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Connecticut River Valley, New England, United States

Monday, February 22, 2010

NEVER on Monday!

Woke and up by 7 am this morning to a cold and cloudy day. The Five Nations Museum was to open at 10 so plenty of time to March with the General, perform a leisurely toilette and enjoy a relaxed petit dejeuner. Took our leave of the manager, Doreen, of the Comfort Inn after telling her once more that she and her staff have been the best we've had so far. And how much we enjoy meeting the people on our trips--that while scenery is fabulous and museums are educational, the people make the trips--interesting and friendly all across this country. Then off we went to the Museum, which was rather small but fascinating. I had forgotten that Oklahoma really was Indian Territory in that when settlers moved into the West and wanted that land those Indians were sent to Oklahoma and land was taken from the Five Nations to set up other tribes, the Sac and Fox, the Iowa, etc. Also, the curriculum at the Cherokee Seminaries was the same classical education Anglos studied-Latin,Greek, math and science etc, taught by teachers recruited from Mt Holyoke and Yale etc. There was no courses on Indian language, customs or culture. They recognized the need to assimilate and so they did not pass on their own heritage. It was interesting to see some of the equipment from the schools including a pyramidal contraption that held many flatirons, keeping them all hot for the girls to iron their clothes, linen etc. And a wonderful clock--the top face of which told the time but the bottom face showed the month, day of the week and date. And then there was the attempt to make two states out of Oklahoma--one of the Nations and the other of the Anglos. It would have resulted in 4 Democrat Senators and Teddy Roosevelt didn't like that idea, nor did Congress. Hence, though they were promised this arrangement if they would give up their communal ownership of land and allow it to be broken into political districts allowing eligibility for Statehood, the Five Nations were let down once more and Oklahoma entered the Union as one State with two Senators. It was also interesting to hear how the different tribes treated their black slaves after Emancipation and the end of the Civil War. Freedmen of the Seminoles and one other tribe were allotted the exact same land as any other individual--both of these tribes also freely intermarried with the freemen and women. Two of the others allowed limited land ownership and the Choctaw, I think, would not grant any land to the freedmen, since they outnumbered the Indians and they feared a shift in power within the Nation. The more things change the more they remain the same. Some people are surprised at the ownership of black slaves by Native Americans but slavery did not start with Black men and women in the American South. Warring Indian tribes in the East made slaves of men and women taken in battle. Black tribes in Africa made slaves of defeated enemy tribes and Indians in South America did the same thing. Black African slave traders provided the Black slaves of the American south in barter for rum and molasses. For these Southern Indians who lived the plantation life it was natural to have the same slaves their white neighbors held. And when they were forced to move West they took their slaves with them. As a result these black men and women had masters whom some revered and others hated, for just as the white masters, some Indians were cruel and others extremely paternal. No matter the right or wrong of it--this was a way of life, a fact of life in that time and place. I remember when the beer drinking Professor Gates told, I think, Jamie Fox, that his ancestors were slaves of Native Americans he was totally floored. Unfortunately, a new art exhibit was being installed on the second floor so I was unable to see Willard Scott's ( not the weatherman! ) beautifully sculpted wood carving called UPROOTED. His Exodus at the Cherokee Heritage Center was so beautiful and I'd seen some of his other work last year in Wewoka at the Seminole Council House Museum. We left and headed for Okmogee and the Creek Council House Museum--the Muskogee Nation and Creek Nation are one and the same. This was 42 miles almost due West and we moved right along on Rte 16 only to find that the Museum is NOT open on Sunday OR MONDAY! Oh, well. Retraced our steps a bit and headed to Bristow where we found a pizza buffet. We didn't know that's what it was until we went in--Mizzo's is not a chain with which we are familiar. But for 7.50 a piece we had an all we could eat buffet of various types of pizza and a really fresh and varied salad bar as well as a dessert pizza bar. Filled more than half my plate with fresh veggies and indulged in three slices--but they are slivers, which is not a problem since you can eat as many as you want. I DID have a small slice of chocolate chip for dessert. Then we continued through Shamrock and Drumright ( having already passed through Beggs and Slick to reach Bristow). Drumright was quite the place---down a steep hill and back up the other side made the Main Street--the walkers in that town are in great shape! The "i" in the town's welcome sign is an old fashioned oil derrick--for this was certainly a one-time boomtown. As a matter of fact throughout the day we saw homes with an oil well and tanks in the back yard--wonder what the rules are for an oil well for one's own use? Of course, it is crude and needs refining before use--but is it like generating electricity back home and selling it to the grid? As usual, I had to take pix of the old buildings--in all their art deco glory--some of which pre-date 1907, therefore, pre-date Statehood. Can you imagine--my Mom and Dad were kids when these States joined the Union? Sort of like those of us, who remember Hawaii and Alaska becoming States! So strange. Finally we arrived at the SleepInn in Guthrie. Today is the anniversary of the demise of our Cobalt in Tulsa. and day after tomorrow will be a year since we ate lunch at Katie's in Guthrie. But for tonight we ate lightly at the Boneyard--where I had salad and soup and Bill had a steak sandwich. Tomorrow--with luck, since snow and an ice storm are predicted!!! --we'll visit the newspaper museum and maybe the Territorial Museum before heading to Wethersfield, or something like that, for the night. Guthrie was the first Capital of Oklahoma and so is rather steeped in history--it was settled in one day in the Land Rush made so famous in the movie with Tom Cruise and Nicole Kiddman where they fell in love for real.....Don't remember the name. But now I'm tired so will have a Bailey's, check the TV and look at my new book on the 5 Nations. Staywarm and take care, all. Until tomorrow.

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