Oklahoma: Brand New State — Gonna Treat You Great!

On November 16 in 1907, Oklahoma Territory and Indian Territory joined the United States.  The area became the country’s 46th state of Oklahoma, a state that appears often in popular culture.

Much of Oklahoma’s pre-state history includes significant events that have been portrayed on film. Such incidents include the arrival of Native Americans forcibly moved to the territory along the Trail of Tears and the big land rush with its early arrivals that provide the name of the University of Oklahoma football team, the Sooners.

The Oklahoma Land Rush & Far and Away

Regarding the 1889 land rush, one sees it famously portrayed in movies such as Cimarron (1931) and Far and Away (1992). Check out the scene from Far and Away below.

Oklahoma!

While there are plenty of songs relating to the United States becoming a country, one is challenged to think of a memorable song about a territory becoming a state, with one exception. Oklahoma not only has an entire musical set in its final days as a territory, the play and movie versions end with a salute to the territory’s impending statehood.

Even if you are not a fan of musicals, you probably know and can sing along with the song “Oklahoma!” from the Broadway play and movie Oklahoma! The play was the first musical written by the team of Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II. It is more than OK.

The classic movie Oklahoma! (1955) starred Gordon MacRae and Shirley Jones. A 1999 version of the musical starred Hugh Jackman and Josefina Gabrielle. You may compare the 1999 version of the same scene as above.

Finally, the 1955 movie has the honor of featuring a rare song about a territory becoming a state, but it is also a rare movie musical that itself is mentioned in a popular song. The 1971 album Muswell Hillbillies by The Kinks features the song “Oklahoma USA,” written by Ray Davies. In the song, a young woman reflects on her boring working-class life: “But in her dreams she is far away/ In Oklahoma U.S.A./ With Shirley Jones and Gordon MacRae.”

In honor of the anniversary of Oklahoma’s statehood, we hope that at least for a day you can escape work and can get out in the open and breathe some fresh air. And we hope you’re doing fine.

What is your favorite movie or song about a state’s early days? Leave your two cents in the comments.

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    2 thoughts on “Oklahoma: Brand New State — Gonna Treat You Great!”

    1. I had no idea that it was about the territory becoming a state. I was Laurie in our sixth grade production of Oklahoma. I must say, Annie Oakley is more fun to play, but it was the last time I was a lead in anything so I’ll take it. I have seen both movie versions because I love the music (mostly for nostalgic reasons, I suppose). The story itself, it’s just OK.

      1. Nice story, and I agree that the music is what made “Oklahoma” so memorable. Thanks for the comment.

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