Chickasaw Nation

Trade Offs

So one of the subjects I teach is Economics.   One topic of economics is "trade-offs"  whenever you choose one thing over another it is a trade-off.   Just like having a full time job, family and long commute, that is a trade-off that I make five days a week.   So because I'm writing about my trade-offs right here let me tell you what I did this weekend.  Part of my schedule is driving my daughter to work and picking her up which is two hours a day all weekend.   That, of course is worthwhile because she is working full time and building a work ethic.  

Justin's Birthday-1

Oh yeah Saturday my "Baby Boy" turned 15.  Boy time flies my first blog post for him was when he was ten and a photo of him driving the tractor that I posted in 2011 has kind of went wild online.   

Justin's Birthday-1-2

So we have a 15 year old.   I can't believe it.   My oldest is visiting my alma-mater today and looking at college for her future and my oldest son will be 18 soon.   

Justin's Birthday-1-3

After we had cake I drove to Sulphur to check out some of the hiking trails at the Chickasaw National Recreation Area.   I just get restless and need to get out and do something.   This was about the closest place and I had wanted to check out the hiking we usually go in the middle of summer and go swimming.  

February 20th Cows -1-4

I'm slowly getting back on track with exercise, but it seems like things come up to mess up my schedule it's frustrating.  I will never be great at dieting but I can exercise.  

February 20th Cows -1-5

I'm continually stressed this year. But it is good to get outside.  

Chickasaw National Recreation Area February 20 2016-1

Besides swimming at the falls there are lots of great trails here.  I find something new every time I visit. 

Chickasaw National Recreation Area February 20 2016-1-2

So no housework was caught up on this weekend. I traded that time for a chance to go to the park.  

Chickasaw National Recreation Area February 20 2016-1-4

A quick hike to a spectacular view. 

Chickasaw National Recreation Area February 20 2016-1-3

Definitely worth the time for  a short hike.  

Chickasaw National Recreation Area February 20 2016-1-5

But I can't forget the creek. 

February 20th Cows -1-4

Or the bridge...

February 20th Cows -1-3

On the way home.. I've passed this a million times always vowing to stop someday. I finally did. No some of these aren't the greatest shots... but that's okay.  

February 20th Cows -1

I hate seeing the turbines, but they did add a little extra to this shot.  

February 20th Cows -1-2

I finally made it home by the time the sun was was a beautiful sunset.   Now I have to go to bed because I have a long day tomorrow.   

Misty March Macros

Rainy Spring Break Day-7496


Sister is finally warming up to us.  She's kind of stand-offish for a dog but she's definitely got personality.  She didn't go on a walk today since Pumpkin was spayed yesterday the dogs had to stay home and couldn't go out and play. 

Rainy Spring Break Day-7500

A steady mist was what was happening when I went out.  I used my macro lens because I wanted to capture the spring buds.  

Rainy Spring Break Day-7501

I remember five years ago shooting my first spring blossoms.  Here is a post from 2011 "Beautiful Spring"  I cringe whenever I look at photos from the past and think how horrible they are! 

Rainy Spring Break Day-7502


I love how quickly the seasons change, one week we are stuck in a snowstorm the next week everything is growing.  

Rainy Spring Break Day-7504


We need the rain, it's so dry here.  We didn't have a lot of precipitation this winter.  

Rainy Spring Break Day-7512


I do like the sunny days though.  Allergy season is in full force and asthma to the point of exhaustion is happening here.  I hate my asthma, it's one of those disorders that just leaves you so tired you can't function. 

Rainy Spring Break Day-7532


I love these shots.  I think photographing flowers is one of the first things most photographers master, because they are so naturally amazing and beautiful that it's difficult to get a bad shot.   

Rainy Spring Break Day-7537


I don't have a lot to say right now. I just wanted to post these photos.  I still have some from last Saturday to go through. 

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Rainy Spring Break Day-7583

Today is a day where I get disgusted with photography and photographers. I read too many photography blogs, too many voices and opinions about photography.  But I enjoy it when I go out to do it on my own.  

