I’ve been a recreational reader since kindergarten but I rarely read nonfiction without someone forcing it on me. But earlier this year I turned a new page and started reading nonfiction for personal enjoyment.
The books have been primarily about Oklahoma territory and Native-American history. It started with “Empire of the Summer Moon,” a brutal and thrilling examination of “Comancheria,” Quanah Parker and the Comanche tribe’s forgotten place in the history of the Great Plains. I am familiar with the stories. I grew up hearing and learning about them from every perspective but the book still blew my mind.
I’ve also read “The Way to Rainy Mountain,” a book of stories and poems about the Kiowa tribe and a sacred foothill southeast of Gotebo in Kiowa County. The place was important to the tribe for many reasons but it also served as geographical marker. Before U.S. development, the plains were an amorphous land comparable to an ocean or desert in vastness, danger and navigability.
I used to cut wheat and plow fields at the foot of that landmark when I was a kid. I would commute from Apache via back roads and also use Rainy Mountain as a guide.
Right now I’m reading “Chilocco: Memories of a Native American Boarding School.” The book is about the “Indian Agricultural School” north of Ponca City, just inside the state line. It was open from 1884 to 1980. More than 5,000 students graduated from there and approximately 18,000 students, representing 176 different tribes, walked the massive 8,640 acre campus.
I plan to read “Carbine and Lance: the Story of Old Fort Sill” next. I went to the museum at the military base every year as a child, but I hope to learn something new from the book.
These books and stories like the one on Collings Castle by Derrick Ho and Hannah Rieger, and others I found in the archives have inspired me.
While writing stories for the metro section, the know-it section of Newsok, the forthcoming Yukon Living Guide, and working on stories for the business section, I’ve also been developing a multimedia project that examines endangered historical sites in Oklahoma.
I’m just not sure if I will have time to do them all.
Many of these sites are rural and forgotten. It is sad to see locations rich in historical significance give way to the elements of weather and neglect. Oklahoma City residents had the tax base and common sense to restore Bricktown. However, there is no economic incentive to save many places on the list of the state’s most endangered historic places.
I have five sites selected. I hope to do at least three. Feel free to email me with any suggestions at email@example.com.