26th Annual OIW Assembly
August 25-28, 2005
The Fort Sill Assembly
Fort Sill, Oklahoma
Nearly 50 people turned out for the 26th Annual Assembly of the Order of the Indian Wars, held at Fort Sill, Oklahoma. If you weren’t among them, you really missed out. Our speakers gave outstanding presentations. The facilities were as good as we’ve ever had – the Officer’s Club was the home of our presentations, one lunch and two incredible dinners – would you believe a New York strip steak with a pork loin! The second banquet was all you could eat barbecue – four kinds of meat.
Towana Spivey, Director/Curator of the Fort Sill National Landmark and Museum, shared with us his encyclopedic knowledge about the fort and the area. We went from pre-white man conflict between rival tribes in the area to the only nuclear cannon to ever fire an atomic shell- the famous Atomic Annie. We were shown uniforms (among the most complete collections in the country), arms and even a 7th Cavalry guidon taken at the Little Big Horn.
Our tour covered the “old” post – Fort Sill is the only post in the country with two parade grounds and two flagpoles. Many of the buildings are restored and house individual museums. Fort Sill was home to the Buffalo Soldiers as well as the "L troop" experiment. "L" troops were Indian enlisted soldiers, not scouts. Hugh L. Scott commanded "L" troop of the 7th Cavalry while at Fort Sill. Descendents at the post keep alive the proud heritage.
In the armory, in addition to weapons, Towana gave us a look at the priceless collection of Indian artifacts owned by the museum. The public is seldom allowed to view these items – we are deeply in Towana’s debt.
Of course we visited the grave site of Geronimo where we were given not only a tour of the many famous Indian gravesites, but some wonderful stories about Geronimo told by Towana. No trip to Fort Sill would be complete without a visit to the Indian Arlington. In the middle of the post sits a cemetery that is the final resting place of Cynthia Ann Parker, her son Quanah, Satanta and many other notable Indian warriors.
The two off-post trips were equally memorable. The first day we went to the Cowboy Hall of Fame Museum to see the Joe Grandee exhibit. Joe’s collection of arms and equipment of the Indian fighting army is among the very best and certainly is the best presented such collection. There were many other
delights there - our visit was much too short.
With Neil Mangum and Bob Rae as guides, we visited Fort Reno and the Anadarko Agency. At Fort Reno a living history re-enactor portraying the scout, Ben Clark, entertained us.
Sunday was spent in the Washita Battlefield area near Cheyenne, Oklahoma. We started the day at the Black Kettle Museum in Cheyenne. This is an excellent museum for a town of 700! We then went down the street to Los Cusuelas Restaurant for lunch. Member Lynda Lucas set up the luncheon, and it was a hit with all. When you look up Cheyenne, Oklahoma on Google, you will find it is famous for United States Congressman Frank Lucas. Lynda had pull at the restaurant – she waits tables there on the weekends. She even had to agree to work that day! With all of the bad publicity our Congress is getting, it restores one’s faith to know Frank and Lynda Lucas. Frank’s help (as a Congressman from Oklahoma) certainly greased wheels at Fort Sill – thanks Frank. After lunch we toured Washita Battlefield with both Jerry Greene and Neil Mangum leading tour. The staff at the site was quite content to let Neil and Jerry take over. It was clear the Park Service values the experience of these two. It was good to see the progress being made – the next time we are there, we’ll go through a new visitors’ center. Much of the thanks will be due to Congressman Lucas.
Our last stop again featured the dynamic duo of Frank and Lynda – plus her father, Larry Bradshaw. The Lucas’ threw a delightful party for the entire group at the Bradshaw ranch. Larry’s spread adjoins the Washita Battlefield site. Under the shade of a magnificent tree, we partook of refreshments. Frank’s chief of staff makes the world’s best peanut patties! The contributions of both Frank and Lynda put this conference over the top. The trip home was very quiet, as this was a tired bunch.