Rainy Spring Break Day-7585


Rainy Spring Break Day-7599

Look at Morris - one week later and he's already fattening up!   

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So this picture makes me think of this song...  Spiderwebs

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I love watching the seasons change.  

Rainy Spring Break Day-7696

Boggy Depot Cemetery- 2015

We were running early on our trip to Atoka on Saturday so I had my husband pull into Boggy Depot so we could stop at the cemetery.   I now think it's worthwhile to revisit places that I have posted about before because I can look at how my photography has evolved over the years.  In June of 2010 I visited Boggy Depot Cemetery for the first time. I did come home with some of the same shots of the same stones, so what caught my eye then, still catches my eye about this very old place that was once Indian Territory. 

Boggy Depot at Atoka Oklahoma-1139

But I can share a new perspective tonight.  

Boggy Depot at Atoka Oklahoma-1145

I love the trees over this cemetery.  

Boggy Depot at Atoka Oklahoma-1146

I apparently was interested in the final resting place of C.W. Flint who was born in 1812 during my last visit too.

Boggy Depot at Atoka Oklahoma-1148

My husband joined me in taking in the names of these people who left our earthly realm so long ago.  It is good to read the names of people who are gone.  Just reading their name seems to bring peace that perhaps someday our names will be read in a cemetery and we will be remembered.  

Boggy Depot at Atoka Oklahoma-1152
The trees tower far above the largest worn headstone.  

Boggy Depot at Atoka Oklahoma-1156
Names hand scratched into stone.  What we don't think about is these historic cemeteries were probably also once filled with wooden crosses or other types of markers for those who couldn't afford the luxury of a name engraved in stone.  

Boggy Depot at Atoka Oklahoma-1164

I don't think people who haven't spent time walking these old, abandoned, cemeteries realize how so many of the graves are those of beloved children and infants.  In this age of antibiotics I see the heartache and confusion in the news when a child passes away from strep throat or the flu. The measles outbreak is a wake up call for the importance of vaccination.   If parents spent time wandering old cemeteries they would see that they aren't filled with the elderly, they are filled with children.   Sad, little lambs gracing the grief of a hundred years ago.  

Boggy Depot at Atoka Oklahoma-1166

When I posted the photo of these old graves a friend who lives in New York State mentioned how the stones were younger than her early 19th century home.  It is fascinating in how your region affects your perception of age.   

Boggy Depot at Atoka Oklahoma-1191

Boggy Depot was a very busy town in Indian Territory.   Boggy Depot  was a town in between Ft Smith, Arkansas and Fort Washita which was closer to Madill and Tishomingo.   During the Civil War it was a Confederate Supply Depot, which my Great Great Uncle was stationed at briefly.   

Boggy Depot at Atoka Oklahoma-1193
Broken stones dot this historical cemetery.  

Boggy Depot at Atoka Oklahoma-1208

It is humbling as a human being to realize that someday this will be us.   

Boggy Depot at Atoka Oklahoma-1209

The items of trade that came to Indian Territory were the stones and items like this fencing, this was before the time of the railroads.   

Boggy Depot at Atoka Oklahoma-1196

The tribes saved Boggy Depot park a few years ago.  I think tribal sovereignty is a wonderful thing that allowed this historic place to be taken from the state and placed into trust in the hands of the Chickasaw Nation.   

Visiting Boggy Depot Oklahoma -1184

I found this interesting blog talking about experiencing a bit of the supernatural here at Boggy Depot Cemetery.  Which I don't usually "sense" anything in a cemetery, if anything cemeteries are extremely peaceful places.  The forgotten ones make me sad, but only because the people whose bodies are forever at rest there - have been forgotten by their loved ones or their entire families are gone now.  

Visiting Boggy Depot Cemetery Oklahoma -1162

Oh here is a Bigfoot story!    Which is funny we were out driving around to do some night photography and this large black animal (clearly furry) darted across the road.  I'm saying it was just a stray dog on the loose - but it seemed huge.   

