlers weren’t the first to occupy the land. Oklahoma has a rich history of Native American culture. Tribes included the Cherokee Nation, Chickasaw Nation, Fort Sill Apache Tribe, Seminole Nation, and many others.
The Chickasaw Cultural Center in Sulphur, OK tells the stories of the Chickasaw people and how they’ve helped to shape our common history. The center is a breathtaking architectural design that blends seamlessly with the landscape.
Here you’ll find gorgeous grounds, exhibits, archives and research, traditional village, theater, Spirit Forest, dining, and shopping. Each is dedicated to celebrating “the vision, resilience, and spirit of the men, women, and children of the Chickasaw Nation” – Gov. Bill Anoatubby.
Dig A Little Deeper
Just about an hour’s drive from Sulphur is the First Americans Museum in Oklahoma City. It’s a brand-new facility sharing tales of tribal tragedy and triumph.
The First Americans Museum will not officially open until September of 2021, but you can dig a little deeper into the story now. The collective histories of 39 tribes (both native and relocated) are highlighted through living stories, culture, and art.
Halito! (Choctaw for Hello!)
A hearty “Halito” greets you as you enter the state-of-the-art Choctaw Cultural Center situated on picturesque prairie lands. Choctaw history and culture are on full display at this immersive experience. Exhibits, workshops, an activity center, and a living village encourage a deeper exploration and understanding of the Choctaw Nation.
Time for A Treat
If your western wanderlust hasn’t waned yet, take time to stop at Bedré Fine Chocolate, the only Native American-owned chocolate company in the world. These luxury treats reflect the traditions of the people who first cultivated chocolate as the delicacy we know and love. You can watch through floor-to-ceiling glass windows as the scrumptious tidbits are created – including everyone’s favorite chocolate-covered potato chips!
There are more great stops on the “Cowboys, Indians, and All That Jazz” tour to explore while you’re in Oklahoma. If you want to find out more about this epic adventure, check out the latest DBE podcast episode with host Stevie G., Todd Stallbaumer from Travel Oklahoma, and Sandy Price from Visit OK.
Your time in Oklahoma is a great prelude to the final phase of the south-central itinerary -the mysterious swamps of Louisiana. The Acadian culture is waiting to warmly welcome you…