President Teddy Roosevelt and the OSSAA

Contributing Writer

Painting by Mike Wimmer
STATEHOOD SIGNING: President Theodore Roosevelt officially signs the Oklahoma Enabling Act on June 16, 1906, which provided for the writing of a constitution for a state to be formed from the merging of Indian and Oklahoma territories.” 

The 2019 Oklahoma high school 6AI football championship games drew some consternation among fans of Owasso and Jenks who had to travel to Edmond on Dec. 7 to see them. Traditionally, the Oklahoma finals would be played in locations nearer to the championship teams.
Mike Brown of the Tulsa World addressed the issue in a Dec. 21, 2019 article when he wrote, “The Oklahoma Football Coaches Association started lobbying the OSSAA (Oklahoma Secondary School Athletic Association) to centralize the championships three years ago. The coaches wanted something similar to the Texas model, where 12 title games are being played over four days in the Dallas Cowboys’ AT&T Stadium in Arlington.”
Brown added, “Just six days after the Dec. 7 game, State Senator J.J. Dossett, D-Sperry, filed legislation that would give responsibility to competing schools – and not the OSSAA – for determining championship sites.”
Moving the championship games to central Oklahoma is another loss for the eastern part of the state, known before statehood as Indian Territory
Oklahoma received its statehood in 1907 when President Theodore Roosevelt signed the statehood proclamation. Before statehood, what is now the state of Oklahoma was to be two states made up of Oklahoma Territory to the west and Indian Territory to the east. Today, Oklahoma City is in what was Oklahoma Territory and Tulsa is in what was Indian Territory.
In explaining the formation of statehood, Linda Wilson of the Oklahoma Historical Society writes, “Several events in the 1890s brought I.T. closer to statehood. In 1893 the Indian Appropriation Bill called for the Dawes Commission to meet with the Five Tribes to start the allotment process. Through the Atoka Agreement, ratified in 1897, the Choctaw and Chickasaw Nations agreed to take their lands in severalty. In 1898, Congress passed the Curtis Act, which called for the abolishment of tribal governments on March 4, 1906. Realizing that their governments would soon be defunct, leaders of the Five Tribes convened the Sequoyah Convention in August 1905 in Muskogee to write a constitution, and a memorial to Congress for separate statehood for I.T.
“The Sequoyah Convention constitution was not acknowledged by the U.S. Congress, due to party politics. Indian Territory was bordered by two southern Democratic states, Arkansas to the east and Texas to the south. Consequently, President Roosevelt, a Republican, and the Republican-controlled Congress wanted joint statehood to eliminate the possibility of I.T. joining the Union as a Democratic state. On June 16, 1906, he signed the Oklahoma Enabling Act, which provided for the writing of a constitution for a state to be formed from the merging of Indian and Oklahoma territories.” 
The result of the merger of the two territories was a plus for the Oklahoma Territory side which was awarded the state capital in Oklahoma City and the two major state universities in Norman and Stillwater. The Indian Territory side was awarded the state prison in McAlester.
And, most recently, apparently the Oklahoma Territory side will inherit all of the state football championship games.

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