For thousands of people April 22, 1889, was a day for new beginnings and great potential for the future of Oklahoma. That day was brought back to life Wednesday as Sequoyah Elementary School fourth-grade students relived the days of pioneers and Native Americans.


For thousands of people April 22, 1889, was a day for new beginnings and great potential for the future of Oklahoma. That day was brought back to life Wednesday as Sequoyah Elementary School fourth-grade students relived the days of pioneers and Native Americans.


Students dressed in period clothing as they experienced what life was like for early Oklahomans and Native Americans in the area. They learned about school in the late 1880s, Native American experiences in the days before statehood, the April 22, 1889 land run and early pioneer lifestyles.


Teacher Debbie Searl said the students have done the land run for several years, but the fourth-grade teachers wanted the students to become more culturally aware of their history, especially for the students to understand Native American pasts.
“We were looking for ways to be respectful by honoring history and tradition,” she said. “We wanted to present both sides of history.”


Students were able to learn about living as a pioneer and what it was like to be part of a land run. On the other side of history, they learned how Native Americans lived and about the Trail of Tears.


In the late 1800s, pioneer children went to one-room schoolhouses to learn. Searl recreated a typical school with chalkboards and readers, which are small books that children used to learn to read. Students also learned how children were expected to act and how things have changed including the Pledge of Allegiance and how students took their lunch to school in buckets.


Jon Boursaw from the Citizen Potawatomi Nation Cultural Heritage Center explained how the Potawatomi Nation came to Oklahoma. Students learned about Native American experiences of relocation and culture.


While the land run is usually outdoors where students run to their land plots, Sequoyah teachers took another route in demonstrating a land run. Students saw the Hollywood version of a land run in “Far and Away” and made their own wagons to be plotted on a map. Students were given deeds to the property.


They learned that each plot represented 160 acres and settlers had to live on the property for five years in order to receive the land title for free. Settlers were required to live on and improve the land before it was theirs.


Students learned about lifestyles of pioneers. They experienced what pioneers did for entertainment by learning how to square dance.


Searl said, “We wanted the students to learn about Native American heritage and the pioneer spirit.”
———
Amanda Gire may be reached at amanda.gire@news-star.com or at 214-3934.