This week my parents took me back to where I was born, Lawton, Oklahoma. Honestly, I had dodged this trip with them for about three years, and finally decided to do it. It was important for them to show me that year of their lives, and for me to see where I was born. My dad served as a captain in the Dental Corps for one year in Fort Sill, and that was the year I was born. 1968.
So, we went! I survived! And, to my surprise I came away with a new appreciation for Oklahoma and inspired by the history. EVERYWHERE we went, my parents told people they were bringing me back after 54 years and the immediate reaction was to turn to me and say, “Welcome Home!”
We visited all of the sites down memory lane. Their once elegant apartment building with a grassy courtyard and club house surrounding a pool had turned into a strip bar at some point, the army hospital where I was born had relocated, and the officers club had lost its luster, but I got the picture. We even found Geronimo’s grave.
What stuck with me the most was our visit to the Museum of the Great Plains and the Indian Museum, Comanche Nation. I was shocked that the Native Americans are referred to as Indians. I even spoke to one local tribal member (Comanche) to ask if that was appropriate, and he said yes. That was a shocker for me. There are so many important people that came from this region including Will Rogers, Maria Tallchief, and Joseph Glidden, the guy who invented barbed wire. I laughed at first about the barbed wire, but so important right? I sat in a simulated tornado shelter and got to hear the testimony of survivors from Tornado Tuesday. We never even learned about Tornado Tuesday growing up in California! It was a super scary, tornado one mile wide that wiped out Wichita and parts of Lawton.
The Indian artifacts were what I wanted to take home. The painted scenes on buffalo skins, the hand beaded moccasins and belts, and the incredible weavings. The natural dyes used for all of these items in my opinion is what distinguishes the original from any new commercial item. Their handwork in the form of dolls, belts, saddles, booties and headdresses, once just a part of their everyday lives, are visual treasures for all of us now. I particularly loved the soft turquoise blues of the beads. It’s a beautiful blue, not bright, but distinctive and strong. In fact, I wanted to find some original beadwork to bring home, and visited some Indian Pawn shops but didn’t quite see what I wanted. I’ll include a photo here of the beading I loved as well as some beautiful weavings. The pattern in the weaving undulates with color, and is so naturally mesmerizing, all done by hand on the Great Plains by the local tribes in Oklahoma.