Oklahoma has been home to many Native American Tribes since the 19th century with the Ossage tribe among the first to settle on the land, on which the city of Claremore now stands. Okla and humma are two words in the Choctaw tribe – who were among the early settlers to the land – that translates as “red people” and this is where the name of the state itself is derived from. The Native American tribes made a huge impact on the area and much of their legacy remains today with many aspects of the region having been heavily influenced by these original tribes and there is still a large population of Native Americans in the state today, although numbers have decreased considerably over the past fifty years or more. However, many people today do not realize how hard it has been for Native Americans who have been driven from their lands and persecuted for centuries. In Claremore, Native American citizens make up just over fourteen percent of the population today and until 1924, they were not even classed as American Citizens, then it was almost another forty years later before they were given the right to vote.
Oklahoma’s flag can be found flying on various official buildings throughout Claremore and this is one of the USA’s most distinctive flags. During the Civil War, the Choctaw soldiers carried a flag that was sky blue in color and this forms an integral part of the state’s flag. This field of blue is embossed with an Osage Indian battle shield, constructed from buffalo skin and decorated with eagle feathers and white crosses. The latter are deemed to represent stars in the sky, a symbolism associated with a higher calling according to the cultural beliefs of the Native Americans. This shield also contains two other symbols, synonymous with this culture and these are a gray calumet which is a traditional peace pipe and an olive branch, the universal symbol of peace that depicts the same connotations within the Native American tribes.
Across the state, at the turn of the last century the Native American Church was set up with the purpose of combining peyote – which is an ancient Indian ritual practiced – and Christianity, with the aim of promoting strong morals and individual self respect. Like many other Christian orientated organization this church encourages integral family values, monogamy, responsibility for oneself and one’s neighbors and hard work while the consumption of alcohol is not permitted. The use of peyote in these ceremonies was gradually prohibited from the 1920’s onwards and in 1940 the Navajo Tribal Council banned it altogether across its reservations. The Native American Church of the United States was officially formed in 1944 and this is the church that continues to play a significant part in the lives of Native Americans around the state today.