The Sooner State – Oklahoma

On the side of a road near a Bass Pro shop – that’s where we stayed the night in Oklahoma City.  On the way there, we stopped at Washita Battlefield NHS.  In the 1860’s, after some Native American tribes refused to move onto reservations, many white settlers and gold seekers started to encroach on Native American hunting grounds.  As a result, and not being able to get away, the Native Americans decided to defend their land, and attacks on mining camps, settlements, stagecoaches, and wagon trains ensued.

To combat these attacks, Lt. Col. George Armstrong Custer set out towards Washita River Valley (with an army) where tribes of Cheyenne, Arapaho, Kiowa, Comanche, and Plains Apache had set up winter camps.  Custer had the animals either set loose or killed, and the tribes’ houses were burned, along with all their winter clothing and supplies.  The Native American tribes had lost, and as a result of losing all their winter supplies, were forced to accept reservation life.

Here, we learned all this through the visitor center displays and movie, and we took a short, easy hike.   On the hike, there were patches of grass showing the good effects controlled burning can have on the land.

In Oklahoma City, we went to Oklahoma City National Memorial.  In 1995, a domestic terrorist bombed the city, killing over 160 people and affecting many more.  There was an estimated $652 million of damage, and the people involved in the bombing were caught and punished.  Timothy McVeigh, the one who detonated a truck of explosives and caused the explosion, was executed by lethal injection.  Terry Nichols, who had helped in preparing the bomb, was sentenced to life in prison.  Other accomplices were given time in prison.  What shocked and scared me most was that the people who did this were Americans, part of my country.  They killed and hurt so many people.

The memorial had things like the Reflecting Pool, Survivor Tree, and a field of empty chairs to represent the people lost.  We looked at all of these, did a junior ranger book, then headed to Science Museum Oklahoma.

The science museum was very big.  It had lots of interactive displays on space, noise, music, optical illusions, water, and lots more.  One of the more unique things (one that I’ve never seen at any other science museum) was a segway track, where you can ride segways around a small obstacle course with the help of a staff member.  Another cool thing was a “spider web” made from white string.  Every kid could put up a piece of string, adding to the web and making it bigger.  It was so big that I could walk through it.

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