Who owns Oklahoma? The Monument to the Land Run Of 1889 on Route 66, in Luther, Oklahoma… and Native American Sovereignty

In October, while driving Route 66, I came across this marker/monument in Oklahoma. It denotes the eastern boundary of the Oklahoma Land run of 1889. For those who are unfamiliar with this event, it is yet another one of the many moments in American history where white men feel proud of themselves (there’s a HUGE monument to the event in downtown Oklahoma City), for essentially screwing over the indigenous red man who was there first (please note there is NO reference to them on this monument). HOWEVER, it also has something to do with the Case of Carpenter v. Murphy which is currently before the Supreme Court of the United States!

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In fact the Run of ’89 was the first of a series of land rushes organized by the Federal Government. These were “organized (HAH!)” events where vast numbers of WHITE settlers, 50,000 of them in this case… lined up with a flags in their hands, and at the sound of a gun were supposed to surge across the UNASSIGNED countryside on horseback or in wagons, racing to outpace the other contestants, find a nice piece of desirable FREE land, drive their flags into said piece and thereby “stake their claim to it.” In reality, the gullible honest people did that… often to find cheaters (usually rich people who had illegally surveyed the land ahead of time) already there (along with all their employees) trying to make it look like they’d actually done the run along with the others… when they had not… and had somehow managed to grab all the best bits of land first. So this was not only White people screwing over Red people, it was also rich white dishonest people screwing honest hardworking poor white people.

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Of course, all of this screwing was only possible after the government had “legally” screwed the folks who were already there…. the Native Americans…. Initially this was done via the Indian [land] Appropriation Acts where the government gave itself the right to yet again round up the local Native American population, this time to force them into reservations. When I say yet again, you need to keep in mind that the State name, Oklahoma, is derived from what it had been called at that time… i.e., the Oklahoma territory… and that the word Oklahoma is actually a composite of the Choctaw words “okla” and “humma,” which translates quite literally to “red people” … i.e., Red man’s territory.

This was an area that had at first been occupied by the Choctaw Nation (a multi-tribal people that spread from Oklahoma to Florida, and were united by a single language, Choctaw), who were then joined by the Cherokee… who were only there because they had already been moved once. Some came begrudgingly, as a result treaties they had signed, such as that of New Echota — the one made with the leaders of the former capitol of the Cherokee people( which I had visited twice, located about 1.5 hours from my friend home in Dalton, Georgia) with the Federal government; and if individual Cherokee refused to go by choice, they were FORCED to do so, on what later became known as The Trail of Tears. Ultimately, all of the Native Americans living within “Indian Territory” had been members of what the American colonists had referred to as the “Five Civilized Tribes“….Native Americans groups from along the southeast sections of America who had tried to get along with the invaders by going along; groups who had converted to Christianity, adopted centralized forms of government (see my posts about New Echota), were literate (see my post about Sequoyah), participated not just in trade but in the market economies of their areas, AND, to top it all off… OWNED SLAVES (see my post about Chief Vann, who maintained a plantation just north of Echota). All of these tactics of compromise ultimate failed, and now… having already been relocated to Indian Territory — which was supposed to be JUST for them… they were removed yet again, forced into reservations, and what had been their land, was now deemed “unassigned,” was given away to white people… who grabbed it in the mad rush described above.0pX+45bmRsucW8VKKr8e9w_thumb_ae3f.jpg

And the bleeding of the tribal lands in Oklahoma has in fact continued to this day so that only 2% of what had been Cherokee Nation land is still under their own control. Now here’s the good news… AFTER I had already driven past this area, on November 27, 2018 the Supreme court heard a case called Carpenter v. Murphy that calls into question whether the tribes of the Five Civilized Nations STILL have sovereignty over its own people on lands that had sort of bled out of their control within the Indian Territory lands in last 100 years.

See…

Washington Post: Half the land in Oklahoma could be returned to Native Americans. It should be.

New York Times: Is Half of Oklahoma an Indian Reservation? The Supreme Court Sifts the Merits

The Atlantic: Who Owns Oklahoma? The Supreme Court must decide the fate of a murderer—and whether roughly half of Oklahoma is rightfully reservation land.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/outlook/2018/11/28/half-land-oklahoma-could-be-returned-native-americans-it-should-be/?utm_term=.d17222df80b3

 

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Yale, British Columbia, Canada

Driving along Canada’s Route 1 (I was heading east, but at the time the road was going due north) I passed through the tiny town of Yale in British Columbia, population 186

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I have to admit, there were items for sale at this place that made me drool… IF I had more room in the car I’d have bought the cow’s skull or the carved wooden bear… but I don’t, and I have no where to store any of it anyway… my storage locker is pretty full.

