Will Rogers, Pawnee Bill and The Pochahantas Indian Women’s Club

History continues to be made on the Cross Bell Ranch….

                 Down The Road with the Original Buffalo Dale

 Welcome back.  Elder Care’s The Good, The Bad and The Barbeque drew close to 1,000 people on Saturday night as folks came out to support an organization which we’re all moving closer to needing every day. Once again Dink’s did a stand up job with dinner and Les Gilliam and the Silver Lake Band kept the dance floor full all night long. Gene Autry had a big influence on their western swing sound and if you get a chance to hear them you don’t want to miss it.

As usual local volunteers played a big part in the success of the evening from set-up on Thursday to the tear down on Sunday. You can imagine that with hundreds of folding chairs, dozens of tables and a tent as big as several houses, the volunteers get all the credit for pulling off another wonderful evening.

With that party now behind us this week, there are several other events coming up that you want to put on your calendar.  Here’s the skinny on one of them that you won’t want to miss if you’re a Will Rogers fan. As a young boy Will and his friends had heard of a new social club in Claremore whose members were all Cherokee “Indian Maidens” as they were described in the Claremore Progress newspaper on July 29, 1899. At the time the club held regular dances that were quite popular. After going to several of the dances, Will and his friends were soon made honorary members and Rogers would perform whenever the club met. At first both men and women could be members and then in 1937 it became for women only. Throughout the years the club met in various locations and finally in 1982 Cherokee Chief Ross Swimmer dedicated the Pocahontas Room in the Cherokee complex at 202 Santa Rosa Boulevard in Claremore as their permanent meeting place. The plaque on the wall reads:

Dedicated to the Pocahontas Indian Women’s Club

Founded June 28, 1899

Cooweescoowee District, Cherokee Nation

Presented by Ross O. Swimmer, Principal Chief

Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma, September 28, 1982

Why am I writing about this now? Well this Saturday at 10:30 AM the Pocahontas Indian Women’s Club is holding their 7th annual “Old Fashioned Picnic” at the Dog Iron Ranch in Oolagah which is Will Rogers’ birthplace. There will be music, a hog fry and a big auction as well as all kinds of traditional Cherokee games including stickball, Cherokee marbles and hatchet throwing which I am personally pretty good at.

Several dignitaries plan to attend including Principal Chief of the Cherokees Bill John Baker and renowned artist Gary Henson whose work is known around the world. And here’s one more very important thing: it’s free! That’s right, thanks to the Pocahontas Indian Women’s Club the food, entertainment and games are all free. The ranch house will be open for tours and my good friend Coke Meyer will be on hand to tell stories of her travels with her great-uncle and one of the most beloved men of his era, Will Rogers. I’ll leave you with one more word about this 114 year old club. They have provided support for the education of Cherokee students longer than any other organization on record. If Will Rogers was an active member of this club I’d say this is a party I don’t want to miss.

Another piece of history that is now gone by is the role of Pawnee Bill as played by Wayne Spears of Pawnee who recently died. Many of you have seen him at events in the area, always accompanied by his perfectly trained Leopard Appaloosa and his likeness is on billboards around the state. I worked with Wayne many times over the years and even bought a spotted horse from him. I promise you he will be missed by many of us.

Till next time I’ll see you down the road……



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