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Season 2

S2, E17: “Terry Ware (Kiowa & Comanche) On The History of Riverside Indian School, Wares Chapel, O Ho Mah, Hog Creek & Our Love of Sonic Drinks”

Native ChocTalk Presents: “Terry Ware (Kiowa & Comanche) On The History of Riverside Indian School, Wares Chapel, O Ho Mah, Hog Creek & Our Love of Sonic Drinks”

Listen to the episode here: https://tinyurl.com/bde93y64

I stopped by Riverside Indian School in my hometown, Anadarko, Oklahoma last summer to hang out with my friend, Terry Ware and I can’t help but share our conversation with you. You’ll hear:

• Terry singing a Kiowa hymn and the happy birthday song in Kiowa (love this!)
• About Riverside Indian School’s upcoming 150-year celebration in May of 2022!
• The history of Riverside including about the feral hogs that used to come around (until a fence was put up)
• How Terry is a coach at Riverside, but before that, he was my dad’s student there at the school
• How he’s a legacy student at Riverside, as his grandmother, mom, daughter and grandson attended
• About his family’s church - Wares Chapel - in Hog Creek where we grew up, and where my sister got married. And about the Chapel’s inception in the 1800s and gathering of and transporting stones from Chickasha to Hog Creek.
• About the Kiowa tail bustle and the history from the Omaha tribe in Nebraska to the Cheyenne to the Kiowa
• What his research on the Carlisle Indian School Journals uncovered
• Why the O Ho Mah hid their drums and pipes in the caves in Ridge Stone, west of Hog Creek
• His love of singing and drumming in the O Ho Mah Lodge Singers group
• His ancestors’ names, such as “The Day the Sun Died” because his great great grandmother was born during the eclipse
• About the Fort Sill vs Riverside rivalry (know what I’m talkin’ about, Braves?) 😉
• That “Indian perfume”, which comes out with the full moon in June, is what I should include with my eagle feathers to decrease the strong smell
• Jerry’s Fruit Stand in Hog Creek
• About those pesky poisonous bull nettles in Oklahoma pastures such as in front of my home
• And – we discuss the serious topic of our mutual adoration of Sonic drinks

Yakoke, Terry for your time and for sharing so much with me and my listeners. Blessings to you!

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S2, E16: “Coach James Nells (Navajo) on Growing Up On the Reservation & the Sport That Changed His Life”

There was something comforting about the familiar scent of cedar that permeated from the wood burning stove inside the hogan each evening (“hogan” being the traditional home for the Navajo, in this case built of wood, with a dirt floor). The stove had 3 vents. And little sleepy James would watch the shadows from the vents on the walls, like fire dancing. As his heavy eyelids would slowly cover his eyes (despite trying to keep them open), he felt a sense of security as he couldn’t help but listen to his family members all snug inside talking about the day, the sounds and smells lulling him to sleep.

It was years later when James realized the significance of being surrounded by multiple Code Talkers as he was growing up (including his grandfather, Lemuel Yazzie) as they would all sit around talking about their time as Code Talkers. Even the Medicine Man who spoke many prayers for James was a Code Talker.

In Winslow, Arizona sits the Navajo Reservation, where my guest, Coach James Nells – Navajo, Salt Clan born for Under his Cover Clan – was born and raised. Life on the Reservation wasn’t always easy. Despite no electricity, herding sheep and hauling water, being surrounded by familiar centuries-old traditions and culture, somehow nearly kept intact despite the force of time and assimilation, was always “home”.

I know you’ll be touched by James’ story, as he shares about:
• Breaking the cycle of alcoholism
• Running away from foster care
• Attending boarding school, where Coach Dewey Bohling inspired him to start running
• Winning state champion in high school, and All-American in college
• Serving our country in the Army
• Being a Coach at Riverside Indian School

You’ll hear Coach Nells speak in his Navajo language (and maybe you’ll hear a little smack talk to his fellow Kiowa coach at Riverside, Terry Ware.)

Coach Nells leaves us with some inspiring thoughts. He fought in Iraq, loves our country and suggests that we cannot make excuses in life and blame others. And to, “Remember the Creator above and be strong”. Yakoke, Coach Nells!

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S2, E15: “The Edwards Store, The Treaty of Dancing Rabbit Creek & A Woman Named Sukky: Chrissy Gray Dickmeyer, Choctaw”

The year was 1830. Up to 6,000 Choctaws gathered each day. White observers also decided to come along. Cattle was butchered to feed the masses, supplies were set up in tents and all were anxious to observe what was to come.

Gambling tables were provided - an activity that opened the door to brawls. Tables were knocked over amongst the fights and many were bullied by trigger-happy troublemakers. On the other hand, Christian services took place amongst the chaos. The Choctaw danced throughout the night, then retired in camps along Dancing Rabbit Creek, while the whites encamped in random spots.

The most notable of the Choctaw were present - Chiefs Greenwood LeFlore, Mushulatubbee, and Nittakechi, Choctaw warrior, Hopaii Ishkitini and many others.

But this was no celebration. The most significant treaty between the US Government and the Choctaw was to be negotiated and signed on September 27th, 1830 at this very site. These signatures meant the Choctaw would be surrendering 11 million Mississippi acres, the removal to Indian Territory imminent. The lives and futures of the Choctaw people would be changed forever.

Amongst these goings on, there once lived a prominent Choctaw woman named Sukky who lived with her husband and 2 kids just up the hill from the Treaty grounds. What did Sukky have to do with these events?

My guest, Chrissy Gray Dickmeyer is a descendant of Sukky and reads to us about a perspective around the gathering of the Choctaw during the signing of The Treaty of Dancing Rabbit Creek and the struggle she must have faced with the guests she had to host in her home.

