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Though the area was settled by native tribes before the 1800s, Oklahoma’s Native American population rose drastically in 1836, when President Andrew Jackson forced members of the Five Civilized Tribes (Cherokee, Choctaw, Chickasaw, Creek and Seminole) in Georgia to relocate by way of the Trail of Tears. One of the settlements they built was Tallahassee, along the Arkansas River, which is now downtown Tulsa.
Though the Oklahoma region was supposedly to be set aside for Native Americans for perpetuity, the United States government opened up the territory for settlement in 1889, which led to an influx of settlers to every part of the future state. By the time Tulsa was incorporated as a city in 1898, it had over 1000 residents and served as a center for the growing cattle trade, as the town had gotten a railroad station in 1879.
Tulsa experienced another economic boom in 1901 when oil was discovered at Red Fork, just across the river from Tulsa. The city became known as the Oil Capital of the World. Unfortunately, the development led to the pollution of the Arkansas River, and Tulsa had to build a new system to bring water from the Spavinaw Hills. After World War II, Tulsa’s oil output began to decline, but aerospace and aircraft businesses were setting up headquarters in the city, so the economy continued to flourish. Today, there are more than 300 aviation-related companies in Tulsa, along with international corporations offering a wide range of products and services.