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Oklahoma State Senate
Communications Division
State Capitol
Oklahoma City, OK 73105
405-521-5774

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For Immediate Release: March 1, 2006


          President, Chairman and CEO of ONEOK David Kyle, Charles Ford and artist Wayne Cooper.
          President, Chairman and CEO of ONEOK David Kyle, Charles Ford and artist Wayne Cooper.  

“The Magic of Petroleum” Painting Dedicated

The Oklahoma State Senate Historical Preservation Fund, Inc. dedicated “The Magic of Petroleum,” a painting by internationally renowned artist Wayne Cooper of Depew, Oklahoma, in a ceremony held in the Governor’s Large Conference Room at the State Capitol Building on Wednesday.

“Though the oil and gas industry is a large part of Oklahoma’s heritage and history, many Oklahomans are unfamiliar with how valuable petroleum was in this state even before the first oil well was drilled,” said Charles Ford, president and founder of the Oklahoma State Senate Historical Preservation Fund. “Native Americans in Oklahoma had long ago discovered the medicinal uses of petroleum, and spearheaded early exploration and production operations.”

Petroleum could readily be found on the outcroppings of many springs and streams in Oklahoma. Tribal members collected the petroleum to create medicines for a wide variety of ailments, as depicted in the painting. A report by a Chickasaw Agent in 1853 highlighted the medicinal properties of petroleum:

“The oil springs in this nation are attracting considerable attention, as they are said to be a remedy for all chronic diseases,” reads the agent’s report. “The fact is that it cures anything that has been tried.”
One of many well-known springs that attracted visitors was at Boyd Springs, near present-day Ardmore in the Chickasaw Nation. Other natural oil springs, such as Maytubby Springs near Caddo in Bryan County, became such an attraction that a hotel and resort were built nearby.

Lewis Ross, a brother of Cherokee Chief John Ross, was drilling for saltwater on the Grand River when he found a pocket of oil in 1859 that produced about 10 barrels a day for nearly a year, a valuable source of revenue for the tribe.

“The Magic of Petroleum” was commissioned by Tulsa-based diversified energy company ONEOK, one of the largest natural gas distributors in the United States, serving 2 million customers in Oklahoma, Kansas and Texas. Originally founded in 1906 as an intrastate natural gas pipeline company, today ONEOK is involved in all aspects of the natural gas industry, a leader in the gathering, processing, storage and transportation of natural gas. ONEOK also owns one of the nation’s premier natural gas liquids systems.

The artist, Wayne Copper, who comes from a background of Indian heritage, is well-known for his depictions of Western and Indian subjects.

This and other art commissioned by the Oklahoma State Senate Historical Preservation Fund, Inc. can be found on the Internet at www.oksenate.gov under “Senate Artwork”.

For more information contact:
Senator Communication's Office - (405) 521-5698

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