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Joe Lunardi offers critical update on NCAA Tournament fate of Oklahoma, Michigan State

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Joe Lunardi offers critical update on NCAA Tournament fate of Oklahoma, Michigan State


Oklahoma and Michigan State will be sweating it out on Selection Sunday. According to ESPN bracketology expert Joe Lunardi, the Sooners and Spartans are among the “last four in” on the NCAA Tournament bubble following Saturday’s early conference tournament results.

OU and MSU will be rooting hard for North Carolina and Colorado to win their respective conference championships. Both NC State and Oregon, who will face the Tar Heels and Buffaloes, are among the “next four out” according to Lunardi but would steal an automatic bid with wins.

Oklahoma is coming off of a 20-12 finish but has dropped six of its past eight games to end the year. The Sooners have quality victories against quad 1 teams such as Iowa State and Cincinnati.

Meanwhile, Michigan State ended its season 19-14 after falling to Purdue in the Big Ten Tournament. The Spartans have not missed an NCAA Tournament since 1997, and their 25-season streak is the longest active in college basketball.

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OU has not made an NCAA Tournament since Porter Moser took over in the 2021-22 season. The Sooners began the season 13-1 but had a rough close to the year in Big 12 play that has now thrown their March Madness hopes in question.

If Oklahoma and Michigan State are indeed among the last four teams to make the NCAA Tournament, they would both compete in a play-in game to set the field at 64. Both will find out their fates when the field is announced at 6 p.m. ET Sunday on CBS.



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Oklahoma Land Run anniversary: What to know about rocky history, Bricktown sculpture updates

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Oklahoma Land Run anniversary: What to know about rocky history, Bricktown sculpture updates


Over 130 years ago this month, thousands of settlers rushed to stake their claim of 160 acres in the so-called “unassigned lands” of Oklahoma territory, marking the beginning of what would eventually become the state of Oklahoma.

That event, which started on April 22, 1889, is also a source of generational trauma for many Oklahoma tribal members, who are reminded by the 1889 Oklahoma Land Run of their ancestors’ forcible removal here. There are 39 federally recognized tribes based in Oklahoma today, many of whom were granted or sold land that was a fraction of the areas they previously occupied for centuries.

Since their removal, they have endured decades of hardship, from boarding schools where students were forced to cut their hair, only speak English and were often abused, to continued loss of land through government allotments and subsequent land runs, and suppression of tribal sovereignty.

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Here’s what to know about the 1889 land run, how it originated, and the effects it still has today.

Oklahoma Land Rush: Where did ‘Unassigned Lands’ come from?

The land, nearly 1.9 million acres, was deemed open for settlement 23 years after the Five Tribes (Cherokee, Choctaw, Chickasaw, Muscogee/Creek, and Seminole) signed new treaties with the United States in 1866, according to the Oklahoma Historical Society.

The tribes ceded portions of their land — along with agreeing to end slavery, allow railroads to enter the area and grant former slaves full tribal citizenship — after signing treaties with and fighting for the Confederacy during the Civil War.

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Much of that land was used to remove other tribes to the area, the Oklahoma Historical Society said, including the Cheyenne, Arapaho, Kiowa, Comanche and others.

But a large portion of land in the center of the state remained empty, and was eventually deemed “unassigned.” There were campaigns to open the land up for settlement, but because of stipulations in 1866 treaties with the Creek and Seminole, the land was supposed to be used only for re-settlement of other native tribes.

But in 1889, the Creek and Seminole tribes presented proposals to relinquish any claim they previously had on the land, placing the land in the public domain.

The legal basis for opening the Oklahoma District, now called the Unassigned Lands, came

So in 1889, in the U.S. Congress amended the Indian Appropriations Bill to authorize President Benjamin Harrison to proclaim the two-million-acre region open for settlement. That spring, would-be settlers flooded the area in preparation, and on April 22, 1889, guns and cannons went off at noon, marking the “opening” of Oklahoma for non-native settlement.

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Changes coming near Oklahoma City land run monument

For decades, the land run has been celebrated and even re-enacted at elementary schools. But those events have drawn protest from groups like the Society to Protect Indigenous Rights and Indigenous Treaties (SPIRIT), and many schools have stopped the practice.

