1918 to 2017: Choctaw Code Talkers of World War I and Veteran’s Day

November 11, 1918
The Great War ends.

November 11, 2017
Choctaw Nation Veteran’s Day ceremony.

I may not have been at that Armistice Day in France nearly 100 years ago, but the day originally set aside to commemorate it found me at the Choctaw Nation tribal grounds in Tuskahoma, Oklahoma. I wanted to thank veterans who served to protect my life and my freedoms.

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1881: Tobucksy County Courthouse in the Old Choctaw Nation


Left for the old Tobucksy County Courthouse ten minutes away from the hotel.


Arrived at the old Tobucksy County Courthouse.

Okay, we got a little lost! But we made it with no minutes to spare, breathing heavy from hauling books from the parking area to the side of the historic Choctaw courthouse. 

1890s Indian Territory

The coal mining industry was booming. Only one in four people in the Choctaw Nation were actually Choctaw. Politics were heated and deadly.

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What "Tikbva Ihiya" Means to Me

I recently started signing off my newsletters with the Choctaw words tikbva ihiya. I found this term on the Chahta Foundation website, with a handy pronunciation button by it. But the narration there does more than pronounce the words. It stirred and inspired me.

Olin Williams (narrator) not only gives the definition for the words (tikbva means “forward” and ihiya means to “keep going”), Olin said, “Together, these words define what it means to be Choctaw.” Such a simple explanation, but one that resonated deep in my soul. 

Keep going forward.

That is the legacy my ancestors. After William Robuck, my seventh generation great-grandfather, buried his father on the Trail of Tears, he kept going. He kept moving. His faithful actions still move in my life today.

That’s why I decided to start using tikbva ihiya. To pass on to you the spirit, faith, and hope my people live within. It’s my way of saying, “Don’t give up. Keep going, keep hoping, keep living your purpose in life. No matter what.”

God knows.


Tikbva ihiya,


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Storytelling and the Choctaw Labor Day Festival 2017

Cool temperatures. Lights dancing through the evening sky. I took my time strolling the Choctaw Capitol Grounds on Friday evening after watching the powwow Grand Entry. (See video snippets on my Facebook page)

As I passed the large old brick Council House, I turned my head to follow its clean lines, the red mansard roof contrasted by the fading blue sky as night crept over the Potato Hills surrounding Tuskahoma, Oklahoma.

I hadn’t been away from our booth much in two days. It felt good to stretch my legs, to take in the sights and sounds of the four day Choctaw Labor Day festival. There in the distance was the Ferris Wheel at the carnival, and I smiled, thinking about researching Mr. Ferris’ Wheel last year for my novel (Traitors) set in 1893. 

Along the road, children scampered around people with their dogs, and I thought of being a little girl at this festival with my brother, Mama, Daddy and our little black Chinese pug, Coal Younger. All night gospel singings where I’d fall asleep on the cool bleacher under the covering of the huge amphitheater. Living memories.

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