Earlier this month, Fulbright Visiting Scholars had the opportunity to learn about the “Wild West” through the lens of history and diversity in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Tulsa offers a variety of cultural resources that scholars experienced during their four-day stay in the state.
The seminar started with a riveting keynote on “Finding the American West,” led by Dr. James Ronda of the University of Tulsa, who discussed the landscape and the impact of humans on the Tallgrass Prairie Preserve. This address was followed by a western swing band performance that showed the lively and upbeat side of the Americana style.
Wild bison at the Tallgrass Prairie Preserve
The following day was filled with exploration around the Tallgrass Prairie Preserve. Scholars travelled the Prairie by bus with guides who covered relevant topics such as the ecosystem at the preserve and hydraulic fracturing. During lunch, Dr. Bob Pickering delivered a riveting talk on the importance of bison as an icon of the West. Scholars also visited the Osage Tribal Museum to learn about the lifestyle, history, and traditions of the Osage Nation.
Mr. Lou Brock addressing scholars at the Osage Tribal Museum
With an early morning the next day at the Gilcrease Museum, scholars attended panels on topics ranging from the experience of minority groups in the area, to the influence of land on popular music, to the future of the West and what it holds. Between panels, volunteer docents also provided tours for participants to see the art and artifacts on display at this fascinating museum.
The final day of the seminar started with a volunteer activity at the Community Food Bank of Eastern Oklahoma. Scholars got their hands dirty for a good cause by planting herbs and repackaging food items for the community. It was a valuable activity, and shortly after Dr. Doug Price and Dr. Cheryl Mather led the scholars in a closing discussion on the impact of what they had learned the past four days. Scholars departed with a new, nuanced understanding of the American West, as well as fun photos of the people (and bison!) they’d met at the seminar.
Scholars volunteer with a local community food bank