About Angie Debo
Angie Debo was born in Beattie, KS, in 1890, moved to Marshall, Oklahoma Territory, with her family in 1899, taught in rural schools at age 16, graduated from Marshall High School in 1913 and from the University of Oklahoma (OU) in 1918 with a degree in history. She taught history at Enid High School for four years, received a master’s degree from the University of Chicago in 1924, taught at West Texas State Teachers College from 1924-1933, received a doctorate from OU in 1933, served as curator of the Panhandle-Plains Historical Museum, Canyon, TX, 1933-1934.
In subsequent years she was primarily a researcher and writer of books on the Five Civilized Tribes, Geronimo, and the history of Native Americans and of Oklahoma. She also was a teacher, pastor, and director of the Federal Writers Project in Oklahoma. From 1947-1955 she was curator of maps at Oklahoma A&M College. After retirement in 1955 she wrote, lectured, traveled, researched family histories, served on the boards of directors of the Oklahoma Chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union and the Association on American Indian Affairs, made surveys for the Indian Rights Association, and lobbied for land rights for Indians in Alaska and for water rights for the Havasupai and Pima in Arizona. She authored nine books, edited three, co-authored another, wrote many chapters, articles, and forewords, and presented numerous papers on Native Americans and Oklahoma history. (For more information, visits the OSU Library Angie Debo Collection.)
The unveiling and dedication of the Angie Debo statue at the Stillwater Public Library was held on Thursday, Nov. 18. Oklahoma State University President Burns Hargis served as Master of Ceremonies and Oklahoma City University President Robert Henry and Chickasaw Governor Bill Anoatubby were guest speakers. Surrounding the base of the statue are seals of the 38 federally recognized Oklahoma Native American tribes. A Native American prayer and blessing by Dr. Pete Coser with helper Checotah Powless was performed after the unveiling. Attendance at the event was over 200. The dedication was the culminating event for the third community-wide reading event One Book, One Community, Stillwater Reads Angie Debo's Prairie City.
"The statue has been a work in progress since late 2007" stated Library Director, Lynda Reynolds. "It began with a donation from former Library Director Della Bennett to the Friends of the Stillwater Public Library. The Friends wanted to do something special with this donation and after committing additional funds they formed a community-wide committee to investigate the possibility of having a sculpture at the Stillwater Public Library which would be the first sculpture on City property."
The committee, chaired by Friends past-president, Bob Darcy, sent out a nationwide request for proposals seeking a sculpture that would "evoke a combination of libraries, reading, Stillwater, and/or Oklahoma." The committee received 16 nationwide proposals from 11 artists and selected Stillwater artist Phyllis Mantik and her proposal for a statue of Angie Debo. (See photo of the artist below).
Dr. Debo was selected as the subject of the sculpture due to her international recognition for books on Oklahoma's Native Americans, her work at the OSU Library, her home in nearby Marshall, her portrait recognition at the State Capitol and no known sculpture of Debo anywhere else in the nation. According to Mantik, "I chose to show Angie Debo as a young woman to focus on her character and highlight that at an early age she chose the life of a scholar rather than what was expected for a woman of her time."
The Stillwater Public Library Trust agreed to accept donations for the sculpture and received the first donation in May 2009. Committee chair Bob Darcy continued soliciting donations from the community, Oklahoma Native American tribes, and personal acquaintances of Angie Debo with total donations reaching almost $63,000.
In-kind contributions made possible a newspaper publication on Angie Debo which was distributed across the state to school children and the concrete base on which the statue sits surrounded by the Oklahoma tribal seals.
View the Dedication Ceremony