Saturday, November 17, 2018

Koke In Muscogee? Koke Goes to Oklahoma by Sharon J. Beard

Koke is a dog who likes to be on the GO! And for a fun road trip with his favorite person, OK-LAHOMA is OK with him.

And for starters, Koke goes to Spiro. It's close to the Arkansas-Oklahoma border, not coincidentally located near the Arkansas River, famous for its unusual "mound houses" built from sod and grass and clay. The Caddo and Wichita Indians lived in them and planted a lot of corn--until a long ago drought must have made them leave their distinctive houses empty and move on. But people still plant lots of corn there.

Later some Spanish explorers, DeSoto and Coronado visited the area, looking for gold, which they didn't find, and not looking for buffalo/bison, which they did find on the plains. Later on a French explorer named LaSalle passed through and claimed all the lands west of there for France. After Spain and France took turns claiming the area, in 1803 with the Louisiana Purchase the United States bought that land in Oklahoma and a lot westward all the way to the Pacific Ocean.

American pioneers moved into the territory and perhaps copied their "soddies" or sod houses from the Indians. But soon the U.S. also sent a lot of Native Americans--The Five Civilized Tribes--west to the Oklahoma territory in what came to be called the Trail of Tears. One famous Cherokee, Sequoyah, creator the Cherokee alphabet, even settled down in Oklahoma.

Koke's person drives him across the old Indian Territory, past a herd of the state animal, the buffalo, the state tree, the redbud, the Red River, and Oklahoma City, the capital, plus the Ouachita Mountains, and the Wichita Mountains (Okay, Koke thought that was confusing.) From the highway, Koke saw some oil wells, a wild panther and some long-horned cows, not to mention lots of wheat fields and cattle.

"That's not a bearilla! It's a real live bear!"

There's a lot to take in on this road trip, in Sharon J. Beard's Koke Goes to Oklahoma (Westbow Press). Exploring with a big shaggy dog like Koke along makes the history and geography lessons more of an adventure, and young students will find it more fun to learn Oklahoma history about the Sooners and the Boomers and the Okies and the many geographical regions of the state with their canine companion, along with color photos of Koke the tourist.

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