Thursday, April 9, 2009
Perry, Person guests on show
By SUE WATSON
Chickasaw Council elder Robert Perry and attorney David Person were two guests recently interviewed on the “Good News Happy Hour,” a.k.a. “Lois and Lisa Show,” at the studio in Holly Springs.
The show plays on Comcast Channel 98 (local cable) on Thursdays at 6 p.m.
Hostesses Lois Swanee-Shipp and Lisa Cole bring in a variety of guests and entertainment as well as local news of interest to the people of Marshall County and the show provides opportunities for local people to become local celebrities.
The video, shot at the Fitch Farms/Galena Plantation offices on South Center Street in Holly Springs, attracted Robert Perry, of Ada, Oklahoma, who toured New Albany, Holly Springs and Tuscumbia, Ala., promoting the sale of his recent book, “The Turkey Feather Cape.”
As an ambassador for the Chickasaw Nation, Perry has visited Holly Springs and Marshall County schools on several occasions on his way to and from Tuscumbia, a community that celebrates the Trail of Tears yearly (at the Tuscumbia Festival). Tuscumbia is also helping reunite Chickasaw descendants who remained this side of the Mississippi River with the descendants of those who departed in the 1837 removal to Oklahoma - the removal famously known as “The Trail of Tears.”
Perry told Swanee-Shipp that returning to Holly Springs and the Mississippi/Alabama area is like coming home.
“This is home for me 170 years since I’ve been here,” Perry said metaphorically.
This trip is a cross-country tour to publicize his new book and the anticipated opening of a $68 million cultural center by the Chickasaw this fall in Sulfur, Okla. The famed Turkey Feather Cape, crafted by Perry, will be exhibited at the museum at its grand opening.
Perry was invited by the museum committee to make the cape, a ceremonial cape of several hundred years ago worn by Chickasaw elders - those who are looked to as a source of wisdom for the tribe and the nation’s government on cultural traditions, he said.
The book provides the minute details of how Perry sought to recover the knowledge of constructing the cape - a lost art - richly mixed with ancient history and recent history of the Chickasaw and archeological evidence as well.
Perry obtained the turkey feathers after asking turkey hunters to take a few of the hallowed birds for the cape.
“I had to clean my own turkey for the raw feathers,” he said. “Archeologists showed the turkey feather cape was built on a web-like fishnet material.”
A retired chemical engineer, Perry said he had to come up with creative solutions and to apply creative solutions in the field of engineering. The book is about applying creative solutions to any project - including artistic projects - and is meant to inspire youth as well as adults to look for ways to solve complex problems when there is no obvious solution.
Perry’s next book - a biography of the late Woodrow Wilson “Woody” Crumbo - is expected to be ready for release this fall to coincide with the opening of the Chickasaw Cultural Center. Perry interviewed the wife of the famous artist and those who had knowledge of Crumbo’s personal travels and challenges, for the new book “Uprising! Woody Crumbo’s Indian Art.”
David Person, who purchased copies of Perry’s book to give to members of the community, was interviewed by Swanee-Shipp regarding his recent tour of the Middle East, including the countries of Iran and Turkey.
After the television interview, Perry and Person provided some insights into their own personal views of where history is leading us as a nation and a world.
Person said his trip to Iran in October 2008 as a member of a five-person tour group, was to see the architecture and the people.
“We were not interested in politics,” Person said. “We were confronted with their wonderful culture of poetry. Their poets are more venerated than their political leaders.
“It is a great architecture and wonderful history of the Persian Empire, one of the oldest cultures in the world.”
Person said the major religion in Iran is Zoastran and there is an active Christian and Jewish community in Iran.
“There are cathedrals all over the place,” he said, adding that Iran was taken over by Arabs in 600 AD. The Persians were a different race of people altogether, not Arabs, he said.
The Iranian people of today put a premium on education and speak Persian, some Arabic and English.
“Even the street signs are in English,” he said. “People who talk about what can happen if a religion takes over a country, should go to Iran and see what happens.”
Externally, the people of Iran wear the black garb in the streets, but under the garb they wear their mini-skirts, blue jeans and Nike shoes, he said. At home they shed the black garb of the street and live a modern life-style.
“In their houses are an abundance of wine and Jack Daniels,” Person said. “Iran was the least religious country we went into. We never heard the call to prayer in Iran, but did hear it five times a day in Turkey.”
When a country is overcome by a religion, Person said if a people is forced to be religious, it stifles creativity and intellectualism, and the end result is the people so treated, do not respect the church.
While visiting Iran in October, Person said, the Bush administration, he later learned, had forced the Israeli government to call off bombing of the Natans Nuclear site, which his tour group had passed by the way and was allowed to view but not photograph.
The site did not look extraordinarily sophisticated and had five concentric rings of cannons surrounding the plant, he said.
Person said he doubts if the Iranians have progressed as far on making a nuclear bomb as Iran’s political leaders have indicated.
Person and Perry both suggested that politicians like those in Iran, the United States and elsewhere, create fear in the populace in order to stay in power.
The fear of a failing economy is one example where fear is the leader worldwide, they said. Perry shared his beliefs on the issue of fear.
“Talking about the economy, the Chickasaw have been in an economic depression for 500 years and we’re still here,” he said. “Sustainability is the main reason we’re still here. No banker will loan money to a Chickasaw.
“The way politicians get their way is to tell about how bad ‘that guy over there’ is and promote fear in the populace.”
The common man is told “it’s your money that will insure stability of the country or the economy,” he said.
“As an example, I saw in Iran how they build up a booger of fear, which causes people to drop their resistance and find out the true facts,” Person said. “It sure has worked in America. I don’t think the Iranians (people) will be patient with the religious and dogmatic politics in their own country much longer.”
Person said Iranians talked freely of their hope and their view of their government.
“We were approached by Iranians on the street who said they had just graduated from Ohio State and who had been accepted to Yale. The problem was the Bush administration would not let them in.
“A young man came up to me and said, ‘I’m so happy with your president (Obama).’
“I think the United States and the Iranian people are about to break the yoke and are about to see the truth.”
“People with whom I speak say there is much hope and the fear of speaking out is fading away,” he said. “Our nation is so much better off without getting hooked on credit. Our government started with one employee about 30 years ago appointed by the Bureau of Indian Affiars by the president.
“Now just the Chickasaw employ over 10,000 people. We are not worried with the credit. We couldn’t get the credit individually or as a Nation. I like to quote my dad, who with an eighth grade education, went to vocational school to become a linotype operator (news printer). He said don’t spend your money on something unless you can eat it.
“That applied to me when I graduated from high school. He suggested I join the Army. “You don’t pay them, they pay you,” his dad advised.
Perry said he did not take his dad’s advice to join the Army to get his education paid for later.
“I figured out how to get through college on my own,” he said.
To order a copy of Perry’s current book, visit turkeyfeathercape.com or order online from iUniverse.com or by calling 1-888-288-4677.
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