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American History
Another Update for August

Thank you, Bret for your kindly updating me on the continuing work of Preservation Oklahoma and their work on Chilocco.  I do have to add that  this paragraph stands out the most to me:

Bret writes:
I dream of seeing this site restored for use again. It has always been my dream to see this institution remembered not only by its students and not only for the good things that came from attending it, but remembered in our collective American Memory for not only what it was designed to accomplish (not really good in all aspects) and for what it really did accomplish (the good and the bad). A museum of sorts for the Alumni should be a centerpiece of the site 

This is the vision and goal I perceived as being of most importance just as I said in the newspapers.  The concentration camps have been preserved that people not forget what happened and I'm not alluding to the school as a concentration camp at all. It is just that there were tears, loneliness, frightened children torn away from the mother's arms. Some of the Navajo students were, indeed, just children. Mother was there for eight years of her youth, you might say her total youth.  All this should be recorded and kept in a museum.  On the other hand, in my case, for one, there were the happiest moments in my life on those campus grounds.


Bret A Carter wrote:
ps. Donna, you are free to pass this on to whoever you like.

----- Original Message ----
From: Bret A Carter
To: DONNA <>
Cc: Preservation Oklahoma
Sent: Monday, August 28, 2006 2:53:33 PM
Subject: Re: class member, chilocco '61

Well, Donna, you have sure generated a lot of new-found interest and motiviation for people to communicate!
I wanted to also update you and all on the National Register Nomination for Chilocco.
Through the extreme generosity of the Oklahoma State Historic Preservation Office, the National Register nomination is complete. Jim Gabbert, staff Architectual Historian for the office and nomination-writter extrodinaire wrote the nomination.
The nomination has been submitted for review to the Oklahoma National Register of Historic Places review committee, chaired by Arn Henderson of OU. Mr. Henderson was one of our volunteers who went up last year to document the buildings, at which time he became a strong booster of the preservation of the school buildings.
At the last meeting of that review committee, the nomination was approved for submission to the National Review Committee, overwhelmingly and enthusasticly approved I might add. By the way, our strong supporter, Heather Siefert of Preservation Oklahoma was there to voice their strong support for the listing.
The next step is for review by the National Committee, and their approval. I believe the timeframe for that is October.
Importantly, the nomination was written to show the NATIONAL significance of the school buildings - as opposed to local or state significance. This means that the site is considered to be very important historically not just to us here in the area or in Oklahoma, but it is important in the history of the entire county. This also means that it could be considered for listing as a National Historic Landmark. There are less than 20 National Historic Landmarks in Oklahoma, while there are more than 1000 properties that are listed on the National Register of Historic Places.... so that makes it extrememly important! If approved for that list it will join such sites as the White House, Statue of Liberty, and the Empire State Building as one of the most important historic sites in America.

However, I know that I am not telling you or any other alumni anything they did not already know!

Donna, I think it would be fantastic if we could have a great celebration at the school when the listing is announced. I am sure that Preservation Oklahoma would be interested in participation in something there as well. It has been through the work of Preservation Oklahoma and particularly their Exec. Director Heather Seifert that anything has happened along these lines and all that.
Also, Donna, as you so well recognize, our work at the school is far from complete. While the listing of the site as either a National Register lised site or as a National Historic Landmark is great, it is only recognition of how important this historic site is. It does not force nor insure it's preservation (although it could make grants easier to obtain... and I have a whole list of things I would like to do next that draw on it's designation as one of America's Historic Places). As you know, the next step is up to the Chilocco Confederated Council Tribes. It is critical that a fesiable plan for the reuse of the facility be developed, that leadership (both within and from the outside) be put in place to persue the funds and other needs for that reuse, and that the goal be persued relentlessly, unselfishly, and with great energy. The tribes are quite able to do this; they all have comptentant, dedicated, and inovative leadership and I am convienced that they can work together to achieve great results. I also would volunteer unlimited personal time and resources to help this mission.
The very first step in any such plan is a plan to stabilize the buildings - to prevent futher damage by the elements or by vandals and all that.
While many of the buildings are 'condemned', there is nothing in that designation that says that they cannot be preserved, restored, and resued. It is only a statement that in their current condition they are not safe to use, not that they are not capable of being restored and reused. I have been assured by a crediable person that all these buildings can be restored and preseved, regardless of their current condition. However, the cost to do that will esculate the longer they are not stabilized.
At all costs we must fight against any attempt to demolish anymore of these significent buildings! At a minimum, we need a plan to stabalize these buildings even if we cannot find a way to restore them, and prevent further damage and vandalism. I can assist in preparing a stabilization plan, if asked, and can find others to help as well.
I dream of seeing this site restored for use again. It has always been my dream to see this institution remembered not only by its students and not only for the good things that came from attending it, but remembered in our collective American Memory for not only what it was designed to accomplish (not really good in all aspects) and for what it really did accomplish (the good and the bad). A museum of sorts for the Alumni should be a centerpiece of the site. However, the options for the remainder of the buildings are as numerous as there are alumni and tribe members. It would be great if there could be a summit of sorts, bringing together the tribal councils, the alumni, and any other interested parties to develop a plan for the campus.

In the beginning of Chilocco, the intent was the complete destruction of tribal culture and identy; the removal of all aspects of Native American culture from the innocent children. There is a golden opportunity here for the tribes to use this facility, designed for such a horrendous purpose, as a place that rebuilds that culture, that preserves that culture, and that honors that culture. Some possible uses (and the site can support all of these at the same time) would be:
    Native American Children Summer camp (with sports, horseback riding, classses in Native languages and arts, etc)
    Alumni museum (Old Student union)
    Native American industrial site (say in the old industrial arts buildings)
    Residential development (around the school at a distance... I bet a lot of alumni would love to live there!)
    Native American Cultural museum
    and on, and on, and on.
Thank you for this opportunity to share what is going on with the National Register Nomination and also for me to get on my soap box a little. I look foward to serving the Alumni and the CCCT to whatever degree they want my assistance!

Bret Carter, board member, Preservation Oklahoma

----- Original Message ----
From: DONNA <>
To: undisclosed-recipients
Sent: Monday, August 28, 2006 2:02:44 PM
Subject: Re: class member, chilocco '61

This is from Fannae

-------- Original Message --------
Date: Mon, 28 Aug 2006 12:17:10 -0500
From: Shields, Fannae H

Ed ( Eugene ) Wilson , Class of 61’

HC 15, Box 40

Smithville, OK 74957

Oh, I asked Judy how Ed was doing and she said holding his own.  His hearing and eyes are getting bad, which is why he doesn’t get on line any more with us.  She suggested we send him cards, as he checks the mail daily and she felt he would enjoy receiving them.  So, send him one when you have time, I’m sure a post card would be appreciated just a well.

For those of you who may not know or remember him and want to drop a line feel free to use my, Bev’s or Thomas’ name!

Return to Donna's Chilocco Page


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