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Canku Ota

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(Many Paths)

An Online Newsletter Celebrating Native America


November 17, 2001 - Issue 49


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Cherokee Artist Gives Painting to New Museum


 by Ron Jackson The Oklahoman- October 7, 2001


FORT SILL -- Comanche tribal member Jhane Myers speaks with a passionate voice about the American Indian's place in Oklahoma history.

Cherokee Talmadge Davis speaks about the same issue with his paint brush.

The two advocates were brought together Tuesday to further their cause at the future site of the National Army Museum of the Southwest. Myers arrived with her words while Davis came to unveil his painting, "Brothers Gone But Not Forgotten."

The painting, valued at $22,000, depicts a disabled Indian veteran at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. Davis' creation will be displayed at the Fort Sill visitors' center before eventually being hung inside the new $25 million museum off Interstate 44 at Fort Sill.

"It's a very moving painting," said Myers, director of Indian projects for the Oklahoma Centennial Commemoration Commission. "The painting shows that this American Indian was not only part of an unpopular war, but he had to come back home and deal with the fact he was now disabled.

"Indian people have always honored their warriors, whether they were part of a popular war or not."

For Myers, the painting and the museum where it will some day be displayed represent something much greater. Myers tours the state promoting the involvement of Oklahoma's 39 recognized tribes in the state's upcoming centennial celebration in 2007.

She said she views the museum -- still an estimated $8.5 million shy of meeting construction costs -- as one of the most important projects regarding the legacy of Indians in Oklahoma.

"The museum will show how much Indians, especially in this area, contributed to Oklahoma's history," Myers said. "They were much more than prisoners here at Fort Sill. They were scouts, and some were even in the Army before they had the right to vote."

Davis, who served in the Army from 1982 to 1987, uses his talent as an artist to define the Indian's role in the annals of his state and nation. The 39-year-old Tahlequah native describes his mission as a personal journey.

"The Indian in the painting is a friend of mine," Davis said. "I like depicting people I know. They are a group of people I have a lot of respect for."

Davis honors each subject with meticulous research. The names on the memorial wall are the actual names of Indians who died in Vietnam -- all 238 of them.

"Since I began showing the painting at different shows, something incredible has happened," Davis said. "I've actually met 10 of the families whose relative's name is painted on the wall."


     Maps by Travel

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