But a permanent, bronze, larger-than-life monument to the land run stands tall in Lower Bricktown. A set of 45 statues depicts the event, stretching 365 feet across the southern end of the Bricktown Canal.

The monument, created by Oklahoma artist and citizen of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation Paul Moore, has been the recipient of protest since 2007 when SPIRIT formed to oppose centennial statehood celebrations.

The group again protested the monument and its heroic depiction of land run participants during the summer of 2020 and the racial reckoning which was bringing down monuments across the nation that honored people like Christopher Columbus and Confederate Army generals.

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The group met with Oklahoma City Mayor David Holt, who rejected a proposal to tear down the monument completely but helped connect the group with the late city arts liaison Robbie Kienzle.

Since then, the group and the city have been working together to provide more context to the monument, specifically from the perspective of indigenous peoples. A report was presented in 2022 to the Oklahoma City Arts Commission — compiled by mother-and-son Anita Fields, who is Osage and Muscogee, and Yatika Fields, who is Osage, Muscogee and Cherokee — which determined the monument is one-sided and “hurtful” to Oklahoma’s Indigenous communities.

Randy Marks, Oklahoma City’s Arts Program Planner, said the city expects to announce within the next three months a Request for Proposals for a “cultural exhibit” that will be adjacent to the land run monument.

“The exhibit will convey an indigenous perspective on the indigenous cultural and historical context leading up to and including the land run event,” Marks said.



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D1Baseball Top 25: A&M remains No. 1, Oklahoma headlines three new entrants • D1Baseball

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D1Baseball Top 25: A&M remains No. 1, Oklahoma headlines three new entrants • D1Baseball


Rankings

• COLLEGE TOP 100 DRAFT PROSPECTS
• Check out D1Baseball’s PreD1ctive Picks
• Last week’s D1Baseball Top 25 Results
• National Statistical Leaderboards
• Discuss the latest rankings on our Forums
• Week 10 Scores: Friday | Saturday | Sunday


Texas A&M remains No. 1 in the D1Baseball Top 25 for the second straight week after winning a road series at Alabama. The SEC occupies the top four spots in the rankings, as Arkansas holds steady at No. 2 after a road series win at South Carolina, and Tennessee moves up a spot to No. 3 after taking two of three at Kentucky, which falls one place to No. 4.

ACC teams occupy four of the next six spots: No. 5 Clemson, No. 6 Duke, No. 8 Wake Forest and No. 10 Florida State. The Demon Deacons made the biggest move of that group, moving up four spots to No. 8 after winning a hard-fought series against the Seminoles. East Carolina moves up two spots to No. 7, and Oregon State falls four spots to No. 9 after a 1-4 week.

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Big climbers this week include UC Irvine (up five spots to No. 12), Coastal Carolina (up six spots to No. 13), Arizona (up five spots to No. 16) and Georgia (up four spots to No. 20).

Three teams enter the rankings this week: Oklahoma leaps back into the Top 25 at No. 18 after sweeping BYU to open up a three-game lead atop the Big 12 standings. NC State returns to the rankings at No. 21 after taking a series from rival North Carolina, on week after the Wolfpack won a series at Clemson. And Indiana State makes its season debut in the Top 25 after winning a series against Illinois State, the 15th straight conference series win for the Sycamores (dating back to the end of the 2022 season).

West Virginia, Virginia Tech and Dallas Baptist fall out of the rankings after losing their weekends.

D1Baseball editors and national writers determine the Top 25 rankings. Records are through games of April 21.




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Oklahoma politics launched with constitutional chaos

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Oklahoma politics launched with constitutional chaos


Oklahoma Constitutional chaos
William H. “Alfalfa Bill” Murray, left, served as speaker of the Oklahoma Constitutional Convention in November 1906 in Guthrie. (Oklahoma Historical Society)

If you haven’t been paying attention, the Oklahoma Legislature is back in session and headed for its homestretch. Look at all the cowboy hats.

The governor, the attorney general and the “education” guy are in place and doing their respective things. Here, one may say, we are going again.

Throw in negotiations with sovereign tribal nations, and we’re guaranteed snits, spats and to-dos aplenty. Sometimes I feel sorry for my son, who covers the Capitol every week and writes some sort of newsletter, among other things.

Of course, if the Oklahoma Legislature looks like chaos — well, that’s how our state got started at the turn of the last century.

