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American History
Chilocco Meeting


Garland Kent is the president of the local Chilocco Alumni Association. His daughter, Janie, and wife, Lucy, wait here for arriving guests to come through the door so they can put them on our sign-in sheet.  I was so proud of Garland for having his whole family at this gathering. This is one of the things we want to accomplish. Soon the old graduating alumni will be no more and it is our hopes that we can involve our children and their children in an associates membership so that the memory of Chilocco and what the school did for our families can be kept.

James Edwards, last year's president of the National Chapter, and his wife, Jeannie, sit quietly to listen to the program. Draped over the back of their chairs are the jackets to identify them with Chilocco.

One of the descendants of a Chilocco family enjoys one of the sweet treats here. There was a lavish presentation of food in a pot luck meal. Baskets of fried chicken, every vegetable dish, numbers of cakes and a wonderful blackberry pit of which I had one blackberry, (drat).

Betty Durkee, who is an executive from the Kaw Nation spoke. Her presentation was information and positive. She spoke of some of the future goals being considered for the development of Chilocco at this present day, by the Kaw tribe, 2005.  One of their first wishes is to consider a wind farm on their segment of land. This would do two things. l. Bring in revenue. 2  Provide energy at a low cost for the maintenance of the buildings which is too great for any other power company at the time. Chilocco at one time had their own power plant. Betty pointed out that the restoring of the building would be costly because of their having been built with asbestos. The regulations on removing that are stringent (and we lived in those buildings?)

If anyone can achieve this monumental task it would be Betty and the Kaw tribe. Betty Durkee was one of the first grant writers for the Standing Bear Park which is so successful today.

Chilocco grads and associates sit and listen intently to the speaker. Some of these are:  Elizabeth Pensoneau Primeaux, Ponca City; Clyde Otipoby, Ponca City; Mrs. King, Newkirk; Bret Carter, Ponca City, Ken Ellis, Tulsa; Freida Homaratha, Oklahoma City.

Bret Carter tells us where the status of the work his group did with recording evidence of Chilocco in its present condition.  He did say that since there is so much to be documented that it will take some time before it is presented to the National Historical Society. However, he did say that the work was being done and is going forward.  The writing of the material will be akin to writing a book, he said.  He has the photographs but isn't ready yet, to present them. There are over some 300 and will have to be mounted in albums for display. Chilocco is a valuable part of our history he pointed out, and will, no doubt, be recognized as such.

James Edwards, Tulsa, is last year's Alumni president. He is a strong leader and has an important job this year with the National Association. Jim is a strong leader and in this role he is concerned with each and every Chilocco graduate and associate. Efforts by men like these are what have kept the memory of the school alive.

Ken Ellis speaks here, briefly.  He is the one who designs web pages for a living. His page of  http://chiloccoalumni.com/  is visited daily by a great audience from all over the nation.

Jeannie Edwards, Mrs. James Edwards, speaks here about the up coming National meeting of the alumni. I didn't take notes so I can't tell you all that she said. However, she did cover each day of the agenda for the meeting. It sounded very interested. One of the things planned is a sign language presentation. These are undoubtedly the most beautiful things anyone can see. She said there would be a performance by a Cherokee choir. A fashion show by someone from each tribe will be given. This alone will be worth the attendance.

My whole thought of working toward some part of the Chilocco campus for a meeting place was to give people who are not able to spend the great amount of money to meet with their old classmates that is necessary with this National program.  Jeannie did say they would provide one person, who could not, otherwise attend, with a ticket. This will be held at the Sheraton Hotel in Tulsa for next year.

Jim Baker's picture, for some reason, did not come out.  He is this year's president. He was a student at Chilocco, graduated in 1960, and then became superintendant during the turbulent times before its closing. I know what a hard role that was for him to play. Nevertheless, he managed to go through it in a dignified way. I believe he will do a great job as president this year.


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