Tuesday, March 16, 2021
The challenge of getting our first Americans vaccinated against COVID 19
I grew up in eastern Oklahoma, a short drive from the tribal seat of the Cherokees. Neighbors near my block were Osage, and 2//3 of my Muskogee (Creek ) elementary school classmates were registered on a tribal roll.. mostly Cherokee and some Choctaw. In grade school, we were taught Cherokee history from the Cherokee perspective. The most famous Cherokee was Sequoia (Geroge Guess, his English name, after which the famous trees were named. These were city folks, well integrated into the modern anglo culture, but back in the hills east of us, the foothills of the Ozarks, lived most of the tribal members., Osages were in the hilly country near Tulsa to the west, as well. They were rural and scattered, and many were still speaking their tribal languages. That was in the mid to late 1940s...only a 100 years since their great grandparents were force-marched in the 1840s on the Trail of Tears from Southeastern US to Indian Territory (later Oklahoma). Their sin was becoming civilized in the white men's ways and they were occupying and farming land coveted by the White majority lusting for expansion into tribal lands suitable for growing cotton. They were called the Civilized Tribes, Cherokees, Choctaws, Chickasaws, Seminoles, and Creeks. Muskogee was the location of the Indian Agency.. the federal government..for the 5 tribes. The Osages near Tulsa had wisely maintained mineral rights in their oil-rich tribal lands but the Five Civilized Tribes engaged in agriculture and hunting and oil was not abundant. Per this interesting article, 70 years later there are many still living the old ways and face challenges in the attempt of tribal leaders to get them vaccinated against COVID 19 My father was a transplant from Colorado, sent there to manage Southwestern Bell's telephone service for northeastern Oklahoma, and I have treasured my early life in Indian country. I am sure it shaped my sympathy for those who had been treated unfairly.