Fort Hope National Historic Site of Canada, Hope, BC

I traveled through Fort Hope back on July 30, 2016 on my way east to Stratford Canada for the Theater Festival, but never got around to posting the photos… my bad…  The Fort Hope National historic site was at first a trading post, but a year later because of the explosion of the population due to the Fraser River gold rush in 1858, was designated to be a town. Apparently Hope contains what is now the oldest church in Canada, but I didn’t stop to see it. That said, this town is in a BEAUTIFUL spot!!!

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The wind here was VERY strong during my visit, but according to a local I spoke to it’s always like that because Hope is the meeting point between the warm winds of the mainland and the cool winds from Ocean.

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Evergreen Memorial Cemetery, Dorothy’s final resting place, Bloomington, IL

Some Graveyards are worth a visit because of the important people who are buried there. About two blocks off of Route 66 in Bloomington, Illinois is the Evergreen Memorial Cemetery, which is just such a graveyard

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the reason, in my mind, is because it is where THE real Dorothy, Dorthy Gale, she of the Wizard of Oz, is buried…

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Dorothy Louise Gage, born June 11 1898, and died November of that same year.  She was the niece of Frank L Baum, and he made her immortal.

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FINDING the grave wasn’t all that easy.  Just as you come into the graveyard there’s a caretaker’s house, with a map, but it’s not all that easy to follow. There’s also a memorial garden there in her memory, but that’s not the grave.

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In the images below, the top left one shows the statue on the left edge, and the grave (just in front of the tree in the back right corner, in the shade) where it sits between the two green bushes.

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I ended up at first on the road between the plot section at the back edge of the graveyard. From there I found the statue easily enough but it was just far enough from the actual grave as to sort of mislead you (you’re in the right plot, you just can’t spot the grave). So I went back to the house asked various locals visiting their loved ones (who seemed to have no idea that in fact Dorothy was buried there, let alone where), checked the map again, and this time found the road in FRONT of the lot, where the big plaque showing the statue AND the grave is located. With that, and now knowing what the grave looked like, I was able with some effort to find the grave.

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The same graveyard has the graves for Adlai Stevenson (Governor of Illinois from 1948 to 1953, has an expressway named after him) but I don’t care as much about him… He’s just a politician, time will forget about him

Blue Whale, Catoosa, OK

For the life of me I’m not sure WHY the Blue Whale of Catoosa, Oklahoma has become one of Route 66’s must see locations.IMG_1145.jpgIt’s noted on ALL the lists. But, it was built in the early 1970’s, so it’s not even concurrent to the route’s hay-day, and on top of that it’s not even particularly impressive. IMG_1226It started off as a roadside attraction, a sort of very low rent amusement/water park…. (the whale offers multiple ways to slide in to the water) …. but when compared to pretty much ever amusement park or water park out there… I’m talking really really low rent.IMG_1225

AND, considering it’s supposed to be a water slide type thing, you’re not even allowed to swim in the water there anymore…

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It’s fairly close to The Nut House, which also for the life of me doesn’t deserve its acclaim. All I can thing of is that folks traveling the route are sort of desperate for things to see along it at time (there’s really NOT much in the way of mother nature to look at along this stretch of the road) and were grateful for almost anything diverting where they could stop and stretch their legs.

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That said, according to wikipedia it’s actually made it on to TV more than a few times (usually as part of a reality TV show).

The original Route 66’s Rock Creek Bridge, Sapulpa, Oklahoma

This is another one of those places where current maps tell you 66 is one road, when it’s deathly obvious that it’s not. As your driving along on a modern concrete highway bridge, off to the left there’s an antique metal one with a massive Route 66 sign on it.

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I double backed to learn it was two lane bridge, brick paved bridge connected to what was the ORIGINAL route 66 in this area, i.e., the Ozark Trail .

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…and the road that I took to get here is a deviation from that route… which can clearly be seen going off into the distance from the bridge (and cutting the 2nd leg of a sort of V from the road current maps tell me is 66).

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photo shot from the current 66

When I got close to the bridge I found these guys their social media folks who have a blog page for the dogs and their dogs travel Route 66. When I doubled back to the other side I found the same couple with their dogs also trying to get onto the actual 66

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These guys apparently travel all over take photos of their pups lined up in a row, and then sell them to people. I ran into them finishing off their Route 66 collection… they told me they don’t do it as one big trip, they do it section by section as fits their schedules.

Roger “King of the Road” Miller Museum, in Erick, Oklahoma

The king of the road Is no more….‘tis sad. NONE of the web sites that I looked at told me this, heck even GOOGLE… which knows all… didn’t tell me this (when I was charting the trip… between then and now someone informed them, so this closure must be pretty recent) … So when I got there I was pretty nonplussed to discover an empty building with blocked out windows, and when I peaked in all I saw was an empty room.

