Explore the Great American West in Frontier Country
CENTRAL OKLAHOMA – Oklahoma’s history is unarguably the most unique of all 50 states, from land runs and boomtowns to the Trail of Tears and the Five Civilized American Indian tribes, Oklahoma symbolizes the heritage of the American Frontier.
To experience the Old West in Frontier Country, tourists and locals can visit museums like the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum, Red Earth Museum and Oklahoma History Center all located in Oklahoma City, plus there’s Western gear shopping and dining at Stockyards City. Outside the Oklahoma City limits see Old West artifacts in the Canadian County Historical Museum in El Reno and Historic Fort Reno, and observe landmarks of the Chisholm Trail in Yukon. Or get involved with Western events like the International Finals Youth Rodeo July 14 to 19 in Shawnee, Bullnanza Aug. 22 to 23 at the Laze E Arena in Guthrie and horseback riding at the Tatanka Ranch in Stroud.
“Oklahoma’s cowboy and American Indian heritage is what the Great American West is all about,” said Eric Oesch, deputy director of Red Earth Museum in Oklahoma City. “Oklahoma is a place where peoples of many different cultures worked to create a state out of nothing. It is a place of Western art, cowboy culture, Indian art, and tribal heritage.
The Western heritage of Oklahoma embodies the pioneering spirit that inspired individuals from all over the world to stake their claim in America’s last frontier.
“Oklahoma is a cowboy state,” said Dan Provo, director of the Oklahoma Museum of History in Oklahoma City. “Many people visiting Oklahoma are surprised at the great amount of history relating to cowboys, ranching and cattle trails in Oklahoma. Most of the major cattle trails of the American West occur in Oklahoma, and the reality of cowboy and ranch life is still fresh and alive in many parts of Oklahoma.”
For a taste of the Old West, travelers should visit the museum located within the Oklahoma History Center for an overview of the state’s cowboy and ranching life, cattle trails and technology, such as chuck wagons and branding.
The National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum in Oklahoma City’s Adventure District offers in-depth collections of cowboy material culture and Native American and Western art. With distinct galleries, gardens, new exhibitions and works of art, this museum is a showcase of the American West. This summer through Sept. 7, the museum’s invitational art exhibit, Prix de West, is one of the American Bus Association’s top events for 2008. Western art lovers will enjoy more than 300 paintings and sculpture by the finest contemporary Western artists in the nation.
Western history buffs will also enjoy touring Historic Fort Reno, which is just west of El Reno on Route 66. The cavalry and infantry fort began as a military camp in 1874 in the Indian Wars Era and played an important role in the transition of the area from Indian Territory status to Oklahoma statehood in 1907. This summer, tourists can hear stories of the restless spirits with unsolved mysteries and murderous tales during its monthly Ghosts of Fort Reno tours at 8 p.m. Saturday nights of July 19, Aug. 16 and Sept. 20. There are also tours and historical reenactments throughout the year.
Oklahomans are very proud of their unique American Indian history. Nearly every tribal headquarters in Oklahoma features a tribal museum or cultural center. All are open to the public where tribal members are eager to share their histories.
In central Oklahoma’s Frontier Country, the Citizen Potawatomi Nation Cultural Heritage Center Shawnee and the Seminole Nation Museum in Wewoka showcase native individual cultures and histories, while the Red Earth Museum exhibits a wide collection of Native American art and historical artifacts. Plus Oklahoma City is the site for the future American Indian Cultural Center & Museum, where under one roof, there will be first-hand accounts from 39 different Tribal Nations and Smithsonian collections of artifacts.
Every June, the Red Earth Native American Cultural Festival in Oklahoma City is the largest event of its kind in the world. Representatives from more than 100 tribes from throughout North America gather to share the rich diversity of their cultures with art and tribal dance.
For more information about Frontier Country’s events and attractions that feature American Indian and Western cultures and to download money-saving “Trips on a Tank Full” admission discounts, visit www.oktourism.com or call (800) FUN-OKLA.
Contact: Emily Reagan, public relations director
Telephone: 405-232-6552E-mail: [email protected]