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Season 2

S2, Ep4 “150 Years at Riverside Indian School: Timothy Yeahquo, Kiowa”

“150 Years at Riverside Indian School: Timothy Yeahquo, Kiowa”

You’ve heard the heartbreaking stories of the American Indian boarding schools from years past. And the atrocious accounts continue to unfold – children of all ages being removed from their homes, a government intent on “killing the man, saving the Indian”, and innocent kids being taught to forsake their language, customs, traditions and all they had ever known.

But what about the boarding schools that were turned over to the Bureau of Indian Affairs? There’s one such school today that’s run by American Indians, whose mission is not only to teach, but also to encourage and help students to understand, learn about and preserve their history, language and culture.

Today, we celebrate the 150th anniversary of Riverside Indian School – the oldest off-reservation Native American boarding school in the United States today! And this, my friends is a boarding school that’s a far cry from the past.

Growing up in Anadarko, Oklahoma and my father working at Riverside, as well as knowing many alumni and teachers, allowed me the opportunity to see a side to this school that others may not see.

As more of these awful, yet true stories of the boarding schools have come to light, some folks have begun to lump all boarding schools of today with the stories of those of the past, assuming abuse is still taking place. Misinformation is posted on social media by people who mean well, but may have never visited Anadarko, much less Riverside Indian School, alumni or current students. Many of those current Riverside students and alumni join the conversations online, trying to correct the assumptions, to share their stories and the good experiences they’ve had. No school is perfect and not every story is favorable. But the majority have great things to say – an opportunity to go to school with others who are also Native, being taught by Native American teachers. To have this tight-knit community taken away would be detrimental to current students and incoming students of the future.

There’s so much more to this story. Be sure to listen in to hear from Timothy Yeahquo about:

• The history of Riverside and the Quakers who originally started it.
• How the Navajo contributed to keeping Riverside from closing.
• Riverside’s former names.
• 76 tribes from all over the US have attended Riverside. One can walk through the campus at times, enjoying the sound of drums echoing through the campus or watching a game of stickball being played, often times among multiple tribal nations all coming together to share their own culture and to learn of others’ as well.

For Riverside Indian School’s 150 year celebration, students have enjoyed events throughout the 2022 spring semester, such as a 150 mile run in which Eric Smith, Chickasaw bow-maker (who made the bows and arrows for the movie, “The Revenant”) attended and provided an arrow for hand-offs, a fashion show featuring Native regalia, an art show and more!

Also, alumni, students and teachers will also enjoy (at no cost):
• February 16, 2022 - Levi Platero musician
• March 26, 2022 - Adrianne Chalepah comedian (Riverside’s own alumni)
• May 19, 2022 - Senior/sesquicentennial POWWOW, followed by fireworks!

These events were eventually open and all were welcome, but considering covid concerns, these events will be for alumni only. However, Riverside wanted you listeners to know if anything changes, we promise to keep y’all posted!

Alumni, please join in and show your RIS Braves pride and support for current students!

For contributions for the upcoming events or for the students (donations for students are utilized for shoes for sports, prom dresses, hygiene products and more), please contact: Timothy Yeahquo, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., Riverside Indian School, 101 Riverside Drive Anadarko, OK 73005 (Attn: 150 Years if you’re wishing to contribute to the upcoming event.)

Listeners, please stay tuned for another future episode dedicated to the children and tragic stories of the boarding schools, with a guest who will share about the historical trauma carried forward from her own experience, as well as that of her ancestors and thousands of others. We pray for hope and healing for all who have been affected and may we never forget the innocent children who lost so much. And we wish Riverside students many blessings on their journey of education, cultural preservation, and future opportunities!

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S2, Ep3 “Sarah Elisabeth, & Lynda Kay Sawyer (Choctaws) Discuss Ancestral History & the Anniversary of the book, Tushpa's Story”

“Sarah Elisabeth, & Lynda Kay Sawyer (Choctaws) Discuss Ancestral History & the Anniversary of the book, Tushpa's Story”

There’s an incredibly powerful book that changed the way we understand and “feel” the journeys of those who walked the Trail of Tears. It’s called Tushpa's Story (Touch My Tears: Tales from the Trail of Tears Collection), and January 28, 2022, is the 6th anniversary of its release!

