An Oklahoma Sheepdog Fights to the Death in Defense of his Flock

Today in History, October 26, 1944:


Did you know that we Okies make up only a little over 1% of the US population? And we’ve been around as a territory or state for less than half our nation’s history. Yet I keep finding that we’ve given a much larger accounting of ourselves in courage, commitment and love of our neighbors than that…much more than our 1% share.

Whether its the Sooners in the Great Land Rush, US Marshal Bill Tilgman, Will Rogers, the survivors of the Dust Bowl, OKC in ’95, our many astronauts, or the man in the photo, Ernest E. Evans, we are everywhere.

During the Battle Off Samar, in the Battle of Leyte Gulf (Oct. 24-26, 1944), Commander Evans (Oklahoma Cherokee) found his tiny destroyer and a couple of others, the only defense for the light carriers of “Taffy 3” from a massive Japanese force that included battleships, cruisers and destroyers.

For 3 hours he and his crew fought so hard that the enemy thought they were fighting a much larger combatant. In the end, the enemy retreated from the fierce American defense. Evans and his crew continued until they were sunk, and Evans went down with his ship. He was awarded the Medal of Honor.

Commander Evans knew his tiny ship did not stand a chance against the larger ships, but he placed himself and his crew between the enemy and his helpless charges…a true Sheepdog.

The Last to Surrender

Today in History, June 23, 1865:

The last Confederate General surrenders to Union authorities. Cherokee Chief and Confederate Brigadier General Stand Watie surrendered his Cherokee Rifles Cavalry Brigade at Ft. Towson in Oklahoma Territory.

Watie had a checkered past…he was one of the Cherokees that voted for the law that moved the tribe to the Oklahoma Territory, and part of his family was assassinated as a result. He competed with Chief John Ross for the leadership of the tribe…Watie was a slave owner, Ross was a Union sympathizer. Watie and his unit were important in the Battle of Pea Ridge, Arkansas also.

The Chisolm Trail

Today in History, March 4: 1868 – Jesse Chisholm dies. The famous Chisholm Trail is named for Jesse. Most of us assume that Chisholm was a cattle baron that established the trail to take his cattle north. Not so. Jesse was a “halfbreed” in the vernacular of the time…part Scot and part Cherokee. He lived amongst the Native Americans in Arkansas and Indian Territory, and established himself as a merchant. He often negotiated the release of hostages taken by Native American tribes. He knew the landscape well, and established a route from Wichita, Kansas to the Red River, then further south into Texas for his commerce. When Texans needed to move their cattle north to rail heads in Kansas, they used Chisholm’s trail, widening it to as much as 400 yards which can still be seen. Over a million cattle would be moved along the trail established by Jesse Chisholm.