Seminole Nation Museum Presentation

Windy Goodloe
February 22, 2024

Left to right: Corina Toralba (SISCA Treasurer), Chief Lewis Johnson (Seminole Nation of Oklahoma), Windy Goodloe (SISCA Secretary and author) at Seminole Nation Museum

On Saturday, February 17, 2024, I had the pleasure of speaking at the Seminole Nation Museum in Wewoka, Oklahoma. I was invited to speak by Chief Lewis Johnson of the Seminole Nation of Oklahoma. He’d seen a presentation that I’d done for the Fort Worth Public Library on YouTube, and after connecting with the kind people there, extended an invitation. I happily (and quickly)accepted.

To say that the Seminole Nation of Oklahoma and the Seminole Nation Museum were kind and hospitable is an understatement. As mi prima and fellow travel partner Corina Torralba said, “They treated us like royalty.” And I am not exaggerating when I say the whole trip was magical.

From the time I got on the plane, everyone that I encountered was so warm and friendly. The Will Rogers World Airport in Oklahoma City was full of great energy and easy to navigate. Then, when Corina and I hopped in our rental car, after setting our GPS for Wewoka, we enjoyed a scenic drive filled with endless flat land, cows, and beautifully colorful houses that dotted the sparse landscape. There were even a few times when we were directed to take backroads. It was an unexpected adventure that showed us equal parts sights we’d never seen before and surroundings that felt very much like home.

When we arrived in Wewoka, we went right to the Seminole Nation Museum, where we were greeted by museum director Richard Ellwanger and collections manager Caitlin Maddox, who quickly made us feel welcomed. We also were finally able to meet Chief Phillip Barkus of the Dosar Barkus Band in person. He made us feel instantly at home as well. He and Sen. Anastasia Pittman set up a lovely display that included tons of books and personal photos and artifacts. After they finished setting up their display, we went out to eat at a great restaurant called Rudy Alan’s Steakhouse. It was a great way to end our first day in Wewoka, where the weather was incredibly, unbelievably cold, but the people were so warm.

The next day, the day of the presentation, we were treated to a traditional Seminole meal that was arranged by Chief Johnson. The meal included fry bread and sofke/soski. I’d grown up hearing about sofke/soski, but had never had the opportunity to try it. I was surprised by how much I liked it. Everything was incredibly tasty.

Ahead of the presentation, several dear friends, old and new, began to appear. Guy Narcomey and his beautiful mom Phyllis, Erwin and Cynthia Atchico, LeEtta Osbourne-Sampson, Elizabeth Ann Gaines Ali, and Arthur “Butch” Conley all braved the cold to come out and show their support. Seeing so many familiar faces in the audience made me feel loved and just a little less nervous.

My presentation lasted about 45 minutes and was titled “The Black Seminoles of Texas and Mexico.” It consisted of a (brief) history of the Black Seminoles and a (brief) discussion about our culture, annual events, and current revitalization efforts (which include our language, Afro-Seminole Creole, and our songs.) I dedicated my presentation to my mom, Darnett Darlene Goodloe Hardrick, who passed away just over a year ago on February 3.

Following the presentation, there was a short Q&A. Then, a beautiful spread of refreshments was enjoyed by everyone who attended.

If I am being honest, it’s hard to believe that I am even writing about this experience right now. Being invited to Oklahoma has, quite literally, been a dream. And as with most experiences that we can’t wait to have, the date seems to take forever to approach. Then, once it’s here, it, quite literally, flies by. Even though the time was short, many wonderful memories and amazing new friends were made.