September 05, 2007

Will Rogers the cowboy Indian

Will Rogers always proud of Cherokee identityWill Rogers could have played a game of cowboys and Indians all by himself.

While Oklahoma's favorite son earned acclaim on stage, screen, radio and in his newspaper columns for his cowboy feats, he always identified himself first as a Cherokee. Although he had little Cherokee blood, he became known as "the Cherokee Kid" during his performing career.
More on Rogers's background:"I propose he was culturally a Cherokee, a man who grew up in the nation and whose father was prominent," Ware said.

Rogers was born on the Clem Rogers ranch near Oologah. But, contrary to popular belief, he never lived in Oklahoma. He left the area and began his world travels in 1902, when the area was still Indian Territory.

Ware described Rogers as a cowboy-Indian hybrid.

"It is a cultural mix the stereotype does not allow," Ware said.

The popular conception pitted cowboys against Indians, she said. In reality, the Indians were more likely to be fighting cavalry, while the cowboys were a mixed-heritage lot, with cowpokes ranging from various white ethnic backgrounds to black, Hispanic and yes, sometimes Indian.

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