Oklahoma City, OK 73105
For Immediate Release: April 13, 2009
The sponsors of the Alexander Posey portrait Speaker Thomas Yahola,
Muskogee Nation National Council, and former state Senator Jim
and Sally Howe Smith
pose with Senate Preservation Fund president and former Senator
Charles Ford and
artist Mike Wimmer following the dedication Monday in the Senate.
Portrait of Creek Journalist and Poet Laureate
Alexander Posey Dedicated in Senate
The state Senate dedicated a portrait Monday of
Creek journalist and Poet Laureate Alexander Posey. The piece
was commissioned by the Oklahoma State Senate Historical Preservation
Fund, and was sponsored by the Muskogee Creek National Council
and the family of former Senator Jerry Smith.
“It’s an honor to be at the state Capitol
and to be a part of this program and the tribute that the state
is making to one of our citizens," said Thomas Yahola, Speaker
of the Muskogee Nation National Council.
Smith’s wife Sally Howe Smith is a distant
relative of Posey, which is why the family wanted Posey’s
story to be shared with others.
“I know that for everyone that is a part
of Alexander Posey's life, whether a relative or not, this day
is long overdue and we're truly overjoyed that he'll be recognized
in the state Capitol," said Smith.
Posey is best known for his insights into Creek
Indian tribal politics and Native American customs which he recorded
in his poetry, journalism and political satire. He lived through
a crucial period in the history of the Creek Nation, when the
tribe’s land base and political autonomy were threatened
by assimilation to Euro-American culture.
“This is a wonderful opportunity to bring
forth a very famous Oklahoma Creek Indian that the younger generation
hasn’t had the privilege to know. Alexander Posey was a
young man who knew what he wanted out of life and went after it.
He wasn’t afraid and didn’t let his age or anything
else hold him back from following his dreams and attaining greatness,”
said Charles Ford, president of the preservation fund. “He
is an example to all of us of what is possible with hard work
and determination. We’ve been wanting to do his portrait
for several years and I’m glad that it’s finally finished
and ready for the world to see.”
Posey was born into a bicultural and bilingual family.
His mother was Creek Indian and his father had Scottish ancestry
but had grown up in the Creek community.
After leaving Bacone Indian University in Muskogee
in 1895, Posey was elected to the lower chamber of the Creek National
Council and embarked on a long career of public service, including
serving as administrator to tribal schools as well as Secretary
of the Sequoyah Convention.
In 1902, he also began a career as a journalist,
establishing he Eufaula Indian Journal, the first daily newspaper
published by a Native American. As editor of the paper, he is
best known for his works called the Fus Fixico letters. Narrated
by a Creek character named Fus Fixico (which translates as either
“Warrior Bird” or “Heartless Bird”), the
letters offered humorous political and cultural commentary written
from the perspective and in the dialect of Indian speakers. The
Fus Fixico letters did not always correspond to Posey’s
own convictions, but offered variety of perspectives on the difficult
issues facing the Creeks in his time.
Tragically, Posey died before he was able to completely
fulfill the promise of his innovative writing. He drowned at age
35 when his boat capsized on the North Canadian River.
Like many others in the state Capitol, the portrait
was painted by Norman artist Mike Wimmer.
“It’s always an honor to be asked to
do these historical pieces, but this one was particularly special
because it’s rare to have the opportunity to honor another
artist,” said Wimmer. “One thing that I was so impressed
by about Posey was that he didn’t wait until he was older
to follow his dreams. He gave all he had from the beginning, and
it’s evident in his wonderful works.”
This and other art commissioned by the Oklahoma
State Senate Historical Preservation Fund, Inc. can be found on
the Internet at www.oksenate.gov under “Senate Artwork”.
For more information contact:
Charles Ford/Pam Hodges- 405-521-5675