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Chilocco - Today and Yesterday
Chilocco Historical Preservation Celebration


March 4 has crept upon us like a stealthy cat who has targeted a bird. This is the day the Historical Preservation State Society who worked so hard to bring about the putting of Chilocco Indian School on the list for saving the buildings and will be time with the five tribes in ownership. These same five tribes who will receive the benefits are having a celebration. There has been little communication with anyone involved because we here have been buried in a life and death fight for Mother who had a severe case of the flu.

“Mother, Mother are you still with us?” My sister was anxiously inquiring of my 94 year old mother. The frail little woman was ashen white, breathing with a laborious effort and just generally seeming to be only steps away from total collapse. The little car was zipping along but still within the speed limit. The little over forty mile trip to the hospital at Stillwater, Oklahoma had to be made without not one stop even from a highway patrolman.

“Mother’s oxygen level is down to 70. She is very ill, we don’t know from what. She has a pacemaker.” I informed the person at a round desk who was obviously in charge of admitting patients.

“Oh my! What is her name?” The girl was focused on the machine in front of her.

“Velma Jones!” I was so nervous but I could remember my own mother’s name.

“When is her birthday?” The young woman was outstanding not as a nurse but just as a person. Her long, softly curled, ash blond hair was caught up from her face by combs. She could have been a model in a television commercial her skin was so clear and healthy.

“Is she Velma Louise Pensoneau Jones,” the girl read from the monitor in front of her.

“Yes.....yes!” I answered.

Within minutes we were in a small cubicle where nurses in ranks were around this very ill little Native American woman. There was a young man who came in and spoke in Mother’s native language. “Grandmother! I am the second son of Henman. Relax and don’t worry. Those Ne-Shingahs are all coming. They will take care of you.”

Mother in her state of distress smiled and asked, “Where’s the first son?”

The Native boy in braids smiled back and said, “He’s still in university across the street.”

This was the thing to bring a bit of color back to Mother’s face. After the doctor diagnosed her with pneumonia and not a heart attack a drip of antibiotics began to bring her away from that ashen look.

Now something over a week later the March 4 celebration at Chilocco will be on schedule. I, after years of work in so many ways would have enjoyed it, without doubt. However, these people of my family have survived through my sister and my hard work. Every night when I go to bed I am aware I could wake up with the flu even though I, somehow or another, have been able to avoid it this far. I crave nothing more than rest at this time.

It does my heart good to know a bevy of students will be in attendance tomorrow and that this is probably just the beginning of restoration for the old campus.. I know the five tribes are providing a reception for the group. I don’t know if it will be inside or out in this cold weather but wherever, this will be a good thing. For my part, I would have slicked up the lobby of old home five with balloons, space heaters and such but whatever happens will be good and welcoming to all, I’m sure.


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