Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Red Rock Canyon, Indian Tribes and the Oklahoma Land Run

April 19 - 22, 2017:

It was 140 miles struggling with gusty winds all the way.  We crossed over into Oklahoma after about 30 miles and it became wide open flat green cattle ranches for miles and miles interspersed with oil pump jacks.  We passed through a couple of areas that I would like to return to, another time perhaps ?  Also a town, Anadarko, that I return to later.

Our destination, the Red Rock Canyon State Park, in Hinton, Oklahoma is a small park situated in a beautiful red rock canyon.  The canyon walls here are a popular rock climbing and rappelling site.  This area once was a winter camp for the local indian tribes as it is very protected with a creek flowing through it.  The canyon also became a landmark for travelers on the California Road during the Gold Rush days.  The California Road trail in the park follows a section of the old road where you can still see the wagon ruts.  I did the trail and have a hard time believing they used this as a road although in a few places the cuts in the rocks do look like wheel ruts.  Another trail in the park, the Rough Horsetail trail, goes through a marshy area covered with Horse -Tail Ferns that were used as pot scrubbers by the pioneers.  The trail ends at a pond created by water pouring off the end of the box canyon.


The road through the State Park

There are many areas where steps are cut in the
canyon wall to climb up, but way to vertical to do without

ropes unless you are spider man


This Dam on the creek creates a small lake

View from the canyon rim

Many great wildflowers along the trails


Horn Tail Fern

Pond at trails end

Wagon ruts on the California Road

Each evening at dusk we here the distinctive hoot of a Barred owl who sits in a tree top in the canyon behind our campsite.  Originally I thought it was one Owl, but later I heard a second Owl in the distance and realized they were communicating back and forth.

The town of Hinton is all about agriculture, ranching and oil.  Their claim to fame is that they had the first Rodeo in Oklahoma.  There is now two Casino's and a Hotel situated within 5 miles at the junction of interstate 40.


First Rodeo in Oklahoma

Downtown Hinton 

Hinton mural

It’s wet and humid here, something we aren’t accustomed to anymore and rain and thunderstorms are forecast for the next two days.  As it was cloudy, we decided it was a good day to go to Oklahoma City to the Oklahoma History Center.  This is a great museum that covers with detail every aspect of Oklahoma history from the indigenous Indian days to the present time. After about three and a half hours we were worn out, this history is intense.  Our lives today are simple and very safe in comparison to the crazy goings on during the period of westward expansion, the cattle drives, the Indian wars, the relocation of the Indians to the reservations, the various broken treaties and subsequent land grabs by the settlers, the greed, the killings, the outlaws and then World wars.


Wiley Posts famous plane

Famous space capsule, I believe this to be one that
local astronaut Tom Safford flew


Buffalo Charley inherited from his father the designs of the "Tipi 
with the battle pictures" and his position as "calendar keeper" 
in which he updated  the Tipi paintings


The famous "Tipi with the battle paintings

Annual events were recorded with paintings on the Tipi

Settlers faced many hardships on the Land Run
but also had much oppurtunity for a better life

While the Indians way of life was taken away

It was a harsh environment and sometimes the settlers lost 

A total of 39 Indian tribes were relocated to reservations in Oklahoma and are still here. Looking at an early map, most of the Oklahoma was Indian reservations.  Many of these tribes had been decimated by war, starvation and disease and were unable to sufficiently inhabit the allotted lands.  This resulted in land deemed surplus that was taken back and opened up to settlers amidst much greed and corruption.  That's how the west was won !


Map showing Oklahoma Indian reservations
  
I have started to read “The last of the Mohicans” which is slow going and difficult due to the old flowery manner of writing.  It is really appropriate to much of what we saw in the museum exhibits and very appropriate to Oklahoma, which is sort of the repository for all the sad broken tribes of our countries Indigenous peoples.  Something to think about; for two centuries the Comanche tribe ruled a vast area here, as the Mohicans did in the east, for a longer period than the United States has to date, then they were decimated within a few decades.  If History does really repeat itself, our time will come ?

I travel back to the town of  Anadarko which is centered in Indian country.  It is the self titled "Indian Capital of the Nation" but from what I saw that isn't very flattering.  Anadarko is surrounded by the Wichita, Caddo, Lenape, Kiowa, Comanche and Apache reservations.  There are many attractive old buildings along its main street, but it’s definitely a poor town that has seen better days.  The Redskin Theater is still open but could use some help, while the Miller Theater a block away appears ready for the wrecking ball.


Main Street Anadarko

There are several murals in Anadarko

This is a great one

The Redskin Theater
Several buildings with nice stone and brick work
This is true !

I then wander into the Anadarko post office with a feeling it might contain some art work and find a treasure trove of 1930’s indian artist paintings.  When I ask the postal employee about them, he didn’t seem to know anything about them but offers a brochure on the counter that explains them.  They were done by a few local noteworthy Indian artists in the late 1930’s.


The Post Office

There are about a dozen mural in this style around the walls

They are all beautiful

It’s lunch time, I’m hungry and I see many people going into a nice looking cafe called the “Soda Fountain Eatery”.  Inside, I find out why everyone in town seems to be there, it’s that great.  

On the return a few miles outside of Anadarko, I pass the Delaware Lenape Tribe’s "Sugar Creek Casino".  I had no idea that a faction of this east coast tribe ended up here.  They were the original indigenous Indian tribe back in the New Jersey-NewYork, Pennsylvania area.  My fathers farm may have once been their land so I didn’t feel bad losing $10 in their slots.


Gold River Casino

I pass by the "Wichita and Associated Tribes" modern museum, it wasn't open, but took a look at the two traditional huts on the property.



Tribal seal

Wichita huts

Continuing on, I pass through the town of Binger.  It’s a poor farm town with one thing that makes it special.  It is the birthplace of Hall of Fame baseball catcher Johnny Bench.  They even have a Johnny Bench Museum in town.

The next stop was the town of Gracemont where I found a couple of sights.



Bailey's service station mural

Nice old tin front on building

I haven’t gone out for breakfast anywhere in a long time and the Main Street Cafe in downtown Hinton looked like the “down home” kind of place I normally like.  It turned out to be clean, friendly and the food was very good. In fact it was the best breakfasts I’ve had in a long time.

Original route 66 runs through the town of Weatherford about 20 miles from Hinton.  I went but was disappointed as most of the downtown buildings appeared to have been faced with newer bricks years ago.  Also there were no neons lights, murals, nostalgic signs and overall it was pretty boring.  In fact I didn’t see any much reason to take any photos, but I could't leave totally empty handed.


Route 66 theme Diner

The town of Hydro is nearby which I found to be way more photogenic with a huge grain elevator and a folksy central business district.


Grain Elevator in Hydro

And a classic small downtown

My tour ends with a stop at the Cherokee Trading Post where I leave with a souvenir Oklahoma tee shirt.


The Cherokee Trading Post

Since arriving in Hinton, we have had about 2 inches of rain, wicked winds, lightning and thunder storms with small hail. I keep reminding myself, we are in Tornado Alley, it can get much worse.  If it gets too scary for us, you may see us put in a long steady drive, North, East or West to get out of harms way. 

Next stop is Guthrie, Oklahoma;

Twinkles and Slick

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