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How Did I Miss That? Cherokees Claim Will Rogers, Purple Tomatoes

Some people have been asking why I make room for my Republican cousin Ray Sixkiller in this column. Three reasons. One is that I’m a Jack Democrat. Another is that this column proceeds in poor imitation of Will Rogers, who claimed to be a Democrat but was an equal opportunity kidder. Finally, Cherokees used to be nearly all Republicans and they are still seriously split. A thought about who engineered the Trail of Tears would tell you why.

Cousin Ray wanted to know what a “Jack Democrat” is? A Jack Democrat is to Andy Jackson’s party as a Jack Mormon is to the crowd that runs Utah at the expense of the Utes. You might call Will Rogers a Jack Democrat since he had a lot of Republican friends and probably never voted in his life, but he did famously remark, “I’m not a member of any organized political party---I’m a Democrat.”

I was slow on the uptake because The Cherokee Phoenix was too far down in the stack last week, but I must mention that August 15 was the 80th anniversary of the death of Wily Post and Will Rogers in a crash of Post’s custom made aircraft near Point Barrow, Alaska.

The Phoenix reported on the annual fly-in to Rogers’ Dog Iron Ranch in Oologah, Oklahoma. Rogers used to claim Claremore as his hometown “because white people can’t pronounce Oologah,” but Cherokees know he was born there when it was still located in the Cherokee Nation, Indian Territory.

Will Rogers used the bully pulpit that was his as the most popular entertainer across the most media in his time to plug for civil aviation in spite of having survived many of what he called “incidents” before the one that took his life. Oklahoma calls Will Rogers a “favorite son” but the man antedates Oklahoma and I guarantee the Cherokee Nation will not turn him loose. We understand why the world and the United States and Oklahoma mourned his death, but Will Rogers is ours, The Cherokee Kid.

Another Cherokee kid may be a plant. According to NPR’s reporting on the origin of the Cherokee Purple tomato, the commercial seeds sold today came from Craig LeHoullier, a member of the Seed Savers Exchange who specializes in heirloom tomatoes. In 1990, he got seeds from John Green of Sevierville, Tennessee. The variety was said to be over 100 years old and from the Eastern Band Cherokees.

LeHoullier was so impressed by the taste he forwarded seeds to commercial growers, and the rest is history. Speaking of history, NPR was proud to have verified that Cherokees have been growing tomatoes for over 100 years. Way to go, NPR. Next time, try a thousand years for a serious question. A journal from the DeSoto entrada in 1540 recorded Cherokees already gardening. Indian agriculture in Tennessee goes back as far as 3,000 B.C.E.

The Denver Post reported that the Denver Botanic Gardens have drawn record crowds to view and smell the rare bloom of a “corpse flower.” Waits were as much as five hours to gaze of at the Brobdingnagian plant. Visitors were unanimous that the foulness of the odor was exaggerated. Because the plant is native to remote Sumatran jungles, few botanists know much about it, and experts differed when another bloom might show up, but it will be at least two years and could be as many as 15. “There is no truth to the rumor,” Cousin Ray said wryly, “that they named the Denver corpse flower ‘Trump.’”

Rolling Stone published a recap of the WWE Summerslam, the highlight of which was the newly retired Jon Stewart emerging from the audience with a chair to whack one of the wrestlers.

Cousin Ray reminded me that Stewart covered political nonsense on The Daily Show before he retired. “How in the world can you pay attention to U.S. politics and then get snooty about professional wrestling?”

I started to argue with my Republican cousin, but then I noticed the latest polling data as reported in The New York Times. It’s Trumpmania.

The Donald is leading Mike Huckabee among evangelicals.

The Donald is leading Ted Cruz among Tea Party supporters.

The Donald is leading Jeb Bush among moderates.

Former Obama advisor David Axelrod was quoted by Maureen Dowd in The New York Times, “In a parlance Trump would appreciate: We’re still in the swimsuit competition. It gets harder in the talent rounds.”