What better way to celebrate this anniversary than by hearing more about the book, directly from Choctaw Author, Sarah Elisabeth Sawyer. And guess what? You can download a FREE copy by clicking here: https://www.sarahelisabethwrites.com/ , then click on the red ribbon at the top and sign up for the newsletter! (Or you can purchase it from the website.)

I found myself so connected to Sarah Elisabeth. We both homeschooled, we’re both Choctaw gals, we love horses and grew up in sister (yet rival) states – Texas and Oklahoma - and we’re both driven to preserve Native American stories and history.

Sarah isn’t just a writer - she’s a trailblazer. In her collections, she takes our historical Choctaw stories and events and creates fascinating can’t-put-it-down historical fiction books (“heavy on the fiction and heavy on the on the history”, she says) – finally, a way to make our history come alive!

A special guest, Sarah Elisabeth’s mother, Lynda Kay was also willing to join in to share about the work she does to support Sarah’s writing and about their family’s ancestral stories (she’ll also be writing a non-fiction book about their family!). By the way, I couldn’t tell these two ladies apart when they were talking – like mother, like daughter!

Lynda Kay is a photographer, writer and jewelry designer (with a little extra touch on each piece - excerpts of family stories on a card accompany each necklace). For instance, one is called, “The paisley shawl”, which is a story in itself. Check out this website to see more: https://www.sarahelisabethwrites.com/shopping?category=Jewelry

Tune in to this episode and you’ll hear:
• More about Sarah’s books as she reads excerpts to us
• How God put out a “feather mattress” to cushion the fall for her and her mother after her father’s death
• Why Sarah yelled in the library of congress (true story, y’all)
• If you’re a teacher and/or a homeschool family, Sarah says these books are kid friendly.
• How the Choctaw ponies brought us together and how that conversation resulted in my getting to meet the Choctaw ponies! By the way, check out some of Lynda Kay’s Choctaw ponies photos here! https://www.sarahelisabethwrites.com/shopping?category=Fine+Art+Photography
• Her new “Doc Beck” Series, set in the 1890s, about an Omaha Indian doctor, inspired by Dr Susan La Flesch who graduated in 1889 and practiced medicine for the Omaha nation.

I’m excited to be reading Sarah Elisabeth’s books in a book club I’m doing with my family - you should try it too! Sarah has agreed to do an author’s meeting with us as well and she signed all the books for us. So fun!

Once you’ve finish Tushpa’s Story, go check out all the great books in Sarah’s collections at https://www.sarahelisabethwrites.com/.

Sarah Elisabeth mentions in her website, “enduring hope and incredible beauty rises from the ashes.” And that’s what I love about these books. Each one conveys hope, even in the worst of times. I think you’ll be inspired, so enjoy and let me know what you think!

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S2, Ep2 “Chief Mushulatubbee and the Traditional vs Progressive Struggle: Steven Hunter Oklatubee, Choctaw”

Buckle up, y’all. Because today you’re going to study with me about a time in history when the entire future of our Indigeneous people had come to a crossroads that depended upon crucial decisions. Would each tribe fight for the right to stay in the land of their ancestors? Or would they succumb to the pressures of colonization and the removal to the new, unknown lands of Indian Territory.

These decisions, which could mean life or death for many or all, were the burden of every Chief.

No one personifies this pivotal moment more than the man some described as, the “Last great chief of the Choctaw.” His name was Mushulatubbee. And my guest, Dr. Steven Hunter Oklatubee, is the fifth great grandson of this great “Minco” (or “Chief”, in Choctaw). Steven presents his extensive research and his paper about this Minco, who was tasked with balancing the elements of an ever-changing world that would change the tribe’s way of life forever.

What would become of his tribe’s traditional ways – those of their ancestors who were born of Nanih Waiya (meaning “leaning hill”, which many Choctaw believed was from which their people were born)? Or, if they adopted this new progressive way of life, endorsed by the newest generations of the tribes, would they face the destruction of their centuries old culture and traditions? There is much to be uncovered here.

Steven and I couple this intense topic, however with some much needed relief, discussing Steven’s goats (yes, goats) and well, my lack of being able to pronounce a few tongue-twisting words. It was a long day, y’all so this one was chalked full of bloopers that I edited out, but I may reveal someday in the future.

Chief Mushulatubbee is someone you need to know – and despite our bloopers, you’ll appreciate Steven’s great work to understand and preserve the life and trials of this leader who deserves to have his story told. And perhaps a new appreciation will be born for the hundreds of Mincos who suffered under the tremendous burden of decisions during these times.

