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"You're Doing Fine, Oklahoma!"


"You're Doing Fine, Oklahoma!"
Reading Level
     edHelper's suggested reading level:   grades 4 to 6
     Flesch-Kincaid grade level:   8.82

Vocabulary
     challenging words:    diverse, existence, genuine, homesteaders, midwestern, Modern-day, present-day, retelling, settling, short-lived, sooners, stake, brutal, incident, tragedy, archaeologists
     content words:    Native Americans, Mound Builders, Spiro Mound, Francisco Coronado, Robert La Salle, Mississippi River, Louisiana Territory, King Louis XIV, President Thomas Jefferson, Louisiana Purchase


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"You're Doing Fine, Oklahoma!"
By Jayne Ann Williamson
  

1     The words from Rodgers and Hammerstein's musical Oklahoma! continue to ring true today. Our 46th state has a storied past worth retelling through the generations. Stories of hunters, explorers, settlers, and builders of modern cities all contribute to Oklahoma's rich history. The story reaches into the past more than 20,000 years ago and stretches far into the future.
 
2     People have lived on the land now known as Oklahoma longer than in most places. Archaeologists and other scientists have made discoveries that date the earliest inhabitants to around 20,000 years ago. The first people in Oklahoma were Native Americans. The Indians were nomads, people who moved from place to place hunting and gathering food. Fortunately, the shape of Oklahoma's land and its resources helped these early people survive. Seeds, roots, nuts, and berries from shrubs and trees that grew here provided food. The plains and prairies of Oklahoma provided open space and grass necessary for the survival of large animals such as buffalo and an early type of elephant known as the mammoth. These animals supplied fresh meat for the Indians. Caves and overhanging rocks provided shelter and protection from harsh weather and the threat of attack.
 
3     An important discovery was made thousands of years later when the natives found that seeds, originally gathered for food, could be planted and grown into new plants. This allowed them to stay in one place longer. Farming in Oklahoma was born. Planting crops, building permanent shelters, and making better weapons aided the nomads in a better life.
 
4     One such farming group called the Mound Builders was known as excellent planners and builders. A large mound of earth located in eastern Oklahoma was excavated in the 1930s. Scientists called it Spiro Mound, after the people who built it. It was made of logs and tons of earth. Important artifacts including pottery, carved figures, baskets, cloth, and weapons were found inside. Researchers were able to determine that the Spiro people were farmers who lived in large communities. They also learned that the Spiro people traded goods with other people. For reasons still unknown today, the Mound Builders mysteriously disappeared from this area.
 
5     Shortly after the Mound Builders disappeared from Oklahoma, Spanish and French explorers came to America. Hearing stories of Indian cities made of gold, one such explorer, Francisco Coronado, planned an expedition to look for these cities. His 1541 journey of exploration led him across the Panhandle of Oklahoma. Though he never found the golden cities, he claimed the land in the name of Spain. In 1682 Robert La Salle, a French explorer, led an expedition of 41 men south down the Mississippi River to the Gulf of Mexico. He claimed the land west of the Mississippi for the king of France. This claim included what is now present-day Oklahoma. The land was known as the Louisiana Territory in honor of King Louis XIV of France. In 1803, President Thomas Jefferson bought this land from France. The Louisiana Purchase, as it was called, doubled the area of the United States.

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