Oklahoma: Irrigation and an Oil Boom

Irrigation and an Oil Boom

Large state and federal programs for conserving river water and, at the same time, meeting irrigation needs have resulted in such constructions as the reservoir impounded by the Kerr Dam on the Arkansas River. For the most part, these programs resulted in improved agricultural conditions and created new recreation areas. In 1971 the opening of the Oklahoma portion of the Arkansas River Navigation System gave the cities of Muskogee and Tulsa (at its port Catoosa) direct access to the sea.

Oklahoma experienced another boom during the 1970s when oil prices rose dramatically. In the mid-1980s, however, Oklahoma's economy was hurt (as it had been in the 1930s) by dependence on a single industry, as oil prices fell rapidly. In the eary 21st cent., earthquakes in N and cental Oklahoma, due to the effects of injecting drilling wastewater deep underground, have become common and on occasion damaging.

In 1994, Republican Frank Keating won the governorship; he was reelected in 1998, only the fourth governor and the first Republican at that time to win two consecutive terms. Democrat Brad Henry narrowly won the office in the 2002 election and retained it in 2006. Conservative Republican Mary Fallin (2011-19) was the first woman to win the governorship. Republican Kevin Stitt (2019- ) of the Cherokee nation was the first active tribal member elected governor and the second Native American after Johnston Murray to serve in this position. In a 2020 decision involving major crimes jurisdiction within the boundaries of the Creek reservation, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the reservation had never been disestablished and continued to exist; the decision, which did not affect property ownership, had similar implications for other reservations in what was Indian Territory in 1907 and now forms much of E Oklahoma.

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