Oklahoma celebrates centennial year
Friday, October 26, 2007
By Kimberly Sikes
Nov. 16, 1907, Oklahoma became the 46th state in the nation and since
Nov. 2006, Oklahoma has been celebrating its 100th year as a state.
Oklahoma Christian University is taking part in the Centennial
Celebrations, along with the rest of the state, by incorporating
statehood into the year’s homecoming theme, “OklaHomecoming.”
“We chose the theme OklaHomecoming to tie in to the Centennial
Celebration, and this year homecoming falls on the week before
Oklahoma’s 100th birthday,” Director of Alumni Relations Michael
Oklahoma Christian’s homecoming celebration is just one of many
activities across the state that has been planned to focus on
Oklahoma’s history and heritage during its centennial year. All of the
activities in direct relation to the Oklahoma Centennial Commemoration
are being planned and executed by the state agency, Oklahoma Capitol
Complex and Centennial Commemoration Commission.
According to the Oklahoma Centennial web site, a 42-member board made
up of citizens, legislators, state agency directors and mayors guides
the Centennial Commission.
Plans for Centennial Projects stretch across the 77 Oklahoma
Counties. These Centennial Projects are intended to commemorate and
honor Oklahoma’s statehood as well as to entertain.
One of these projects is the building of Lawson’s Commons on Oklahoma Christian’s campus.
Though the clock tower was already scheduled to be built,
designating it as a Centennial Project was “our way of participating in
Oklahoma’s Centennial Celebrations,” Mitchell said.
Since Oklahoma was added to the Union so late in the United State’s
history, there is a rich historical background in Oklahoma’s journey to
statehood. This journey is what makes Oklahoma’s centennial so
interesting and relevant to so many people.
The land that is now Oklahoma was purchased by the United States in
1803 as part of the Louisiana Purchase. The territory was reorganized
into smaller districts and by 1819, all but the panhandle of Oklahoma
was part of Arkansas Territory.
In the early 1800s, the United States Government removed Native
Americans from around the United States to Oklahoma Territory and in
1828, required settlers to move from the area.
Between 1830 and 1842, the Cherokee, Chickasaw, Choctaw, Creek and
Seminole Tribes were forced to follow the “Trail of Tears” and move
from their homelands to be relocated in Oklahoma Territory.
By 1889, the territory was split and the western half was opened to
settlers. On March 2, 1890, this land was designated as Oklahoma
Territory with Guthrie as the capitol.
The Five Civilized Tribes drew up a constitution to make Indian
Territory, the eastern half of Oklahoma, a separate state called
However, Congress did not accept the Indian Territory as a separate
state and representatives from both territories met in 1906 to create a
new constitution that combined them both as the 46th state in the
The state capitol moved to Oklahoma City in 1910, just three years after Oklahoma became a state.
As the state’s first capital, Guthrie is hosting historical
reenactments of the presidential proclamation of statehood, the
inauguration of the first governor and an inaugural parade on Statehood
Day, Nov. 16, 2007. Public schools across the state will be closed on
Oklahoma’s distinct Native American heritage is not being forgotten
and the Centennial Celebrations work to showcase the state’s distinct
Many tribes are holding special celebrations in addition to their
yearly cultural gatherings and there will be a showcase of Oklahoma
writers at bookstores along with a National Conference of Tribal
The big challenge for the homecoming committee with making the theme
“OklaHomecoming” a part of the centennial celebration, was making sure
it would be different from last year’s theme, Western Homecoming on the
“We decided to make it a big birthday celebration,” Mitchell said. “On
Friday, the banquet is like a big birthday party for Oklahoma and in
the evening we have ‘Rock the Lawn.’ It will be held on the University
House lawn and is a big centennial fireworks show.”
Student Alumni Council President Amber Grubb has planned several of
the activities for this year’s Homecoming, including Red Dirt Day and
the Battle of the Bands concert.
Red Dirt Day will be held on the Tuesday of Homecoming week. The
student body is encouraged to wear red and there will be a barbecue
lunch and birthday cake in the cafeteria.
“It’s been fun to try and think of activities that involve the
students, faculty and alumni that all take place in a week,” Grubb
Even apart from the challenge of making this year’s and last year’s
homecoming themes different, Grubb has had some problems to solve.
“The biggest challenge has been working out a way to afford the
concert on Friday night,” Grubb said. “I wanted to do a huge event, not
a bunch of little ones. It has required cooperation from everyone to
make it happen.”
The band that wins the Battle of the Bands competition will be opening for Ingram Hill during the concert on Friday night.