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you can sort of see where they have scrapped the name off the glass

That said, I was going to seriously cheat on this one anyway. My mom used to bake, that was until she discovered the Sarah Lee factory that was about a 15 minute drive from our house that had an ACTUAL outlet store that sold items that had failed their “perfection” tests… so like the icing was lopsided or the crust was not perfectly flat, etc., which they then sold at a deep discount. From then on, she just bought their stuff and presented it as her own work. That said…

Think of it as a memory of things passed … (pun intended)

Route 66 near Navajo Army Depot is red not black; Bellemont, AZ

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Just west of the Navajo Army Depot in Bellemont, Arizona, where Route 66 officially rejoins I-40, there is an old neglected piece of Road 66 that you can’t really transverse because it no longer all connects (and has been renamed Bellemont Camp Road).

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This is what one of them looks like, it is mostly unused because it dead ends, and is no longer kept up by the government. But because of that we get to see the OLD pavement, and for some reason it’s RED instead of black …

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I had noticed this particular feature of the “OLD 66” before in Oro Grande⁩, ⁨California, this time on a road that had been kept up,  so I couldn’t really get a good look at it. What it looked like was a red road had black top placed over it… but the red was a bit wider so it sort of leaked out the sides

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Personally I’d love to know why

 

 

Bagdad Cafe, Newberry Springs California

Back in the late 1980’s one of my favorite movies was The Bagdad Cafe. It’s a movie about a run down cafe/motel on Route 66, and definitely worth seeing. Anyway, the shooting location, which had been known as the Sidewinder Cafe (before the movie came out) is REAL, although it’s in Newberry Springs (the town of Bagdad which isn’t that far away was leveled after traffic was redirected from Route 66 to I-40, and before traveling the OLD route 66 became a thing) and this week I got to visit it.

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As much as I love me some bumper stickers… I don’t like what they’ve done with the interior of the place

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Harris Ranch; Coalinga, California

San Francisco really isn’t a steak town. Having grown up in Chicago, which IS, the whole time I was living in SF I kept wondering where a girl had to go to get a decent one (seriously in SF you pay a lot for very little when it comes to steak). That place as it turned out, was — according to all my friends — Harris Ranch, an actual cattle ranch (and the largest one on American’s west coast) about halfway between SF and LA off of California Route 5, that is also a store, a hotel, and a gas station.

IMG_5540.jpgThe thing that first strikes you any time you drive past Harris Ranch is that it’s something of an oasis in the desert. IMG_5542

The owners really have built something very grand out here in the middle of not very much, and I often wondered what the cost of it was in terms of their water bill.IMG_0444This is particularly true during the summers when California is traditionally completely dry (seriously, for those who don’t know, it is HIGHLY abnormal for California to get any rain during the summer months), and this is especially true these last few years which have been a growing drought; the greenness of the place really shocks your eyes.

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That said, all along the way I kept seeing signs alongside the road saying things like, “is water wasted when it’s used to grow food?” And “This dust bowl courtesy of the federal government.” There’s apparently a political war going on between the conservationists, the farmers with regards to the water issue… but I don’t have the time or energy to delve into it here. (It’s important to remember that while the cities of California vote mostly democratic, the rural farm areas, such as where Harris Ranch is located tend to vote Republican.

IMG_5539That said, Harris Ranch clearly understand who their customer base is…. namely the rich customers who commute between SF and LA, some of whom are willing to put their money where their mouths are in terms of their concern for the environment by buying insanely expensive electric cars.IMG_0436

That said, there’s something new at Harris which wasn’t there last time I visited… a BBQ option at cheaper prices being sold out of the gas station part of the place.

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Plus a selection of their steaks to go again, from the gas station’s mini-mart. IMG_0445If however you go to the main building (a really gorgeous hacienda type building), you’ll find not only a much bigger gift shop, but a butcher shop section in the gift store that’s about twice as big as what’s in the gas station — with more cut options, sausages, etc.

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In this building there are also three different restaurants. The first is a bar, which offers up alcohol and slightly cheaper cuts of meat.

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The 2nd is a family style restaurant, which is walk in, but again with the slightly cheaper cuts of meat, and a wider menu (to appeal to families) with kids, etc., where you can buy things ‘ala carte

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And then the third option is their high-end restaurant, which normally requires reservations, has only their best cuts of meat, and the main comes with a selection of sides, a soup, etc. (NOT ala carte).

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THIS is where I opted to eat, because in addition to better cuts of meat, which I wasn’t going to eat, it had a wider sea food selection. I got a bowl of gazpacho

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For my drink I had their watermelon iced tea, and then for my main I ordered their scallops dish, which is intended to go ON TOP of the steak… and their vegetable platter.

The Soup was very good… and then I waited 45 minutes for my mains to show up. Finally (when my iPhone’s battery was starting to fail) I called over a waiter and asked “how many hours am I going to have to wait for my main dish?” The waitress who had taken my order over heard, ran over, apologized and then told me it was all her fault, she’d forgotten to put the order in. Her manager then came over said they’d have my food out in a jiffy, and that my bill was on them…. SO they screwed up big time, but as the food was free, I can’t complain too much…

That said, I was pretty unimpressed with everything I ate… So Harris, is great for the steaks but seems to have to get its act together otherwise.

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Apparently they also breed horses

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