Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History and Culture

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Held annually in Tulsa since 1980, the Oklahoma Scottish Games and Gathering highlights Scottish heritage and features athletic events, Highland dancing, food, and music. Descended from gatherings and "weapenschaws" once held in Scotland to test soldiers' abilities before battle, Oklahoma's version attracts national and international athletes to compete in events such as the sheaf toss (a weighted burlap bag thrown with a pitchfork), the caber toss (somersaulting a large wooden pole, similar to a telephone pole), the hammer throw, and other Scottish events. There are also dancing, bagpipe playing, and drumming competitions.

Many of the Creek, Cherokee, Choctaw, and Chickasaw people who came to Oklahoma in the 1830s had Scotch and Scotch-Irish ancestry. Later, some tribe members married Scottish immigrants who were seeking land in Oklahoma Territory. As a result, Scottish place names that dot the state include Afton, Glencoe, and McIntosh County. Commemorating this ancestry, Oklahoma has two tartans registered with the Scottish Tartans Society: the Tulsa District Tartan was designed in 1978, and the official Oklahoma State Tartan was accepted in 1999. In 2000, 52,030 Oklahomans claimed Scottish ancestry and 58,798 claimed Scotch-Irish ancestry.

Sponsored by the Scottish Club of Tulsa, the event was first called the Tulsa Scottish Games. Later, the Scottish Club of Central Oklahoma became involved, and in 1988 the festival name changed to the Oklahoma Scottish Games and Gathering, as the new United Scottish Clans of Oklahoma helped with the event. Although the gathering has been held at various Tulsa parks, by 2002 Chandler Park hosted the event. In 1986 eleven clans and approximately 350 people attended. By 1988 there were more than 3,000 spectators. The competition charges admission, and prior to 2004 the largest number of paid attendees for the weekend stood at 11,200.


BIBLIOGRAPHY: Daily Oklahoman (Oklahoma City), 18 September 1987. Highland Herald [United Scottish Clans of Oklahoma, Inc.] 3 , (1 October 2004). Tulsa (Oklahoma) World, 15 September 1993, 15 and 20 September 2004.

Larry O'Dell

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