Trump’s latest bit of obnoxiousness was to accuse the bilingual Jeb Bush of “speaking Mexican.”

Still, the Republican establishment persists in treating Trump like a big stinky plant and his campaign as an illicit affair with “their” voters. “They are going to be royally screwed,” Cousin Ray predicted, “if they don’t understand Ashley Madison votes in the GOP primary.”

Jennifer Weiner claimed in a New York Times op-ed that the city hit hardest by the Ashley Madison hack was Washington, D.C. The Associated Press reported that the extramarital affair website was used by “at least two assistant U.S. attorneys; an information technology administrator in the Executive Office of the President; a division chief, an investigator and a trial attorney in the Justice Department; a government hacker at the Homeland Security Department and another DHS employee who indicated he worked on a U.S. counterterrorism response team.”

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It’s mindboggling that so many customers used their work email accounts. The ones with the most to worry about are those in the .mil domain, since adultery is still a crime under the Uniform Code of Military Justice. “Conduct unbecoming” is also punishable.

Military.com reported that the Department of Defense is on the Ashley Madison case. An “informal analysis” counted 6,788 Army addresses, 1,665 Navy addresses, and 809 Marine Corps addresses. This does not count particular units or vessels. Among those, I was able to identify 425 Air Force addresses.

Where I lived before retirement in Bloomington, Indiana, the city had 6 and the country had 2. The White House had 44, more than the state of Utah at 33.

“News” stories in the Daily Mail should always carry the qualifier “allegedly,” like Fox News in this country. But in Saudi Arabia, where the state religion makes divorce unilateral and verbal (for the male) and the idea of sex equality has yet to penetrate, these two divorce stories are not impossible.

The first story involved a “man” who first saw his bride’s face after the wedding, when she was asked to uncover for the wedding photo. The groom’s immediate response was “You are not the girl I want to marry. You are not the one I had imagined. I am sorry, but I divorce you.”

The second story claimed that a Saudi man divorced his wife because she failed to reply to a text message.

I observed that at least the second woman had a cell phone and the first still has her virginity, a big deal in Saudi Arabia. Cousin Ray went farther and said both women were lucky because of what they don’t have: “the jerks they married.”

The Mail cited the Saudi paper Okaz, where I was unable to verify the stories, but I am not able to read the Arabic edition. The English version did carry a story saying that the Saudi divorce rate is 35 percent but much higher in certain cities. Jeddah was 60 percent and Riyadh 39 percent. These were presented as alarming numbers, but the part of the story that struck me was that 60 percent of divorces happened in the first year of marriage.

The U.S. divorce rate is about 42 percent and trending down, but the reason for the downtrend is fewer people getting married. “Are you saying,” a wide-eyed Cousin Ray asked, “this is not the fault of gay people?”

Some voters would like to divorce the presidential candidates of both major political parties. Public Policy Polling put minor candidate Deez Nuts on a ballot with Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton in North Carolina. Given those choices, Nuts polled 9 percent. This is up from 8 percent in Minnesota and 7 percent in his home state of Iowa.

Deez Nuts was subsequently discovered to be the nom de politico for Brady Olson, 15, of Wallingford, Iowa (pop. 197). Nuts, running as an Independent, has endorsed John Kasich in the Republican Primary and Bernie Sanders in the Democratic Primary.

In other nut news, Dr. Ben Carson published an op-ed in USA Today lecturing #BlackLivesMatter for focus “on the wrong targets.” Instead of Bernie Sanders, Carson suggested boards of education, city halls, crack houses, and “the entertainment industry.” He called out Straight Outta Compton in particular.

He called on blacks to become Republicans and tell the Democrats, “We don’t want to be clothed, fed and housed. We want honor and dignity.” Even though he’s a Republican, Cousin Ray disagreed, remarking, “being hungry is no honor and there’s not much dignity in being naked and on the street.”

Deez Nuts looks better every day.

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