I have the honor of leading a discussion group this week with the Enid Public Library’s “One Book, One Community” on Saturday, October 7, 2017, 9:00 a.m. at the Railroad Museum of Oklahoma in Enid. Like minds all over Enid, Stillwater and other communities will be discussing the life and literature of Angie Debo, Oklahoma historian. There are several opportunities for you to get involved in this worthwhile project. There will be programs about her life and works and discussions about the book Prairie City: The Story of an American Community. It was one of thirteen books she published about Oklahoma. The final gathering will be at the Enid Symphony Hall with a performance by Will Hill, “Legends Nagonagogee.” http://enid.okpls.org/enidreads/
Angie Debo was a woman ahead of her time. Born before the first Oklahoma Land run, she lived 98 years and welcomed in a new century. She watched the prairies of Oklahoma turn to large cities while the Native Americans were left behind. In her book And Still the Waters Run she pointed out the cheating of the Five Civilized Tribes after the Trail of Tears. With the passage of the Dawes Act in 1887, the land was purchased back from the tribes, and the members were then swindled out of their private parcels. Debo named prominent people who perpetrated the crimes and not only was her book almost not published, she received death threats after.
I made a trip to Marshall, OK, home of Angie Debo and the subject of the book Prairie City, to get a feel for the place. I wanted to see the Oklahoma prairie where she grew up and try to imagine it as she saw in in a covered wagon. Marshall is not yet a ghost town, it is still occupied. But most of the businesses are gone and the downtown area, with its wide streets meant for commerce, is all but deserted. We traveled the couple of miles to the cemetery outside of town to find the final resting place for the woman who was inducted into the Oklahoma Hall of Fame, acclaimed as Oklahoma’s greatest historian. Her tombstone said it all: “Discover the Truth and Publish it.” She did.
Thank you, Angie Debo, for your labor of love about the great state of Oklahoma and its inhabitants.