Boggy Depot at Atoka Oklahoma-1170

One more of the impressive trees that loom over this antiquated cemetery.   


The images I produce are "mine,"  there is nothing more insulting for a photographer to find your images attributed to someone else.  

20140728-IMG_0790Oklavision Screen Shot

So I learned how to do reverse image look up today on google.  I pulled one  of my favorite posts over the last four years my Foss Lake Sunset photos.   I found the screenshot that I posted above on Pinterest. It was my image that was given credit to TravelOK, which I NEVER upload photos to.  I was IRRITATED, because this webpage says they use the BEST Oklahoma photographs.  This website is managed by a tribe whose financial success and budget surpasses the state of Oklahoma's bottom line. This TRIBE is made of Native people.  Native people and Native artists should not be giving images away to a tribe who is immensely successful with their tourism and promotions.   This sovereign Nation can afford to pay for it's images.  Also the image on pinterest listed the wrong lake because there were five other adults at this camping experience the night I shot these photos.  After studying research studies and going through a short crash photo-journalism class I do not like seeing organizations which are backed by adequate funding not being ethical.  

20140728-IMG_0792Oklavision Screen Shot

Another reason I do not like seeing my images pinned and not redirected back to my own website is that each image has a story behind it.  I took my own resources, my own fuel, my own time to take that image.  I took my time and effort to post it. I pay all the fees to post my images on my blog to share them with the world.  These images are MINE.  I want the public to enjoy them, I want you to learn from them. I want you to appreciate them.  ALL I ask is to be given credit for them. I don't ask for large fees. I ask that I get credit.  Fortunately Pinterest has a place to file copyright infringement complaints which were filed against the tourism webpage that decided to use my images and give them credit to other websites.  

This is my time and effort -  I'm not a paid employee for a tribe or corporate office!   I do this out of my own heart.    I went to the Cimarron River outside of Freedom Oklahoma-  a few years ago, my Husband drove me to the spot where I took the shot.  My kids got out of the car and gathered rocks on the way home from a short family trip.  I have my own memories tied to these landscapes, these places.  These images are mine.   

Unfortunately this falls within the realm of Native Studies.  I do not think this is the "Native way" of how to treat artists.  I'm proud of the Choctaw Nation, because when they have used my images they work with an art company who contacted me and paid me for each image.  I respect the Choctaws. I'm glad I am a Choctaw.  This other tribe despite it's economic success is a disappointment in it's unethical online behavior.  

Camping at the Lake of the Arbuckles 2014

So last week was our family vacation, our family vacation.  My husband's brother and his family came to Oklahoma and we headed out to Sulphur for a few days at the lake. 


While they were putting up their tent.  


Meanwhile we borrowed my Dad's lovely 1974 camper complete with an air conditioner. It was TOTALLY worth it.  This girl is not a tent girl.  


I've been busy editing sessions.  I still haven't had a lot of time to get back through my early summer photos.  A good time was had by all. 

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Everyone had the chance to go out in the kayak. 

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My sweet neice had fun in the sand. 

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Compared to our first camping trip in 2010 my youngest is so tall.  

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My very sunburnt husband and his big brother posing in the kayak. 


We camped at a perfect place to photograph the sunset. 

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And it was a lovely sunset. 

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After such a beautiful sunset...

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It was time to eat.  

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We had a late night visitor to camp.   So there is a little of my week.  


Good Earth State Park at Blood Run South Dakota

We drove to Sioux Falls so I could visit the Good Earth State Park at Blood Run, near Sioux Falls South Dakota.  The Blood Run site extends across the river into Iowa.  This is the site of a settlement that dates back 8,500 years.  Yes, you read that correctly eight thousand years ago people were living here.  We're talking people who pre-dated the ancient Egyptians, Greeks, Romans or those other people you like to think of as "ancient." 

Blood Run South Dakota -Good Earth State Park-9017

So what happens when you're over 800 miles from home and you drive to visit a particular place at a particular time?  It rains.  Not only does it rain, there is a regular thunderstorm.   So I patiently waited over a half an hour for the rain to stop and the sky to stop rumbling.  It didn't.  Not totally. 

