By: Julie Dermody | Category: In Our Communities | Issue: May 2007
Doris “Coke” Meyers, great niece of Will Rogers, attends a Pocahontas Club meeting.
Oklahoma is a native land of the red man, where landscapes of rolling hills and wide-open prairies meet. Nature begins as civilization pauses to breathe in the sights, which surround every essence of life. Gentle breezes sweep along the valleys, rushing up hillsides towards unknown destinations, carrying the echoes of history that were once whispered upon the plains. The whispers are the stories passed down from one generation to another, keeping history alive.
As Oklahomans gather to celebrate 100 years of statehood, it is important to remember the heritage that is the foundation of Oklahoma’s history. One such group has been keeping that history alive for over 100 years. Several women of Cherokee origin began a club in 1899, agreeing that it was to be purely social. For their name, they chose our country’s first Indian heroine, the maiden Pocahontas, whose story they found exciting. Thus began the Pocahontas Club. With the ultimate goal of preserving the past for the future, the club continues to thrive through the original members’ granddaughters, great nieces and cousins.
The Pocahontas Club collect states “The pride of our race we will forever cherish that its history and legends will not perish…this torch we pass to those who come our place to take…” Keeping with those words, the members of the Pocahontas Club continue to treasure tribal traditions and keep the past alive for new generations.
The women of the Pocahontas Club have always been advocates of education, whether by teaching, tutoring, mentoring or financing students needing help. For generations, the club has sent clothing and care packages to Indian children in mission orphanages. Toys, magazines, layettes and other items have been given to Indian hospitals, and many students have received scholarships throughout the years. The club has always taken on community projects, although the joy of the Pocahontas Club is the social outlet it provides its members.
Doris “Coke” Meyers, one of the most active Pocahontas members, is the great niece of Will Rogers. At the age of 87, Coke enjoys life and all it has to offer. One of her most cherished activities is being a member of the Pocahontas Club. Coke says, “Keeping our native heritage alive so the children of tomorrow can remember their roots is very important.”
Along with the Pocahontas Club, Coke and her friend Ollie Starr are currently planning an old-fashioned family picnic at the Dog Iron Ranch, the birthplace of Will Rogers. “This picnic is a time where we will be celebrating and honoring members of the Pocahontas Club who are 80 years old and older,” explains Starr. “We want families to attend and experience a little history.” The picnic festivities will begin Saturday, May 19, at 11 a.m.
The picnic’s cost is $10 for adults and $5 for children 12 and under. At the event, a chuck wagon will serve a meal of cornbread, beans, BBQ and fry bread. An assortment of activities will take place, including native games, dances, basket weaving and bead working. “The day is not only a celebration of our elders but of the heritage they hold dear,” said Coke.
The women of the Pocahontas Club have been true role models for Oklahomans through their virtuous history of service to the native and local communities. They live by the Pocahontas motto: “Speak kind words and you will hear kind echoes.”
Show your honor and respect for a group of women who unselfishly gives back to the community and preserves the heritage of Oklahoma’s roots. Attend their old-fashioned picnic Saturday, May 19, beginning at 11 a.m.
For more information about the event, contact co-chairmen Doris “Coke” Meyer at (918) 283-8092 or Ollie Starr at (918) 283-1588.