October 10, 2008

Bradford the accidental hero

Sooners’ Bradford Is Accidental Hero of Cherokee NationEntering Saturday’s Red River Shootout between No. 1 Oklahoma and No. 5 Texas, Bradford is at the forefront of Heisman Trophy conversations, and at the center of attention in the Cherokee Nation, the second largest tribe in the United States. Bradford is believed to be the first Indian to start at quarterback for a Division I school since Sonny Sixkiller, a full-blooded Cherokee, who was born here in Tahlequah and starred at Washington in the early 1970s.

But Bradford is just one-sixteenth Cherokee and until Oklahoma publicized that heritage last season, his father Kent said he had probably only talked to his son about it two or three times as he grew up in Oklahoma City. Kent Bradford said his great grandmother, Susie Walkingstick, was a full-blooded Cherokee.

The elder Bradford, who was an offensive lineman at Oklahoma in the 1970’s, said: "There’s a lot of people in Oklahoma that have Indian blood. I wasn’t brought up to really know much about it. I can’t really give him a lot of information either."

“At times, it’s somewhat awkward in that he and I are indeed portrayed as Indians," he said. "We do have some Indian blood, but that isn’t us out there counting that.”

That hasn’t tempered interest within Cherokee Nation, which counts 280,000 citizens and consists of a jurisdiction that includes all or parts of 14 counties in northeastern Oklahoma.

Bradford is followed fervently at Sequoyah Schools, an Indian boarding school for grades 7-12 that is financed by the Bureau of Indian Affairs and operated by the Cherokee Nation.
Comment:  The hunger for Indian role models, for heroes, is obvious in this article.

The actor to play Bradford in his biopic is obvious: Johnny Depp. They're both 1/16th Cherokee, so casting Depp would be perfect. He even looks like Bradford.

For more on Bradford, see Bradford More American than Cherokee and The New Jim Thorpe.

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