May they never be forgotten…

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S2, E1, Part 2: “Rachael Youngman, Part 2, 1896 – A Year to Forget”

WELCOME to Season 2 of Native Choctalk, A Podcast by Natives For All!

My Producer and friend, Bee will be interviewing me in this 2nd of a 2 part series. I am honored to openly share in this episode about my ancestral stories, following the lineage of my great grandmother Ella, starting with her mother, Rosa Coley. I say “openly share”, because for too long, our ancestors were told to “be quiet”, to not speak their language and to disown their culture and traditions. I hope in some small way to be my ancestors' voice today, to keep their memories alive and to honor their journey.

You’ll hear about the journey of my Coley family, who were outstanding and prominent citizens in their Choctaw community. Yet, in the year 1896, with the fate of one single decision, their lives would change forever, and generations to come would stare poverty, loss, abuse and death in the face.

My family members endured the same story as many American Indians did in the 1800s and early 1900s, very similar to what you may have read in the book, Killers of the Flower Moon. Guardians with ill intent were given full rein to take on their wards’ Indian land allotments. And in my family’s case, these minors were treated as slaves and suffered unspeakable abuse.

We’ll also take a trip back to that excruciating time when the Choctaw were forced to leave everything behind in their Mississippi ancestral lands, and begin a journey by foot, hundreds of miles toward their new home in Indian Territory. You’ll hear what many of our Native ancestors experienced before, during and after that journey (which is now called the “Trail of Tears”).

Yet even in the midst of such sorrow, resiliency and faith and sheer Okie red dirt grit held this tight-knit family together. 1896 may have knocked some down, but they were not out, and they found strength in family and in rebuilding together.

The information I’ll be sharing is near and dear to my heart, and is a result of 12 years of research, many all-nighter research binges and following “rabbit holes” down any and every historical avenue I could discover.

Bee and I enjoyed recording these 2 episodes - we can’t seem to get together without laughing and carrying on. However, although we may occasionally burst into friendship mode and a laugh or two, we do care deeply about the people we’re discussing, and we take the issues at hand seriously.

I thank you for helping me to honor my ancestors as I keep their memories and stories alive today.

And yakoke to my ancestors for choosing to carry on, despite such hardships, and for living the example of strength and resiliency by which we, your descendants can forever be inspired.


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“Rachael Youngman, Part 1, The Choctaw Girl from Hog Creek”

WELCOME to Season 2 of Native Choctalk, A Podcast by Natives For All!

I’d like to thank each and every one of you who listened in Season 1 and supported this effort to preserve our American Indian stories, history, culture and traditions. I’m grateful and thankful for you and for my incredible guests!

And, in order to take my own advice about preserving stories, today’s episode is in 2 parts and it’s about my own story as well as that of my ancestors. And at the beginning of next season in the fall of 2022, I’ll go into parts 3 and 4 of this series.

Since I thought interviewing myself would be a little strange, my Producer, Bee is going to do the honors. I can’t imagine a world without Bee – she’s not just the gal who edits and posts the episodes to the podcast platforms, she’s my dear friend. So, I’m excited to introduce you to her and I think you’ll be inspired to hear some of her story too while we’re at it.

Bee and I enjoyed working together to recording these episodes - we can’t seem to get together without laughing and carrying on. However, although we may occasionally burst into friendship mode and a laugh or two, we do care deeply about and honor the people we’re talking about, and we take the issues at hand very seriously.

In this first of 2 parts in this series, Bee interviews me about growing up as 1 of 3 “feral” children in the country way out in Hog Creek, miles outside of Anadarko, Oklahoma.

You’ll hear about our making our clothes, growing our food and homeschooling (and why the Wal-Mart was a crucial part of our social life), and how squishy potato bugs, bull nettles, tornadoes and guinea birds were out to kill us.

And I’ll share the raw truth about the challenges that came later as I navigated life as a divorced, single mom, how giving up wasn’t an option, why it took 11 years for me to finish my degree, the inspiration I found in my favorite Bible verse and how it prompted this Okie girl to pull herself up by her bootstraps.

And listeners, be sure to keep an eye out for “Rachael Youngman, Part 2, 1896 – A Year to Forget”, coming up next!

Yakoke (thanks) to Chihowa (God) and to my chukka achvffa (family) for loving and supporting me. (And mamma, thanks for putting up with us feral children – you deserve an award!)

Chahta sia hoke!

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