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Jonita Mullins is a unique purveyor of Oklahoma history and heritage. Working in the genres of both fiction and nonfiction writing, the field of historic preservation, and as owner of Okie Heritage Tours, she brings the important history of our area and state to life. Her recent nonfiction work, “Oklahoma Originals” (The History Press, 2019), tells the tale of the diverse individuals who confronted the challenge of life in the Twin Territories in its early days.

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In August of 1905, the chiefs of the Five Tribes called for a statehood convention to be held in Muskogee. In seven months, March 1906, the federal government would require the dissolution of their tribal governments and would press the Indians to join the Union as a state. The question at that time was whether Indian Territory would be a separate state from Oklahoma Territory or if they would join together to form one state.

When President Abraham Lincoln abolished the practice of slavery in the United States, he brought America closer to the ideals of “liberty and justice for all” that this country stands for. Emancipation – the guaranteed freedom of everyone living in America – is an important milestone to celebrate.

On June 24, 1898, a group of Indian Territory men took part in one of the first battles of the Spanish-American War on a hot tropical day in Cuba. The United States had entered into the war in aid of Cuba’s fight for independence from Spain. President William McKinley commissioned an all-volunteer cavalry unit to send to Cuba. The plan was for this unit to be filled with men from the western territories – Arizona, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Indian Territory.

In 1880, a Texas cattleman named William “Billy” Washington settled on the north side of the Red River after marrying a Chickasaw woman. He formed a partnership with a Chickasaw citizen named Dick McLish and began to amass land and cattle. Washington eventually built one of the largest outfits in the Chickasaw Nation.