The CTOM provides an unparalleled rustic outdoor venue which we have come to cherish. The ancient forests of oak trees and prairies were described as “where the plains met the big trees” and “where the trees met the rivers and where the buffalo graze in the winter” by our Kiowa and Apache relatives. Our event gives honor and recognition to the history and current lives of American Indian and Indigenous peoples whose families originally lived on, hunted, and protected the land now known as Texas.
The Onsite Director, Carrie Reynolds, and the Board of Directors CEO, David Murdoch were the first people our organization met when considering this location for our annual event. The Chisholm Trail Outdoor Museum is a beautiful wooded location with major onsite improvements made especially to assist our annual event. Carrie has worked 24/7 to help us make our IIAmericas event welcoming for our American Indian and Indigenous supporters and our community guests.
Several things stood out when we decided on this location. Our first consideration involved the people in charge of the venue and their acceptance of our culture. In our conversations with Carrie, we learned she is a retired World Championship Barrel racer. She is one of 200 women inducted into the National Cowgirl Hall of Fame. She is a true “go-getter.” She has a dedication to the Cleburne community and a special place in her heart for our American Indian culture. Since Carrie was four years old, she spent time with her grandmother, Phyllis Haag Leriche at the Gila River Indian Community and Apache Nation in Arizona. Her grandmother worked as a liaison between the government and the people. Her grandmother respected her friendships within the Native communities and tried her best to promote the rights of the Native people she represented. Phyllis Leriche definitely passed on those values and feelings through Carrie.
The CEO, David Murdoch, is a wonderful, genuine gentleman. He has significantly contributed to Johnson County and Cleburne on nonprofit boards, as well as City and County governments. His ranch is adjacent to the land where our event will be held. Mr. Murdoch is a wonderful advocate for the land and all that it offers our event.
Another observation about the Outdoor Museum staff is their trust in us. We have spent several weekends and many, many hours getting to know one another. The Museum has invited our volunteers to have full overnight access to camp on the land before we decided to have our event there. That campout gave us time to talk and think about all the possibilities for expansion, volunteer support, and visibility in the future.
American Indian and Indigenous Nations’ history
Our Native peoples had many different names and stories about this area of what is now known as Johnson County. These were the animal trails such as deer and buffalo. Many Nations hunted and lived in this area. Some tribes you may recognize by the names of Kiowa, Apache, and Comanche. Having our event on this land reminds us of the Caddo words “Kiwat natsiwadisah natihsis”, We are all going home to Texas. This is how we feel being back on this land to hold our pow-wow, gourd dance, and other activities. Many of our volunteers are descendants of the Indian relocation program in the 1960s Dallas/Ft. Worth area. Their families have laid the foundation for future generations of Native American families in the Dallas-Fort Worth area. Many of them are from tribes from the land area of our event. So they truly are “returning home”. Let us hear from you, if your Nation once hunted, traveled, or lived in the Cleburne area. Come tell your stories at our Annual event. Free booth space is available for American Indian groups who want to help us educate at the event. Ask your elders, what they call this area of Texas where the buffalo wintered and where they had their trails.
Chisholm Trail Outdoor Museum is known for its reenactment of the era of cattle drives, the influx of immigrants from the Eastern United States, and Civil War history. But, for our event, the staff and Directors at the Museum support our narratives and efforts to provide a safe and supportive atmosphere for our Native visitors. There will be no cowboy reenactments, and both the Civil War and Texas Rangers Museums will be closed. The Big Bear Native American Museum will be open. It is a very nice museum with artifacts donated by American Indian and Indigenous families. The curator, Jimmy Smith has worked very hard to represent and honor the history and accuracy of the donations.
The blacksmith shop will be open, which is usually associated with European culture, but we want people to also learn about the metalworking and metallurgy of copper, platinum, gold, tin, silver, and lead by Native Americans prior to European contact in the Americas. We hope this might inspire people to learn about Native artists who are incorporating metalworking into their crafts such as Jason Reed Brown, a Koyukon Athabascan
A big thank you to Michael Tongkeamha who offered a Kiowa description of our location, “Where the plains met the big trees.” ahn daw gaw beeh’ and Gregory G. Gomez, Mescalero, and Lipan Apache who described it as “where the forests meet the rivers and where the buffalo winter.” Ta’uĺeedñt”ìya nìch’il inane t” eesh. We will be honoring the Sacred Oak tree and its acorns. Each child who attends our event will pick an acorn to learn about and take home. If your Nation has unique recipes, stories, songs, or ceremonies related to the Oak and Acorn, please share with us so we can teach our children this history throughout the year.
We want our children who come to this event to have an authentic, fun learning experience, and you can be part of that happening!
Please let us know if you have more questions,
IIA Organizing Committee
Annette Anderson – Co-Chair
Emilia Gaston – Co-Chair
For Immediate Release
Indigenous Institute of the Americas
IIAmericas Celebration – is a scheduled event of the Indigenous Institute of the Americas, a 501 (C) 3 nonprofit organization, conducted by the
IIAmericas Organizing Committee