Continuing to Learn about Indigenous North American Peoples

This adventure has included many opportunities to see history through native eyes. We saw some of it in San Antonio, Big Bend National Park, Fort Davis, El Paso, Guadelupe Mountains, Palo Duro, TX and Lawton, OK. Yesterday’s visit encompassed the Comanche Museum and Cultural Center in Lawton, where the 15,000 remaining members of the Comanche Tribe live. This is our third visit to a museum dedicated to one tribe alone (the others being the Eastern Cherokee and the OK Chickasaw Tribes. We’ve also seen the outstanding Heard Museum in Phoenix).

It is deeply engaging to see the artifacts and art, to hear the stories and meet people who are focused on their people’s history and culture. The pride is always evident, especially when a special role was played in American history (e.g., 17 Comanche Code Talkers were instrumental in WWII European Defenses and D-Day).

It is also interesting to hear how the telling of history differs, depending on the teller. Anglo Texans shade the stories in a way that stands apart from the Indian way of telling facts. Perhaps this is to be expected. Old animosities and boundaries endure. On a future venture through OK, we’re going to the “Five Civilized (i.e., assimilated) Tribes” Museum in Muskogee and to the Gilcrease Museum in Tulsa, one of the largest collections of all tribes’ art and artifacts. Trying to view the dynamic and the details from all sides.

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