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First Europeans in Oklahoma


Picture of Oklahoma
Picture of Oklahoma

The Spanish were the first Europeans to visit Oklahoma. From their bases in Mexico and the Caribbean, Spanish explorers called conquistadors explored the present-day southern United States during the mid-1500s in search of gold and silver. Francisco Vásquez de Coronado crossed western Oklahoma in 1541 searching for the Seven Cities of Cíbola, Cale, and Quivira, which he believed to be wealthy kingdoms. To Coronado’s great disappointment, Quivira proved to be a Wichita community in what is now Kansas. In 1601 Juan de Oñate, the founder of the Spanish colony of New Mexico, also led parties from Spanish settlements on the Río Grande east along the Canadian River, exploring north to the Arkansas River and south into the Wichita Mountains.

The French


The French entered the Southwest following the explorations of René-Robert Cavelier, Sieur de La Salle, in the 1680s. In 1682 La Salle claimed all the land drained by the Mississippi River (including present-day Oklahoma) for Louis XIV, king of France, and named the region Louisiane (in English, Louisiana). French fur traders then moved into Oklahoma along the Red and the Arkansas rivers. In 1719 Bernard de la Harpe established military posts and trading stations in Oklahoma. Among the better-known French settlements were Fernandina on the Arkansas River in northern Oklahoma and the villages of San Bernardo and San Teodoro on the Red River in the south.

At the close of the French and Indian War (1754-1763), the last in a series of wars between Great Britain and France for domination in North America, France ceded Louisiana to Spain to avoid losing the land to Britain. Little changed in the administration of Louisiana while in Spanish hands, and French fur traders continued doing business with the native peoples of Oklahoma.

In 1800 France regained the Louisiana Territory and then sold it to the United States in 1803. In 1819 Spain and the United States negotiated the Adams-Onis Treaty, which defined the boundary separating the territory of these two nations in the Southwest. A portion of this boundary, the Red River and the 100th meridian, became the southern and western boundary of the present state of Oklahoma. "Oklahoma" © Emmanuel BUCHOT, Encarta, Wikipedia

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