By: Lorrie Ward Jackson | Category: Other | Issue: May 2010
Lili Hale, Pocahontas Club member dressed in traditional Cherokee garb, stands in front of the YL37 Marine Sikorsky UH-34 D Viet Nam helicopter, which will be on display at the club’s annual picnic on May 15.
It is one of the longest running traditions in Rogers County: the Pocahontas Club’s annual picnic. It began in 1899, with a group of young Cherokee ladies home from their stays at the Cherokee Female Seminary, clad in lovely dresses with parasols in hand. The parasols and summer dresses have long since faded from style, but the tradition of a summer picnic has held fast for over 100 years.
This year’s celebration, to be held May 15 at the Will Rogers Rodeo Grounds on Blue Starr Drive, promises to hold extra significance, as it will be in honor of those who have helped uphold such traditions over the years – our country’s veterans.
“We would love to encourage all the veterans and their families to attend,” says Ollie Starr, Pocahontas Club president. “Everyone, bring your American flags to wave.”
The Pocahontas Club and Blue Star Mothers are working together to honor veterans at the picnic. The Blue Star Mothers will be on hand to collect items to send to American soldiers who are currently serving. Picnic attendees are encouraged to donate such items as disposable razors, small size shampoos and conditioners, deodorant, baby wipes, toilet paper, toothpaste and dental floss. For a full list of items, visit www.rogerscounty bluestarmothers.com.
Ollie feels that it is only proper that the Pocahontas Club honor our veterans, as the club’s beginnings date beyond both of the World Wars. And she points out that Native Americans have been a larger part of the United States military history than most people realize. “Native Americans have always defended this country and have always been proud to do so,” she says. “They often do not get the recognition they deserve.”
The picnic will kick off with a Square Dance exhibition at the Will Rogers Rodeo Grounds. “This is important,” says Ollie, “because the first social activity of the Pocahontas Club was a square dance in the loft of a barn.” Next, Bartlesville’s own Lenny Baker will do a one-man piano show from 10 a.m. to noon, performing war-era musical selections to honor the veterans.
At noon, guests will be treated to a traditional hog fry, prepared by the Shot Pouch family. The family is made up of four brothers and two sisters who cook hog, potatoes, beans and fry bread. Thelda Boen, vice president of the Pocahontas Club, reports that the Shot Pouch family has been doing hog fries for over three decades, and points out it is worth showing up early to watch the process. “People should come and see how this is done,” she says. “They start at 8 a.m., building fires under their black kettles. It is very fascinating to watch.”
Another interesting sight at the Pocahontas Club annual picnic will appear in the form of a YL37 Marine Sikorsky UH-34 D Viet Nam helicopter, courtesy of the surviving members of HMM-362 Squadron – “The Flying Angels” of the Viet Nam War. The helicopter, called “The Flying Memorial,” will be on display at the Rodeo Grounds throughout the day of the picnic, offering another piece of history to this traditional day. The helicopter not only honors veterans, but Native Americans as well, since the crew chief, the late Bill Factor, was a Cheyenne/Arapaho chief.
Ollie Starr expects this event to have a great turnout and suggests that attendees bring extra lawn chairs, as the crowd is expected to overflow the building at the Rodeo Grounds. “It is an honor to be a part of this celebration of the Pocahontas Club,” she says. “It is truly an honor to be a representative of our Cherokee heritage and of the Indian club that traces its heritage back to the Dawes Roll.”