Books That Inspire 2007

Black, Red and Deadly: Black and Indian Gunfighters of the Indian Territory, 1870-1907
Arthur T. Burton

Unlike most employees at a research university, I get to read purely for my own pleasure. Black, Red and Deadly is, however, both a pleasure and enlightening. As most long-time Oklahomans know, our state history did not start with the Land Run of 1889. Before "official" white settlement, what is now known as Oklahoma was home to thousands - Native Americans already here, the Native Americans forced here by the American government, the slaves (later freed) brought by Native American masters, escaped slaves from the South, and others of all ethnic backgrounds who saw opportunity or anonymity in the area. Native Oklahoman Burton grew up on tales of black and Native American gunslingers on both sides of the law, and those stories have inspired his career and writings in history. Black, Red and Deadly, like many of today's history books, chronicles the everyday people often overlooked by traditional history texts. But the 1991 book has the added bonus of being a thrilling read, to boot, bringing to life the minority lawmen and criminals alike who roamed Indian Territory, shooting first and sometimes asking questions later. Those who have read True Grit or seen the movie will learn that the famous snake pit scene is based on an actual incident, in which a posse had to retrieve a body in order to convict a criminal. If more books like these were used in high school Oklahoma history classes, attendance would never be a problem.
Diane Fitzsimmons
Development Associate II
Development Office