Oklahoma Is Everywhere and Nowhere On America’s Regional Map
I learned something interesting over the weekend. The experts across the various sciences that edit and provide the general layout of the United State of America have no idea where Oklahoma is or where it actually belongs.
That's not to say people can't pick it out on a map, our state's unique shape is pretty iconic. People who've never been to Oklahoma can identify it on any map. It's that panhandle notoriety, but when it comes to labeling the regions of the US, we appear differently on just about every map.
I'm talking about the regional makeup of the states and how our state can somehow fit every different layout.
Depending on which regional makeup map you look at, Oklahoma is categorized as being located in The Midwest, The South, The Southwest, The Mountain West, The Intermountain Region, and of course, The Central Plains.
Why can't anyone agree on where Oklahoma is in the grand scheme of America?
The only two regional titles never bestowed upon our state are literally The East or The West. We just exist somehow in between and there's no way to solidify our place in this country.
When the government performs a census, Oklahoma is bundled up with The South.
That's understandable in the modern era because it's geographically acceptable. We're on the same plain in two axiis as Arkansas and Texas, but this has led people down a path that Oklahoma's always been "The South."
Here's the rub... Even before statehood, Oklahoma was never "The South," sort of...
A really quick, really abbreviated history of our state during the Civil War goes as follows.
Native American tribes justly felt animosity against the federal government.
Because the enemy of my enemy is my friend, most tribes aligned with the Confederate States of America.
Slavery wasn't a big business in Indian Territory, but tribes held onto their slaves a full year after emancipation, using the issue to claim sovereignty.
There was just as much support for the Union.
Indian Territory was just as divided as the US, but not over states' rights to own slaves... seeking a seat at the bigger table, the grass looked greener on that other side.
Oklahoma is also part of the Intermountain West Region of the United States... according to the pencil-pushers at the National Parks Service.
Oklahoma is even widely believed to be part of the Great Plains... Which I suppose is understandable. We have plains and nobody else can decide where to put us, so why not? But there's a problem with that too.
While Oklahoma does have a portion of the Great Plains, it's the smallest portion you can imagine, highlighted in the graphic below.
The Sooner State isn't nearly as flat and grassy as popularly held beliefs insist.
The list of Oklahoma regional categories goes on...
If you hop on Wikipedia, Oklahoma is included in eleven different sub-regions of America.
Technically, we're part of the American Frontier, High Plains, Central United States, Ozarks, Great American Desert, Interior Plains, Southern United States, Southwestern United States, Great Plains, Tornado Alley, Trans-Mississippi, and the Upland South.
Oklahoma is also lumped into several regional "belts" across America. Some you've heard of, others you haven't... The Bible Belt, The Cotton Belt, and The Sun Belt.
Go back further in history and we were once part of the Spanish Empire, later the French territory of Louisiana, even later Mexico's Nuevo Mexico, and once included in the embarrassingly short-lived failed experiment that was The Republic of Texas.
It's no wonder we're a lost state to the rest of the country.
There lies the great debate. Where do you think Oklahoma fits on the map of regions?