A microcosm of our initial population?

First, when America furthered its frontier West into more and more Indigenous territory, the area had land runs. Chaos on the hoof. Then, the white folks started calling for statehood. Eleven years passed before there were enough people living here for the place to qualify.

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Republicans were in control in Washington, and their feet dragged on the question of statehood because they feared Oklahoma would be a Democratic stronghold, and they wanted time to build Republican power here, via political appointments and whatnot.

So, we were tools before we were tools.

Anyhow, along came the Oklahoma Enabling Act of June 16, 1906, which wrote the recipe to be followed in the creation of a new state.

The so-called Twin Territories — Oklahoma and Indian — were to be joined, and each would send 55 delegates (plus two from the Osage Nation) to a constitutional convention in Guthrie, a Republican outpost that was, according to the Enabling Act, to be the state’s capital until at least 1913.

The convention first met on Nov. 20, 1906. Of the 112 delegates, 100 were Democrats, and that was it for Republicans until the first coming of Henry Bellmon.

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About the delegates, we know this: Their average age was 43. Among them stood 47 farmers, 27 lawyers, 12 businessmen, six preachers, three teachers, two physicians and one student. Besides them, the wag would say, 14 other people with no visible means of support also attended.

Was that a microcosm of our initial population? Hard to say. I am told even fewer lawyers and physicians serve in the Legislature now, but the teacher and preacher numbers have climbed.

A populist fear of centralized power

The president of the 1906 constitutional convention was none other than that soon-to-be nationally known bigot, crackpot and whatnot named William H. “Alfalfa Bill” Murray.

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Alfalfa Bill MurrayAlfalfa Bill Murray

History is clear: Alfalfa Bill Murray was a terrible bigot by William W. Savage Jr.

He began the proceedings by having the delegates join together in singing Nearer, My God to Thee, the hymn that would be played six years later on the deck of the sinking Titanic.

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Perhaps Murray had a premonition, and not about a big boat.

The convention produced a 45,000-word constitution that President Theodore Roosevelt hated because Democrats had written it, but no legal reason existed for rejecting it because the document followed the stipulations of the Enabling Act to the letter. (I forbear particulars, except to note that in Oklahoma you cannot have more than one spouse at a time. Having them serially is another matter, but the Legislature works on that, from time to time.)

The Oklahoma Constitution was praised for its populist and progressive content, with many provisions limiting centralized control and empowering the Legislature as the institution most responsive to the will of the people.

Scholars wrote about it, but nit-pickers were not silent, complaining that the document was too detailed. Good grief, the thing even specified the flash point of kerosene, a provision designed to prevent corporate greed error that could result in towns burning to the ground if it were cut with cheaper fuels. Such atrocity had happened elsewhere.

A constitutional convention redo? Be careful what you wish for

From time to time, the electorate is invited to help remove outdated parts of the Oklahoma Constitution.

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I recall the election in which the section requiring state payments to widows of Civil War veterans was excised. Someone had noticed that, on account of the passage of time, there were no such widows left.

Over the decades, voters have been asked to decide several questions related to the Oklahoma Constitution, which has been amended more than 200 times. In recent years, we have voted on liquor laws (twice), marijuana laws (twice, to different results), the separation of church and state, expanding Medicaid coverage, modifying school funding options, and whether to elect the governor and lieutenant governor jointly.

The results have hardly painted a straight ideological line.

I learned recently that Cherokee Nation citizens will be asked this June whether to call their own convention for revision of the tribe’s constitution. Various Oklahoma political factions sometimes float the idea of a new state constitutional convention as well.

If the state were to have a new constitutional convention, every moron in America with something to suggest would show up and try to participate, just as Carry Nation lobbied the original convention to prohibit consumption of alcohol. Ultimately, Gov. Charles Haskell successfully pushed the proposal as a separate article to be approved months later, and prohibition continued in Oklahoma for a quarter of a century after the rest of the country had reversed course.

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By that measure, our path to Medicaid expansion felt relatively quick. Nonetheless, calling a new constitutional convention in Oklahoma would revive the recipe for chaos, to be sure. These days, 45,000 words would hardly do it.

In the meantime, perhaps the best we can hope for is legislators whose mothers taught them it’s impolite to wear your cowboy hat in the House — or the Senate.





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