Blue Clark’s “Indian Tribes of Oklahoma” & Russell Ferrell’s “The Bone War of McCurtain County”

Most Oklahoma natives can name the so-called Five Civilized Tribes (which is an egregiously patronizing label, by the way) that are part of our state’s culture … but that’s just the beginning. What is now Oklahoma has been home to native peoples for over 10,000 years, and more than three dozen tribes still call it home today, a panoply of cultures and legacies collected and shared in “Indian Tribes of Oklahoma: A Guide” by Blue Clark.

Dr. Clark, an OCU professor and himself a member of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation, covers the alphabet from A to Yuchi and provides for each an overview of their name’s derivation, current location, economic status and population, as well as a brief accounting of their tribal history and notable figures like Comanche chief Quanah Parker, the artists of the Kiowa 5, Cherokee actor and entertainer Will Rogers and more. The result is simultaneously a reference book and a surprisingly compelling read, especially for those of us who share in the story of the “Land of the Red People.”


Photo by Ryan Somma

A small-scale epic based on a footnote in modern history, Russell Ferrell’s latest book is proof that fascinating stories are unfolding all around us all the time, and that real-world conflicts can be more compelling – if messier – than fiction. “The Bone War of McCurtain County” is a tale of greed, ignorance, stubbornness and politics centered around what is still the only extant complete skull of ferocious prehistoric predator Acrocanthosaurus, discovered by amateur paleontologists in southeast Oklahoma. Get your talons on a copy when Ferrell holds a signing at Hastings in Norman June 15.

Categories: Good Reads