Blood Run South Dakota-2797

I grew impatient and drove down the road, wondering how to get to the Iowa side of the river.  The road was closed.   My quest to see this ancient Mound Builder city, this meeting of peoples for thousands of  years, was somewhat unfulfilled. 

Blood Run South Dakota -Good Earth State Park-9013

The surrounding farmland gives way to the river valley. 

Blood Run South Dakota -Good Earth State Park-9020

I based a chapter of my graduate thesis around Blood Run; yet I had never visited.  I wrote about the importance of this place based upon the writing of Allison Hedge Coke's book of poetry titled Blood Run.   Because I was fascinated by the idea of this empire of moundbuilders stretching across the eastern half of North America; people who I never learned about as a child.  

Blood Run -9079

I wrapped the Canon T3i up in two empty plastic bags and put my versatile 18-135 lens on it and finally gathered the courage to take off down the hiking trails. I wasn't going to sit in the car and stare at a field all morning. 

Blood Run-  They were formed not to be forgotten -9099

Had I felt comfortable in the thunder I would have taken more photos and done a much longer hike through this area.

Blood Run- at Good Earth State Park in Sioux Falls South Dakota-9055

I hate thunder and lightning. You won't ever catch me on a one mile hike in this kind of weather again.  Above is an example of my photographic artistry in the thunderstorm. 

Blood Run- at Good Earth State Park in Sioux Falls South Dakota-9059

It is probable that the Blood Run site (c.1500-1700 AD.) in southwestern Iowa was settled in the late proto-historic area by the Iowa, Oto, and Missouri Chiwere Siouans, along with the Omaha and Ponca Dhegiha Siouans. These groups were allied and known as the Oneota culture that is spread over a large Midwestern area. At Blood Run, they were under pressures from the Teton Lakota and Yankton Nakota peoples who had moved into the same region. According to Tom Thiessen's study of the Blood Run site, it once had 275 burial mounds. This is strong empirical evidence that mound building had persisted among these Siouan groups into late proto-historic times. (

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The Oneota people; lived here for hundreds of years, used this as a trading center for pipestone or catlinite which was mined at nearby Pipestone, Minnesota. 

Blood Run- at Good Earth State Park in Sioux Falls South Dakota-9090

Across two states this site is there are the remnants of over 400 mounds. I really couldn't tell the natural landscape from the ancient moundbuilder site.  I've been to Emerald Mound in Mississippi a few years ago and that was impressive.

Blood Run- at Good Earth State Park in Sioux Falls South Dakota-9068

I'm sure this park will continue to grow and will eventually have a visitors center and be rich with the ancient Native heritage that fills the landscape.   Please go like their Facebook Page: Good Earth State Park at Blood Run

Blood Run- at Good Earth State Park in Sioux Falls South Dakota-9075

I love the wildflowers in the northern plains.  Different from home.  

Deer at Blood Run- at Good Earth State Park in Sioux Falls South Dakota-9101

As I left this ancient mound builder city-  there was an issi  watching me.  She watched me for a few moments as I took a few frames of her beauty.   So this site is a place that was "formed not to be forgotten."  It was a site that shares similarities with our Spiro in Oklahoma.  It holds a shared heritage with our Chahta ancestors.   These people whose stories all converge in the river valleys across the eastern United States; these mound builders-  the great empire builders of North America's past.  

Chickasaw National Recreation Area Revisited

Friday afternoon I took the kids to the Chickasaw National Recreation area, one of our favorite places to go in the Summer.  They didn't get to swim in Little Niagara-  instead we found this.. I But it was open a couple of weeks ago, we found it drained and empty.   I was told someone dove in head first and broke his neck while a few weeks ago.  So I was not shocked to find the little Niagara portion closed since, this is a "natural" place which is clearly controlled not by nature but by the will of man.   Little Niagara - NPS

5-23-14 Little Niagara CLOSED -1298

Sure you can picnic..but there is no water in the creek (there was a couple of weeks ago though).  I also know people were swimming in it a couple of weeks ago. 

