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Comanche County: New Signs Mark Native American History

Comanche County: New Signs Mark Native American History

From News Channel 7 Lawton:  BROADCAST VIDEO

It doesn't stand out like the white speed limit signs or orange construction signs, but a new road sign on Highway 7 between Lawton and Duncan is also significant--in a historical way. Tuesday, Oklahoma Department of Transportation officials and representatives from the Kiowa, Comanche, and Apache tribes unveiled one of a couple dozen new markers. The signs are brown, signifying historical sites, and distinguish the tribal boundaries of jointly owned lands of the KCA.

It may just be a regular random road sign to you and me, but the signs mark boundaries pre-dating counties and even the state. To the communities and people represented by that land, it's so much more than a sign. "It's a sense of pride, I mean I'm very proud to be Kiowa," said Keith Vasquez.

While doing public relations for his tribe, Vasquez got a little jealous of seeing historical markers for other tribal areas. "I travelled around the state, and before you get ready to go into certain a tribe's reservation, you see their sign out there, entering, leaving, things like, and you think, why can't we have some of those and now it's here," said Vasquez.

It's small and simple, but it was no easy task to accomplish.  KCA intertribal Land Use leaders started work on this program with the Department of Transportation three years ago.  "Our new tribal sign program has gone to the brown signs so that way it lets people know that not only is it a current boundary, but the historical significance of the boundary.  Before statehood, this was a tribal reservation and we still recognize it today," said O-DOT Tribal Coordinator Jay Adams.

The KCA reservation land covers over 4,500 square miles, the third largest tribal area in the state, behind the Choctaw and Muskogee/Creek. "Just to see them go up, I feel a lot of pride in this because I know it's been attempted but it never became a reality until now.  So I'm just very happy," said Apache KCA Administrator Mary Pewo.

There will be 22 markers in all on state highways throughout Southwest Oklahoma, ensuring the Kiowa, Comanche, and Apache historical tribal boundaries will not be forgotten. "It's our home, it's our history, and I know that our tribal members are just very happy that it's recognized.  It just brings a lot of pride to a lot of people, and I'm just glad to have been a part of it," said Pewo.

O-DOT set up 21 of the signs, but the KCA tribal land actually extends across the Red River, and the KCA also worked with the Texas Department of Transportation for the 22nd and final sign.

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