Oklahoma City, Oklahoma 73105
For Immediate Release: March 5, 2012
A portrait of Choctaw Chief Allen Wright was unveiled in the Senate
Monday. Pictured L-R:
Senate Preservation Fund, former Sen. Charles Ford, sponsor Jacques
artist Mike Larsen, and Chief Wright's great-great grandson Allen
Senate unveils portrait of Choctaw Statesman, Chief Allen Wright
On Monday, the Senate dedicated a portrait of Choctaw Statesman,
Chief Allen Wright who is credited with suggesting the name "Oklahoma"
for the new U.S. Territory created in 1890. The painting, by Oklahoma
artist Mike Larsen, was sponsored by the Chief’s great-great-grandson
Allen Wright and his wife Jacque, along with their family.
“The Wright family is honored by the Oklahoma State Senate’s
recognition of Chief Allen Wright and his contributions to the progress
of the Choctaw people and early Oklahoma,” said Wright. “For
his portrait to join those of other distinguished Oklahomans and
historic figures in our State Capitol, is a very humbling and important
tribute to our forefather.”
Born in Mississippi in 1826, Wright moved with his family to the
Choctaw Nation in Indian Territory in 1833-34. The family moved
prior to the Trail of Tears to present day McCurtain County.
Wright was named Kiliahote at birth. Once enrolled in school in
1834, he was given the name Allen Wright in honor of Rev. Alfred
Wright, a noted Presbyterian missionary among the Choctaw.
In 1856, Wright, now an ordained Presbyterian minister, was elected
to the Choctaw General Council. He twice served in the Choctaw House
of Representatives and was chosen to serve as national treasurer
on three occasions. He was elected Principal Chief in 1866 and was
re-elected in 1868.
He represented the Choctaw at Washington, D.C., and at the Fort
Smith Council and signed the Reconstruction Treaty of 1866. When
U.S. commissioners proposed the consolidation of the Indian Territory's
tribes under an intertribal council, Wright suggested that the region
be designated the "Territory of Oklahoma". Oklahoma comes
from the Choctaw language, okla meaning people and homa meaning
red, thus the Territory of Red People.
Born of Chickasaw heritage, artist Larsen has been represented by
galleries throughout the U.S. He was commissioned in 1991 by the
State of Oklahoma to paint the 26 foot long mural Flight of Spirit
for the Oklahoma State Capitol Rotunda. The painting is a tribute
to five world-renowned Native American ballet dancers, all born
in the state.
“I was very fortunate to have been chosen to do this painting
of Allen Wright. He was a great man who worked tirelessly for the
Choctaw people all of his life. His legacy is part of the wonderful
history of this great state,” said Larsen. “It has been
my honor to do this work.”
The portrait is the 114th piece of art commissioned by the Oklahoma
State Senate Historical Preservation Fund.
“Works commissioned by the art fund portray the people and
events that shaped our history. By naming our state “Oklahoma,”
Chief Wright is extremely important to our heritage,” said
former Sen. Charles Ford, President of the Fund. “Chief Allen
Wright played a significant role in the transition of the Choctaw
people from the post removal and civil war period to the advent
of Oklahoma statehood. He was a religious leader, statesman, diplomat,
scholar and businessman, and we are so proud to honor his memory
with this beautiful portrait.”
The portrait of Wright, along with other works of art commissioned
by the Preservation Fund, can be found on the Internet at www.oksenate.gov.
For more information contact:
Pam Hodges: (405) 521-5675