I’ve lived in El Reno off and on, mostly on, for more than 60 years. I’ve never been to a more exciting event than the reception held last week for Harvey Pratt.
Pratt is the El Reno native and noted artist whose design was selected to be the National Native American Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C.
That’s a big, big deal. At the risk of repeating myself, that’s a big, big deal.
The El Reno High School students who got to listen to Pratt explain how his creation came to be selected for such an honor may not yet understand.
They were hearing the voice of a man who is now etched in American history.
As long as there is a United States of America, there will be a memorial in Washington, D.C., created by the man they sipped iced tea with at Our Glass last Monday afternoon.
Having Pratt back in his hometown and having the community honor him was exciting. And having a fellow from El Reno selected to have his work featured so prominently in our nation’s capitol is a wonderful accomplishment and something of which we can all be very proud.
What struck me the most about the gathering was it may have been the first time in my life the community of El Reno and the community of the Cheyenne and Arapaho have come together in celebration.
There have been times over the years when these communities came together, but not necessarily for celebrating.
This event came about because Jeanne Hobson and Mayor Matt White called officials with the C&A and asked if they would be receptive to such an event.
Cheyenne and Arapaho Gov. Reggie Wassana said by all means.
Let’s hope it happens again, and again.
As Harvey Pratt told the high school kids as well as the adults, “We’re all the same. And we’re all different.”
Apologies for eavesdropping on this conversation. It’s too beautiful, in my opinion, not to share.
Iven Hawk approached Harvey Pratt.
“Can I ask you a question,” the El Reno High School sophomore said.
“Of course,” replied the noted artist.
“Did you know my grandfather?”
“What was his name?”
“Yes, I knew your grandfather.”
“What kind of man was he?”
“He was a good man. He was a great help to me.”
Iven Hawk smiled.
Iven enjoys playing the piano.
The following day, over the phone, Pratt told his own “circle of life” story.
“I had come back from serving in Vietnam. I went to a powwow. An older man kept staring at me. Finally, we got closer to one another and he asked who was my family. I told him.
“He said, I knew your great-grandfather.”
“I asked him what was he like.”
“He was a great horseman. We used to sneak our mares into his pasture at night.”
Pratt said his great-grandfather was Edmund Gurrier. The town of Geary is named for him.
“He was half Cheyenne and half French.”