5-23-14 Little Niagara CLOSED -1291

I've probably posted more about this park than any others in Oklahoma since it has been our favorite since 2010.  I argue that the National Parks system do not "belong to the people" if the government manages them to the point where the people have no control over them.   The example is the Federal Government shut down which declared them "non-essential" - I'm sure Teddy Roosevelt would roll in his grave to know that happened.  The hazardous conditions are someone dove headfirst and broke their neck, so no one else can enjoy it?  Maybe I'm wrong and these are just conjectures.  But it doesn't seem very good for all the new businesses the Chickasaws have opened in the area when the main attraction can't be supplied with water. 

5-23-14 Little Niagara CLOSED -1297

It was just sad.  But we did find places to go swimming.

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A rare photograph of a smiling thirteen year old boy. 

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The kids always enjoy swimming here.

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5-23-14 At the Chickasaw National Recreation Area-1404

Some kids messing around and jumping into the water.

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Summer fun, these kids are local kids too.

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and into the water he goes..

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5-23-14 Hillside springs At the Chickasaw National Recreation Area-1413

We did a little more exploring and I've found some of the trails I've never been on. It's amazing that you can go somewhere for four years and still find something new every time you go.   That is why we need to find value in our local surroundings.

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All these years and I didn't know this was here. 

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So I'm not out spending this nice Sunday shooting.  I have an earache, so I'm going to sit here and load images on my page. 

5-23-14 At the Chickasaw National Recreation Area-1426

Have a beautiful Sunday.  

A Castle in Oklahoma

Castle at Turner Falls in the Arbuckle Mountains Davis Oklahoma -3920

Yes there is a castle at Turner Falls.  Made of native stone and sitting within the park, you can climb the stairs and wonder around an abandoned home of one of the area's more eccentric citizens. 

Castle at Turner Falls in the Arbuckle Mountains Davis Oklahoma -3927

I love the stairs, I imagine this would be an incredible place for a wedding.  

Castle at Turner Falls in the Arbuckle Mountains Davis Oklahoma -3914

The location and the greenery captures the romanticism that is the age of Kings.   Castles and pageantry.   

Castle at Turner Falls in the Arbuckle Mountains Davis Oklahoma -3908

This castle is great but it's not organizing my laundry room now is it?  I have a shelf to put up for my pantry.  

Castle at Turner Falls in the Arbuckle Mountains Davis Oklahoma -3939

Even the grafitti is cool.   Seriously though with what this park charges for entrance, couldn't they renovate these buildings and make an awesome wedding venue?   

Castle at Turner Falls in the Arbuckle Mountains Davis Oklahoma -3963

Here are some images of The Castle in the starkness of winter, January 2011.  I definitely edit my images far differently now, these are too sharp/crisp to the point of unnatural.   

Castle at Turner Falls in the Arbuckle Mountains Davis Oklahoma -3964

Across from the castle you find yourself facing a wall of rock.  But this is the castle at Turner Falls a very neat piece of architectural history in Oklahoma.  

Turner Falls in the Arbuckle Mountains

The last time I visited Turner Falls was in January of 2011, before that it was 2008.  The cost is prohibitive in the Summer with it being $12 apiece after May for entrance.  So a family of five to visit Turner falls is like $62.  We always go to Sulphur and Little Niagara, it's a shame because Turner Falls is closer and also very beautiful.   

Turner Falls in the Arbuckle Mountains Davis Oklahoma -8297

In January of 2011, I had just gotten my first telephoto lens.  I thought it was all pretty awesome. I was also shooting with my Canon Rebel.  

Turner Falls in the Arbuckle Mountains Davis Oklahoma -8292

This time I was shooting with a 18-135, which I absolutely love the range of an 18-135 and I can't seem to find an equivalent high end lens which offers this range.  

Turner Falls in the Arbuckle Mountains Davis Oklahoma -3881

I also love getting a wide angle view of the falls so you can see the surrounding mountains. Telephoto views make you lose sight of the big picture.  Only when you zoom out can you see the surroundings.   

