What is Okies?
Okies is a 1907 slang which refers to the inhabitants or natives of Oklahoma. Basically, it is a term coined for migrant farmers who originate from the south central part of the United States. This is an expression to refer to people who are searching for job in the Southwest or West particularly during the time periods from 1930s to 1940s. The name is primarily derived from the very name of the Oklahoma state. This is also the same as referring to people living in Texas as Tex or Texans. Or those who live in Arkansas are also called Arkansawyer or Arkie.
The 1930s saw the Great Depression sweeping the entirety of the United States. During the era known as the Dust Bowl, a bigger number of farmers were known to flee the ecological crisis along with the Great Depression. These farm workers migrated from their original hometown in the Great Plains. Others who are from the Southwest districts also moved to California via the historic Route 66 in the US. It is when this period that most of the migrants moving to California are from the Oklahoma state. In fact, approximately 15% of the population migrating to California were farmers from Oklahoma.
Okies is a term first coined by Ben Reddick, a journalist working freelance and eventually became the publisher of the paper called Paso Robles Daily Press. He used this expression especially in the middle era of 1930s. It is used for identification of the migrant farmers from Oklahoma. Not long, Californians started to call the migrants Okies although not all of the newcomers are actually from the said state. In the contemporary world, the term revolved and changed. It was beginning to be applied in labeling badges of honor along with the symbolism of the surviving mind-set of the Oklahomans.