But there’s even more…Chrissy also reads to us about the stories of The Edwards Store – a historic trading post that’s been in her family for 170 years! This trading post, nestled among the beautiful San Bois Mountains in Oklahoma, was absolutely essential for the Choctaw. And we’ll also talk about how molasses was a staple by the gallon!

YOU are invited to come visit The Edwards Store, see this living piece of history for yourself, sip on some sweet tea and sit a spell.

Oh and one more thing. Chrissy and I discuss something very important. What REALLY IS in the panhandle of Oklahoma? Okies, you know what I’m sayin’, right?

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S2, E14: “The Mystery of the Train Ride to Indian Territory”: Jennifer Story (Choctaw, Tewa, Ohkay Owingeh Pueblo & Oglala Lakota)”

There are many mysteries out there - many that will never be solved. And some mysteries are so frustrating, they’ll leave a gap in your soul. One of those such puzzles in life is that of we American Indians trying to figure out the stories and history of our ancestors.

When non-Natives are searching for their families of yesteryear, they typically can hop on ancestry.com or other genealogy site and find tree after tree of their ancestors from the 1500s in England, or the records of those landing on Ellis Island or the history of family members migrating from the east coast to the west to search for gold, and so on.

But for us, our ancestors didn’t keep many records – at least, not that we can easily access today. Most of our history is passed down by oral tradition, often disappearing over time with each generation. So centuries of our own stories have never be heard or are incorrectly told by now. We often long to connect in some way with those family members of the past, so that we can understand more about their world and about ourselves…and so they’re never forgotten.

My guest today – Jennifer Story - posed a mystery to me as we were preparing ahead of time for today’s episode. She stated that as many Choctaws from Mississippi were being removed to Indian Territory (on what’s now known as the “Trail of Tears”), she was baffled by the question that kept coming to her mind - why were her Choctaw ancestors removed many years later than the others?

Ironically, a few years back, I had read a paper written by a woman named Deanna Byrd who is a Historical Archeologist. Jennifer’s question triggered a memory from the content of that paper. And even more ironically, Deanna was releasing a documentary around the same time of our recording, filmed by my friend, Mark Williams (you may have heard Mark on the stickball episode, Season 2, Episode 5, Pt 2). Between the time of our preparation and the actual recording, Mark and Deanna had led us to the right information and the mystery had been solved. (Yakoke, friends!)

Listen to today’s episode to hear about this mystery unraveled and solved!

You’ll also learn about:

  • A man named Bear Heart
  • Some unlikely next-door neighbors
  • What Jennifer learned as she cared for her ill brother
  • Stories of Jennifer playing a dancer in the movie, “Killers of the Flower Moon” (guess whose famous actress’ shoes Jennifer was given to wear in the movie!)
  • How her legendary Aunt Esther single-handedly saved the Tewa language
  • Hear what famous actor attended Aunt Esther’s funeral
  • Jennifer and I had such a fun time, so you may hear quite a dose of laughter from us Choctaw gals

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S2, E13: “Choctaws & The Making of Hochatown: Meet Shauna Williams, Choctaw”

Enchanting historic roads wind through the miles of evergreen trees in the Kiamichi Mountains of southeastern Oklahoma. The trembling autumn leaves tinted in colors of gold and rust drift to the earth with the Oklahoma wind, whispering the tales of those who have come and gone.

The Caddo Indians would be pushed out of their region in the early 1800s by those Choctaw who had survived the Trail of Tears, removed from their original homelands of Mississippi, Louisiana and Arkansas and placed in this new land in Indian Territory. The original bustling town, filled with busy Choctaws going about their day is now under water. Big Foot, who supposedly once ventured through the hills seeking food, faded into but a legend. The bootleggers who honed their skills creating, drinking and selling hooch along the riverbeds of the dark forests, slowly gave way to roads, shops and tourists (or did they?).

I turned to a Choctaw expert who grew up near Hochatown, Shauna Williams to learn more about this mysteriously beautiful part of the state and the comings and goings of such fascinating people, hairy creatures and moving towns. I also asked about the many fun things to do in Hochatown with kids, family or a significant other - from warm fireplaces in lovely cabins nestled in the woods, to adventures for the kids, to camping, to Big Foot hunting and more!

Shauna is in Construction Project Management across our Tribal Reservation as Director of Real Estate Development for the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma (since then, she received a promotion to Executive Director of Communications – congrats, Shauna!). The day I visited with Hochatown at the Choctaw Nation Community Center, there was a big announcement coming that was top secret, and a celebration was even taking place that evening. You can only imagine how intrigued I was. Over the next couple of days, I’ll share more!

By the way, I think I’ve found yet another look-alike within the Choctaw Nation. If you were to get Shauna, as well as Choctaw Prosecutor, Kara Bacon and myself together, you’d wonder if you were looking at triplets – or at least sisters!

I’m excited for you to hear this week’s episode about beautiful Hochatown, which is east of the Mountain Fork River in southeastern Oklahoma! Today you’ll hear about:

• The history of Hochatown and how it got its name
• Our Choctaw influence in Hochatown
• Why this town is deemed the “Moonshine capital of Oklahoma”*
• Big Foot. Yep. He’s here, y’all. And no one loves Big Foot more than the people of Hochatown!
• Is the original town now really under 200 feet of water?
• Hear Shauna’s own ancestral history and why her uncle had to hide out in the mountains of Smithville.
• FYI, Hochatown is near Broken Bow, so you’ll often hear both names.
• *Shauna and I can neither confirm nor deny if hooch is still being made in the mountain woods…

I hope you’ll enjoy, and if you’ve been to Hochatown, feel free to post photos to my Native ChocTalk Facebook page. Yakoke! https://www.facebook.com/nativechoctalkpodcast

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