Ponca Trail of Tears, Day 8 (part 2)

Dark clouds frame the old building, shrouded by heavy, leafy trees, going to seed. As I entered the Susan La Flesche Picotte Memorial Hospital early Tuesday afternoon, the rooms were chillier than most and ghosts seemed to pace the halls. While some rooms have become alive with museum pieces like syringes, blood pressure gauges and

Ponca Trail of Tears, Day 7

Today was a Monday. That’s it, a Monday. It started out great with my second-best friend at IHOP. I was able to say no to the pumpkin spice pancakes with cinnamon roll filling and cream cheese frosting. We gabbed for more than an hour and I was ready to roll. Without the cinnamon roll. Because

Ponca Trail of Tears, Day 6

Sometimes you’re just in the right place at the right time and meet the right people. Such was my good fortune yesterday while touring the Marland Estates in Ponca City, Okla. The Marland’s Grand Home was not on my short list of places to stop on the Trail of Tears, questioning “What could a rich

Ponca Trail of Tears, Day 4

I’m in Oklahoma, so it’s to be expected, but today I met me some real cowboys and Indians. Oh, I know cowboys and Indians back home, but if you were to look up cowboy in a dictionary, there’d be a picture of Tony Coleman at the top of the page. Louis Headman is a Ponca

Ponca Trail of Tears, Day 3

Today was a big travel day for me, driving about 314 miles from Beatrice, Nebr. To Ponca City, Okla., completing the second leg of my journey to follow the Ponca tribe’s Trail of Tears from their home near Niobrara, Nebr. to this “Indian Territory” and the Bear Clan’s return home via Omaha. As I drove

Ponca Trail of Tears, Day 2

It was much like any other day in a small town school gymnasium. Kids everywhere bouncing basketballs, young adults in trademarked camo hoodies and Michael Jordan sneakers, matrons in fuzzy sweaters and pearls, grandpas with caps sporting Vietnam War insignia — the cluster sign of an officer from 1966, now honored among his family and

Ponca Trail of Tears, Day 1

Welcome to the first in my series of Chautauqua-like travel blogs. My first series will recount the Trail of Tears as the Ponca tribe were forced to walk to Oklahoma and one chief returned to bury his son. The returning clan was arrested near present-day Omaha, setting in motion a landmark civil case recognizing Native