Turner Falls in the Arbuckle Mountains Davis Oklahoma -8299

But it is an appealing sight. I was sorely tempted to climb down to get some pretty yellow flowers in focus with the falls blurred in the background. I knew I could do it. I knew it may not be wise.  I didn't do it because I had someone with me.  

Turner Falls in the Arbuckle Mountains Davis Oklahoma -3883

These weren't the only ones...but that gives you an idea.  

Turner Falls in the Arbuckle Mountains Davis Oklahoma -8280

We have all of these parks with nature preserved for the people, yet we fill them with cement and warning signs.  Our nature is filled with rules for our behavior.  I wonder what our world looked like before dams, before some engineer decided we needed to create lakes out of all of our rivers.  

Turner Falls in the Arbuckle Mountains Davis Oklahoma -8285

Turner Falls is an awesome place to visit! We were lucky to be there on the last day of Winter pricing April 30th, so we went in for $4.  

Turner Falls in the Arbuckle Mountains Davis Oklahoma -3977

So if you're driving south to Dallas on interstate 35 make sure to take a little side trip and go see Turner Falls.  You don't have to go into the park, but the overlook is spectacular.  

The Beautiful Lincoln Bridge in Sulphur

In July of 2010 I posted some photos of this bridge.  In May of 2014 I will post some more.  I must rid myself of this self inflicted backlog of photos from the month of April.   

Lincoln Bridge in Sulphur Oklahoma at the Chickasaw National Recreation Area -8161

I was shooting with a T3i and didn't realize my white balance was set to cloudy.  Can you see how warm this photo is, can you see the yellowish tone?  I didn't compensate in editing to make it look like the sunny day it was. Custom white balance is easy - just take a photo of something white in whatever light you are in.  But, if you shoot in raw you can correct white balance errors, easily. 

Lincoln Bridge in Sulphur Oklahoma at the Chickasaw National Recreation Area -8164

I corrected it in this shot.  

Lincoln Bridge in Sulphur Oklahoma at the Chickasaw National Recreation Area -3710

This is such a pretty, peaceful place.  This photo was shot with a wide angle zoom lens.   

Lincoln Bridge in Sulphur Oklahoma at the Chickasaw National Recreation Area -3721

It was kind of a cool morning on April 30th but definitely better than the 95 degrees of today.

Lincoln Bridge in Sulphur Oklahoma at the Chickasaw National Recreation Area -3699

Someone working for the  Chickasaw Nation contacted me and asked to use one of my Lincoln Bridge photos once, I returned the email and asked them how much they paid, to no response.  Normally I allow image usage, but my own Choctaw Nation pays the artists who contribute to their buildings and with their images.   I am proud to be Choctaw.    This land was once part of the Choctaw Nation, we allowed the Chickasaws to share this land with our people after the hardship of the Trail of Tears of the 1830s.   But before the Chickasaws and Choctaws moved on this land, it was home to Plains tribes and Caddo and even more ancient cultures.  This landscape was never empty, to imagine it was is contemporary arrogance.   

Lincoln Bridge in Sulphur Oklahoma at the Chickasaw National Recreation Area -8167

So at heart I am a Choctaw Nationalist.  Our people sided with the French, our histories were clouded by assimilation.   Yet, one Native issue that bothers me is how there seems to be an assimilation guilt of those who do not know their culture.  There is a guilt and one placed upon us by traditional Natives.  Far too many of us were raised in a secular nationalist sort of way, by secular nationalist I mean we are members of our tribal nation, yet we do not know the language or ceremony that made our people survive the thousands of years that we did on this continent.   

Lincoln Bridge in Sulphur Oklahoma at the Chickasaw National Recreation Area -8171

So while I go off on wild tangents as I write these posts; I am always thinking about what an interconnected world we live in.  I am proud to see the Chickasaws and Choctaws be successful as nations as long as they don't lose sight of why they are nations to begin with and become giant corporations with voiceless people.