McAlester News-Capital, McAlester, OK

October 7, 2013

Choctaw Village dedicated during Wild West Festival

By MJ Brickey
McAlesterNews.com

McALESTER — At the Wild West Festival in McAlester on Saturday, the scheduled dedication of the Choctaw Village at Hutchison Park took place promptly at 11 a.m. under the C.W. “Shorty” Repass North Town (Old Town) Picnic Shelter at the same time the Old Town Reunion was under way.

Ward 5 McAlester City Councilor Buddy Garvin opened the ceremony to more than 30 people. He gave greetings and said, “The Mayor is supposed to be here, but I haven’t seen him.”

Laughter broke out after Mayor Steve Harrison, dressed in wild western wear with a huge handlebar mustache spoke up and said, “I’m right here beside you, Buddy!”

Garvin said he didn’t even recognize the mayor and said, “You are incognito.”

With smiles and continued good spirits, Garvin and Harrison both thanked the Choctaw Nation and Choctaw Tribal Councilor Bob Pate for their involvement and participation in the construction of the village site.

The Choctaws helped to ensure the authenticity of the village, built by volunteer labor .

Pate thanked the crowd and praised the project. He said he too has enjoyed the experience.

The Choctaw Dancers were present and performed traditional Choctaw dances within the Choctaw Village site as part of the dedication ceremony.

Local volunteers who worked on the Choctaw Village project included McAlester News-Capital Publisher Amy Johns, who organized two volunteer work days to help construct the village.

Prior to construction, Johns and Old Town Association President Eddie Gray and city of McAlester representatives met with Pate as well as with Choctaw Nation Executive Director of Cultural Services Sue Folsum, Choctaw Nation Marketing Director Lana Sleeper and Choctaw Nation Director of Cultural Services Kay Jackson to plan the project.

Contact MJ Brickey by email at mjbrickey@journalist.com.