Off the Wall: Sooner or Later a State

Welcome to Off the Wall. We’ve skimmed the news around the museum, and want to share the highlights with you.

Written while finding out what career I should actually have (I got astronaut).



Honestly, I’m going to jump right in and say that if you take nothing else away from today’s post, take this: Cotton Candied Bacon. You know what we call that in the writing world? An interest catcher. In fact, Cotton Candied Bacon is probably considered an interest catcher in any world. You look a little confused, so I should probably back up. October 6 is the public opening reception for our fall exhibition, Picturing Indian Territory, 1819-1907. This exhibition will be the first of its kind: a scholarly examination of the history of the state of Oklahoma, including Indian and Oklahoma Territories as they existed prior to statehood. The history of Oklahoma is unquestionably unique, and its status as a residence for displaced Native American tribes drew fascination from 19th-century artists looking to depict ‘undiscovered’ frontiers and the culture of Western territories.


Picturing Indian Territory will look back in time at the people, land, and history of Oklahoma–as they were seen by artists, illustrators, and journalists from 1819-1907. If you’re good with dates, you’ll notice that this encapsulates the inception of Indian Territory (1834), Oklahoma Territory (1890), and finally the combination of the two that resulted in the state of Oklahoma (1907). If you’re not good with dates, make some flash cards because there will be a quiz at the end.


Picturing Indian Territory is not a survey of Oklahoman or Native artists who resided in the territories from 1819-1907. It’s from the perspective of non-residents–outsiders who had their noses pressed against the glass of Indian and Oklahoma Territories, and whose work reflects an outsider’s point of view. These ‘outsiders’ include people like George Catlin and Frederic Remington–artists who shaped our modern-day perception of the American West, and came to define our mental image of Indian and Oklahoma Territories. Picturing Indian Territory walks visitors through the development of that image–from its earliest depictions in 1819 to a well-established and accepted perception that most of us have today.


The paintings, drawings, and illustrations feature recognizable Oklahoma landmarks like the Wichita Mountains, the Red River, and Fort Reno. There are also depictions of the state’s historical figures, including Pawnee Bill, Quanah Parker, and Geronimo. Famous moments in Oklahoma history are also pictured: boomers and sooners participating in land runs, battles and diplomatic resolutions, posed portraits of Native sitters, and images of everyday life on the plains. Picturing Indian Territory, 1819-1907 was co-curated by the museum’s Wylodean and Bill Saxon Director, Mark White, and B. Byron Price, director of the Charles M. Russell Center and OU Press.


Your first opportunity to see Picturing Indian Territory is Thursday, Oct. 6 at the opening lecture and reception! Price will present the lecture at 7 p.m., and will expand on the multitude of visions (both real and imagined) of Indian Territory that were presented by artists and illustrators from 1819 to 1907. Lectures have long proven to be incredible generators of hunger, so a reception featuring hors d’oeuvres and drinks will be provided at 8 p.m. (or whenever the lecture ends). The evening’s deliciously scrumptious appetizers will include old Oklahoma favorites–pulled pork sliders, chicken fried chicken bites, barbecue cornbread, okra with southwestern sauce, strawberry pie, and pecan bars…! Are you sold yet? Of course, the pièce de résistance of the evening is a delicacy created by University of Oklahoma Catering especially for our event: Cotton Candied Bacon. Imagine a slice of perfectly crisp, juicy bacon serving as the stick around which is swirled a magical halo of pink, sugary cotton candy. Can you picture it? Good: because there’s a catch. This enchanting offering will only be available at our private member’s reception from 6 to 7 p.m.  But don’t despair! A basic membership at the FJJMA is only $50 a year–and only $35 if you’re associated with the University of Oklahoma! That’s less than 10 cents a day–a pretty fair price when you consider all of the perks (and Cotton Candied Bacon) involved. The member’s reception will also feature all of the hors d’oeuvres mentioned above, PLUS juicy buffalo burger sliders. Of course, if you choose to pocket that 10 cents and skip out on the bacon and buffalo, you’ll still have an assortment of scrumptious Oklahoma options to whet your palate from 8 to 9 p.m.


Picturing Indian Territory, 1819-1907 opens Thursday, Oct. 6, at 7 p.m. The opening lecture and reception is free and open to the public. The exhibition will be open that evening for your perusal.



This needs context. That’s probably what you’re thinking about the many dates we’re throwing around in this exhibition. Allow me to provide you with some context for some of the major dates we mentioned.

1834: Indian Territory
1834 was the year good ‘ol Charles Darwin embarked on The Beagle to get in touch with his inner animal, and the year sandpaper was patented by Isaac Fischer, Jr., in Springfield, Vermont.

1890: Oklahoma Territory
1890 was the year President Benjamin Harrison had a bad hotdog and decided we needed to inspect our meat before we ate it, and also the year that Alexander Borodin became a ‘stranger in paradise‘ with the premiere of Prince Igor.

1907: Oklahoma Statehood
In 1907, President Theodore Roosevelt began showboating his Great White Fleet, and Mary Mallon lost most of her Facebook friends for typhoid-related reasons.


Territory: Not just your boyfriend; not just my pizza. Territory is an organized chunk of land that is part of a country but isn’t a state yet. ‘Indian Territory’ (not to be confused with Indiana Territory) is the term given to land set aside by the U.S. government for Native American tribes after they were removed from their original land prior to the Civil War. Indian Territory basically occupied what is geographically today the state of Oklahoma. The Oklahoma Organic Act of 1890 created Oklahoma Territory, and after citizens of Indian Territory tried to join the Union in 1905 as the State of Sequoyah, President Roosevelt came up with a compromise to join Indian Territory with Oklahoma Territory to form a single state. Oklahoma officially became a state in 1907, and everyone performed a perfectly choreographed song and dance number to celebrate the occasion.


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