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Oklahoma State Senate

Communications Division State Capitol Oklahoma City, Oklahoma 73105

June 7, 2013

A Senate Review by Senator Ron Sharp


This weekend, the 27th Annual Red Earth Native American Cultural Festival was held in Oklahoma City. This is one of the greatest displays of Oklahomas rich Native American heritage. Being of Choctaw heritage myself, I know how important it is to celebrate and remember our ancestry. Id like to tell you a little about my family history. The Choctaw Nations early government had three districts, each with its own chief, who together with the town chiefs sat on the National Council. They appointed a Choctaw Delegate to represent them with the U.S. Government in Washington, D.C. By the 1831 Treaty of Dancing Rabbit Creek, those Choctaw who chose to stay in the newlyformed state of Mississippi were one of the first major non-European ethnic groups to become U.S. citizens. The treaty was drafted at the home of my great-great-great grandmother Louisa Clarissa LeFlore Wilson, the daughter of Chief Louis LeFlore. Chief LeFlore was a major in the army of General Andrew Jackson, leading the Choctaw volunteers to victory in the Battle of New Orleans in January 1815 during the War of 1812. As the last Choctaw chief east of the Mississippi River, Greenwood LeFlore, signed the 1830 Treaty moving the Choctaw Nation to Oklahoma Indian Territory. The LeFlore family assumed the line of chiefs of the Choctaw Nation in the new territory. The Choctaw Nation has distinguished itself as a sovereign nation, and the LeFlore family played an integral role in the tribal leadership of the great nation. Im proud of my family heritage and the role the Choctaw Nation has played in the history of our great state. Due to my family heritage on the other side of my family, Im also a member of the Oklahoma City Chapter of the Sons of the American Revolution. Private Eslie Hunt was the great grandfather of Vianna Ray; and Vianna was my grandmother. Captain William Ball, who fought for General Washington at Yorktown in 1781, was my grandfather Marion Lee Sharps great grandfather. Marion Lee and Vianna Ray were married in Winston County, Mississippi in 1903. Ironically, my grandparents were distant cousins, which was a common occurrence in those days. Clarissa LeFlore was the great grandmother of Marion Lee Sharp and Greenwood LeFlore was the great grandfather of Vianna Ray.

The ancient Choctaw ceremonial burial ground of Nanih Waiya is located on property in Winston County, Mississippi that was originally owned by Clarissa LeFlore. Under Choctaw custom, women owned property. This created a problem in Mississippi as under their law, women couldnt own property. As a former history teacher, its safe to say that Im intrigued by family heritage and the history of the various tribes, our state and our nation. I had a busy week traveling around the district. I met with State Labor Commissioner Mark Costello at the Gordon Cooper Career Tech Center to talk with local residents about SB 1062, establishing the states new workers compensation system, which was recently signed by the Governor. On Tuesday, I also spoke to the Shawnee Rotary Club about the states new workers comp administrative court system as well as about other legislation that has been signed into law. On Thursday, I attended a luncheon in Oklahoma City in support of The Education and Employment Ministry (TEEM). Former House Speaker and Shawnee native Kris Steele is the Executive Director of this great organization that helps those who have been recently released from incarceration, the homeless and unemployed get the education and job training they need to secure employment. This is a one-stop shop for those trying to improve their lives. The faith-based organization serves anyone who walks through their doors free of charge. Its a place where people can get a second chance at life. The stories we heard at the luncheon from former clients were amazing and Id highly recommend checking out this nonprofit at www.teem.org. In closing, I know our local communities are still working to recover from the devastating storms. As always, Im here to help in any way I can. Please dont hesitate to contact me if you need anything. To contact me at the Capitol, please write to Senator Ron Sharp, State Capitol, 2300 N. Lincoln Blvd. Room 533, Oklahoma City, OK, 73105, email me at sharp@oksenate.gov, or call (405) 521-5539. -30-