and Hopes for Autumn
in the Age of Dissolution.
August 23, 2002
Astonished to be here, frazzled by a psychic hangover from the intensity of so many manic weeks of preparation, and grateful beyond measure for the graceful unfolding of destiny, I stop 50-hours deep into the journey to force the first words upon the page.
I can't say I feel like writing tonight. I'd just as soon curl-up beneath one of Mama Dea's afghans and fall into a hard, deep sleep on the bed I've rented from Payless Inn. Desire for sleep just isn't germane in the face of Duty.
Already I have listened to two Choctaw elders speak of an emergent cultural renewal. I have sailed o'er one of the most incredible, beautiful, and elemental scenic backroads on the continent. I have met the muse of Waurika on her home turf amid the echoes of longhorns and drovers along the Chisholm Trail. She heard the jingling of the cowboys' spurs and directed me to them.
So, I've been given three stories. Soon I shall write them down. For now I can merely make mention of the fragments.
Anadarko, modest and historic, is self-consciously an Indian town. Proclaimed on roadside banners and advertising slogans as the "Indian Capital of the Nation," the village has raised its ambitions on the heritage and culture of the Kiowa, Apache, Caddo, Delaware, and Wichita tribes. Architecturally striking and richly appointed, the museums, galleries and heritage centers are elegant, innovative, and shorn of blatant commercialism.
Like so many ambitious villages on the roads less travelled, Anadarko operates under the odious restrictions of our emergent Age of Dissolution. The ideas behind the ambitions of the townsfolk are purposeful, firmly grounded, and thoughtful in their execution. But.... They lack the frivolity, escapism, and commercial splash necessary to attract visitors in numbers sufficient to sustain a sense of dynamism in the local economy.
Neither branded nor franchised, Anadarko invites the outside world to explore a cultural reality that is far removed from the frantic, glittering mainstream. Being unique exacts a price.
I can't prove any of it. The facts and figures aren't at my fingertips. Certainly Anadarko is not a town in major decline. It is clean, bright, and warm of spirit. There may well be an economic gusher waiting to explode from 'neath the uncertain surface of the present. However, a motel has closed, and the two now in business have seen better days. The town of "over 100 buildings on the National Register" is just a bit frayed around the edges. Business is sluggish, people tell me. Funding sources are lean and becoming scarcer than just a while ago. Like all of the USA, Anadarko seems to be marking time in anticipation of the next shoe to drop in the nation's war against terrorism.
"We don't talk about Nine-Eleven every morning like we did," a National Forest Service employee from Talihina said on Thursday. "People aren't mourning so much anymore. But it's always there. Everyone seems to be waiting for something to happen."
She said the number of tourists was down about 30 percent this season. "We're hoping that things will pick up when the leaves begin to turn this fall and people come out to look at the colors."