5 Oklahoma Myths People Still Believe
In all of my travels, it amazes me just how little people know about our great state. Even our neighbors to the South get a little confused, but by far, it's the people from the two coasts that are really fun to talk to about Oklahoma. Here are the five most common myths I hear about Oklahoma when traveling outside Oklahoma.
Kicking this list off with a bang, and yes, I've had this discussion before. Someone thought there were still disputes and prairie wars with our Native American populations here. They may say it in a way that's far more insensitive, but it was a real question from someone who truly believed Oklahoma was still the Wild West. I remember being confused hearing it, and seeing the gears work behind their eyes telling them how much stronger Oklahoma is being shoulder to shoulder with the various tribes that call this land home. I'd honestly hate to see an economy without that diversity, especially considering how much our tribes contribute to this state. Take the vaccine situation... if it weren't for the tribes opening their health care systems up to the general public, we all might still be waiting on the feds to send more out way. The culture, entertainment, and food are just a few of the things that make Oklahoma truly great.
Yep. I was asked that on a trip to California a few years ago. After talking with this person about how they could think that, it's sort of understandable. By and far, the most famous thing Oklahoma is known for is our tornado season. As news medias big and small have moved beyond reporting factual boring news, there is a narrative created to "spice up ratings" and such all over the country. Apparently, since they are so susceptible to high winds and twisters, torn up mobile home parks are usually the "stock footage" most other places use when talking about a notable tornado from Oklahoma. Luckily, it's been almost ten years since our last record event... we're all hoping that trend that bores meteorologists will continue.
This might actually be the most common thing people from anywhere else ask me. People know Oklahoma for being a very small part of the Great Plains. Honestly, that area doesn't even represent half of this state... but it's probably the most of any one type of topography. If you didn't know, Oklahoma is the most ecologically diverse place on the entire planet. High desert, caprock plateau, mountain ranges, rolling hills, Ozark basin, forests, even alligator swamps. We're just alpine hills and frozen tundra away from having it all, but we'll settle for what we do have. It's not all flat, it's not all plains, and it's not at all "flyover" country.
You may laugh, but I've been asked this more than a few times. City slickers tend to romance the things they see in movies and what they read in books. As such, when I tell people I live in Oklahoma, this is usually the second topic that comes up after our famous weather. People don't quite understand that while Oklahoma may have once been famous for the roaming bison, they were hunted to near extinction everywhere across this country. Now, living near Lawton, you know you can see a few buffalo roam out in the Wichita's, but if that's all you've seen, you have no idea.
There is a handful of places that host herds of bison across the state of Oklahoma, but if you really want to see the buffalo roam, you have to visit the Tall Grass Prairie Pawhuska. You can drive through it just like the wildlife refuge here in the mountains, but you won't see a handful of buffalo wandering around far from the road... In Pawhuska, you'll see herds of thousands all moving around like pack animals. If you've never experienced the prairie storm of bison stampeding across the road in front of you, you haven't experienced the land where buffalo truly roam. That said, it's usually a let down to people asking if they're really everywhere in Oklahoma.
I get it. It's understandable. In movies, the news, tv shows, pop culture, Oklahoma is the land of tornadoes. I don't know about you, but I love watching weather type informational entertainment. It's been that way ever since Twister filmed in my hometown when I was eleven or twelve, and to be honest, more research has been done since then than ever before. That being said, every show about tornadoes out there usually begins in Oklahoma. It's especially weird since Oklahoma isn't at the top of the "States With The Most Tornadoes" list. Technically, we're number four. Texas is number one, any state that big is bound to rule the numbers. Kansas is number two, Florida is number three and we find an average number the next down the list. That being said, Oklahoma has the most violent and biggest tornadoes in the world, which is probably why everyone assumes tornadoes happen all the time, and if you live here, you'll be affected by one.