Indian Women's Pocahontas Club Celebrates Annual 'Hats Off to Will Rogers' Ceremony with Legacy Heritage History Tour November 6, 2021

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For more than 120 years, the Indian Women’s Pocahontas Club has upheld the values, the culture and the customs of the Cherokee people.

Among the club’s traditions are its annual “Hats off to Will” Will Rogers Tribute and Wreath Laying Ceremony, held near Will Rogers’ birthday.

This year, however, the group is adding several surprising tours and new activities to the day of remembrance and celebration.

Will Rogers Memorial Museum, 10 a.m.

Pocahontas Club Executive Director Ollie Starr explains, “The day will be starting at the Will Rogers Memorial Museum, at which we’ll have our regular wreath laying ceremony at 10 a.m. – just like we’ve done since 1944,” Starr said. “After that, we’ll go into the (Will Rogers Theatre) auditorium, where we will have a special guest speaker, Kim Teehee.”

A citizen of the Cherokee Nation, Teehee is director of Government Relations for the Cherokee Nation and senior vice president of Government Relations Cherokee Nation Businesses.

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Wear a Fancy Hat!

Following this will be a musical tribute by the first lady of the country fiddle, Jana Jae, as well as the Haute Hat Contest in remembrance of Will’s wife, Betty Blake Rogers. Attendees are encouraged to join in the fun or cast their ballot. Betty was well-known for always wearing her Haute Hat.

New to the festivities this year, Starr said, will be the inclusion of a trolley, furnished by the City of Claremore.

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Trolley Time, 11:30 a.m.

“At 11:30 a.m., the trolley will be here to take people from the memorial to the J.M. Davis Arms & Historical Museum (at 11:45 a.m.),” she said. “We should get to the gun museum at about 12. Many people may not know that Mr. Davis’s (second) wife, Genevieve was a member of the (Pocahontas) club, and we have an exhibit (at the gun museum, but there is also a new exhibit – a Roy Clark exhibit, where Jana Jae will be, playing a couple of tunes there, as well.”

Big Country 99.5 (radio station) also will be broadcasting that day from the gun museum, through arrangement by VisitClaremore.

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On to the Claremore Museum of History

“From there, we’ll leave that afternoon – again by trolley-- and go to tour the Claremore Museum of History (MoH), where we’ll have seven Native artists on display, courtesy of the Route 66 Native Arts Alliance. We’ll also be receiving a proclamation from the City, which will proclaim it to be Native American Day in Claremore,” Starr said.

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Main Street History

Claremore’s history will further be highlighted, with a trolley trip down Will Rogers Blvd. Main Street and discussion about Claremore’s esteemed past, including drive-by local sites of historical significance and their ties to the Cherokee Nation, culminating with a return to the Will Rogers Memorial for the final evening of the Will Rogers Film Festival.

While the expanded activities of the day were largely due to Starr and the efforts of club members, she gave special thanks to Will Rogers Memorial Museum Director Tad Jones for helping coordinate the day and allowing the group use of the memorial.

“Tad (Jones) is always so awesome, always so welcoming to us – he worked with us to help make the day something extra special this year,” she said. “He’s always been so cordial to us, allowing us to have the wreath laying at the memorial, but we also have a presence at the gun museum and the Claremore museum, so this year, we wanted to bring all of these together to showcase all of our museums. Claremore is very big in historical museums, and all of them are a draw to the public and acknowledge the significance of Native American history and the Cherokee people.”

But as the club has done in the past, the emphasis of the day will be about the Will Rogers family and the history and legacy of the Cherokee Nation.

“In the beginning, the Pocahontas Club was very much social, but over time, it became something different, something to allow members to share knowledge with whoever would listen,” said Pocahontas Club Vice President Celeste Tillery. “That’s what we’re doing – we want people to know what’s available to them – that’s our emphasis now. Some people – even people who live here – may not be aware of everything that’s in Claremore and its rich history.”

The Indian Woman’s Pocahontas Club was founded in 1899 and are the caretakers of Cherokee history and nation from the time of statehood until they were re-established as a nation. Today, there are 215 club members across 17 states.

The Indian Women’s Pocahontas Club’s annual “Hats off to Will” Will Rogers birthday tribute and Wreath Laying Ceremony will be held Saturday, Nov. 6, at the Will Rogers Memorial Museum in Claremore. Activities begin at 10 a.m.

This event is free and open to the public.

For more information, contact Pocahontas Club President Jennifer Brunn at 918-402-3057 or visit

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