McAlester News-Capital, McAlester, OK

September 27, 2013

Volunteers prepare for more progress on Choctaw village Saturday

By James Beaty
Senior Editor

McALESTER — Volunteers are hoping to get a lot of work done Saturday on the traditional Choctaw village they are currently building in McAlester’s Hutchison Park —and they’re not letting a forecast of rain dampen their enthusiasm.

“Rain or shine, we’ll be there,” said McAlester News-Capital Publisher Amy Johns, volunteer coordinator for the project.

Plans call for the volunteers to gather at 9 a.m. at Hutchison Park, at Fourth Street and Krebs Avenue, in McAlester’s Old Town, also known as North Town. The park is basically east of the historic J.J. McAlester house and behind the Whistle Stop Bistro.

If necessary, volunteers will take a break for rain, but as of Thursday, weather forecasters were predicting the greatest chance of rain for late afternoon or evening.

Those working together on the project hoped to have a lot of work completed by then.

“We’ve got the framework done,” said Pam Kirby, of the city of McAlester, referring to the framework for the winter hut and several other structures built by volunteers last Saturday.

They are hoping even more volunteers join them this Saturday than helped last weekend.

“If you have a folding ladder, bring it out and help lash the cane and willow to the rooftops,” Kirby said.

Another volunteer, Sam Ward, planned to work on constructing a fire pit at the park on Friday.

Like other volunteers, he’s striving for authenticity in the recreation of the traditional Choctaw village. Les Williston, who works on cultural projects and services for the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma, has been working with the volunteers with an eye toward authenticity.

Johns considers this Saturday’s volunteer work day a great opportunity for local residents to get involved in a community project.

 “We hear so much negative about what people do or don’t do,” Johns said.

“Here’s an opportunity to come together, put politics aside, and build something amazing,” she said.