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Joe Perry on Faith, Family and Culture, Oklahoma

As told by EAST Students at Poteau KTC
Poteau, Oklahoma

Story Narrative:

EAST students at Kiamichi Technology Center in Poteau, Oklahoma recorded Joe Perry describing what faith, family and culture mean to him as a member of the Choctaw Nation. In addition to creating this story for MoMS' Stories: YES program, students also developed an exhibit at the LeFlore County Museum at Hotel Lowrey with support from the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma. Read more about the project here.

Find the complete transcript at the bottom of this page.

Speaker 1: Faith, to a Choctaw, I mean, and I guess to everybody, it's really personal, but my father was a minister. He started out as a Methodist, and then he switched over to Baptist before Oklahoma was even a state. I was born in 1956, and Dad was 80, no, about, how old was Dad? 74, yeah, Dad was 74, so I was a late bloomer, I guess, you know, but he never pushed his religion on us, but it was just something that he lived, and he was an example to us, and part of that faith was there was an old saying back in the day that if you shared someone's salt, you shared their troubles and their problems, too, so Dad kinda brought us up on that, and anybody who came to the house was just automatically fed.

Speaker 1: [1:21] Ours was kind of a revolving door back then, and that was just part of the faith and part of the tradition that when people come to your doorstep, if they was hungry, Dad and Mom fed 'em. That was just it. The faith and the culture nowadays, the Choctaw has kinda adopted the white way to worship, and there's a, the culture's changed so much that even as when I was a kid, when Miko, that's the chief, when Miko called or talked, everybody just shut up and listened, and when Tuskahoma came around, that was more of a religious ceremony then, when I was a kid, but now it's more commercial and it's just like a fair or a party or something, and when Miko speaks now, the last time we was there, I noticed the younger generation was on their phones texting or, but when he spoke back in the day, everybody stopped what they was doing and listened, and the last Choctaw walk we went on from Skullyville to the center out there, the chief started off walking, but I noticed several people passing him up like it was a competition, and back then, our culture, the early, you know, the last of the culture, I think this is the last generation, really, because I watch the young people and they don't think the same way we did.

Speaker 1: [2:55] But I noticed several people passing up the chief, and that wasn't, if he slowed down, we was supposed to slow down. He speeded up, we walked faster, but that wasn't, and so I think that was my last walk. And then we was at a, and see this all, the faith and the culture is intermingled together, because the way we was taught is completely different from the way the young folks perceive it now. I mean, you go to church now, and it's anything goes, but back then you went to worship, and the services there, they could take all day and nobody complained. They'd stop for lunch, and they'd, I don't know, some of the older Indian ladies, I wasn't too much, didn't get too involved with the Methodist.

Additional content in transcript . . .

Asset ID: 8542
Themes: Crossroads, Native American, foodways, religion, familly, spirituality, history, Key Ingredients, education, school
Date recorded: 2019
Length of recording: 11:18 m
Related traveling exhibition: Crossroads: Change in Rural America
Sponsor or affiliated organization: EAST (Education Accelerated by Service & Technology) Kiamichi Technology Center, Poteau, Oklahoma
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