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Stillwater Public Library Hosts Unveiling of New Debo Statue Nov. 18 at 2 p.m.
By Tourism Industry Partner
(STILLWATER, OKLA. / Nov. 8, 2010) –– The public is invited to the unveiling and dedication of the new Angie Debo statue at the Stillwater Public Library, 1107 S. Duck St., Thursday, Nov. 18 at 2 p.m. Oklahoma State University President Burns Hargis will serve as master of ceremonies and Oklahoma City University President Robert Henry will speak.
Because the base of the Debo statue features the seals of the 38 federally recognized Oklahoma Native American tribes, a Native American prayer and blessing by Dr. Pete Coser with helper Checotah Powless will be offered during the dedication.
According to Library Director Lynda Reynolds this project has been a work in progress since late 2007 when former Stillwater Public Library Director Della Bennett made a donation to the Friends of the Stillwater Public Library.
“The Friends wanted to do something special with Della’s donation. After committing additional funds they formed a community-wide committee to investigate the possibility of having a sculpture at the Stillwater Public Library,' Reynolds explained.
The committee, chaired by Friends past-president Bob Darcy, then sent out a nationwide request for proposals seeking a sculpture that would “evoke a combination of libraries, reading, Stillwater, and/or Oklahoma.”
The committee received 16 proposals from 11 artists across the U.S. and was thrilled with Stillwater artist Phyllis Mantik’s proposal for a statue of famed Oklahoma historian Dr. Angie Debo (1890-1988).
Darcy said, “We loved the idea of honoring Dr. Debo. She is internationally recognized for her research concerning Oklahoma’s Native Americans, her portrait hangs in a place of honor at the State Capitol, and she is a local treasure. She was the maps curator at the OSU Library, and her hometown was in nearby Marshall. We don't think there's a sculpture of Debo anywhere else in the nation.”
Mantik chose to depict Debo as a young woman to focus on her character and highlight that at an early age she chose the life of a scholar rather than what was expected for a woman of her time.
The Stillwater Public Library Trust agreed to accept donations for the sculpture and received the first donation in May 2009.
Donations, which exceeded $50,000, came from the community, Oklahoma Native American tribes and personal acquaintances of Dr. Debo.
In-kind contributions also paid for a newspaper publication featuring Dr. Debo that was distributed to Oklahoma school children and the statues' concrete base.
Leading up to the unveiling of the new statue the Stillwater Public Library and its partners have been presenting “One Book, One Community: Stillwater Reads Angie Debo’s Prairie City.”
Reynolds said, 'This has been a popular series and the public have shown a real interest in the First Lady of Oklahoma History. We hope the community will be able to come to this ceremony.
About Dr. Angie Debo:
Angie Debo (1890-1988) was a child when her parents moved to Marshall, Oklahoma Territory in 1899, ten years after the land was opened by the 'Run of 1889.' She saw a rough frontier evolve into an active vigorous state and remembered well what she observed. Debo was a lady with strong beliefs who followed her convictions, which led her to write about the history of Oklahoma, of Marshall, and of American Indians and the relations between them and the federal government.
Debo's research projects were numerous. Paramount among them was the research in preparation for publication of 'And Still the Waters Run,' which exposed the injustices suffered by the Five Civilized Tribes at the hands of the federal and state officials. This book and her 'The Road to Disappearance: A History of the Creek Indians' served as a basis for a landmark U.S. Supreme Court decision, 'Harjo vs. Kleppe,' in which important land rights for the Creek nation were recognized.
Debo was sincere about being factual. She made notes in her books and journals, and worked with her publishers to incorporate corrections into subsequent printings of her books. In her 85th year Debo finished writing 'Geronimo,' her last book. During her career she wrote nine books about history, especially that of Oklahoma and Native Americans, co-authored another, and edited three more. Through the years she also made speeches on a variety of topics and contributed numerous articles and reviews to newspapers, dictionaries, encyclopedias, and periodicals.
In her later years Debo traveled widely to speak and to meet people of other countries. Very concerned about civil rights, she was active in the American Civil Liberties Union and its Oklahoma chapter and was directly involved in lobbying congress to obtain water rights for the Pima and Havasupai Indians in Arizona and land for the Alaska Natives.
Debo received numerous honors and awards. Among them was what she called her 'public hanging,' the dedication of her portrait that hangs in the rotunda of the Oklahoma State Capitol. She was the subject of an oral history project from 1981 to 1985 and of a PBS television documentary in 1988 entitled 'Indians, Outlaws, and Angie Debo,' which aired as part of the American Experience Series.
Debo received the American Historical Association's Award for Scholarly Distinction in 1987. It was presented to her by Governor Henry L. Bellmon in a special ceremony in January 1988 in Marshall, Okla. where she lived until her death on Feb. 21, 1988.
She bequeathed her papers, books, and literary rights to Oklahoma State University, 'with the sincere wish that anything which proves worth keeping in this bequest will be of use to future students of the University.'
Director, Marketing and Public Relations
City of Stillwater