tv [untitled] May 6, 2012 9:30pm-10:00pm EDT
similarities of the people probes for information and to recognize the past is different in their own lives and it can take different forms and they can be empowered. not every crisis say golden opportunity and there moments when we had some control over how we shape the future and they ought to seize those reigns of power. >> really just to add on to that, history is not uniquely necessary, but a good position to do. to draw attention not only to the structural dimentions of things that people experience on very individualized and isolated ways. they draw attention to the ethical dimension of what is happening right now and draws
attention and enables students to get away from what's unfolding now. the theme of his conference. very big changes and questions about the relationship between capitalism and democracy that has changed overtime. that changes really because of human agency. not because of some forces. it happens because of choices and especially political choices that are there. >> thanks for joining us here and the annual meeting and organization of historians. >> thank you. . >> now more from this year's annual meeting from the organization of american historians and the council of
public history. they recently met in milwaukee, wisconsin. we speak with the chief historian who told us about the park's efforts to interpret historical sites. this is about 15 minutes. >> american history tv is at the annual meeting of the organization of american historians in milwaukee and joining us is the national parks reference historian, chief historian robert sutton. what brings you to this meeting other than the gathering of historians. >> the gathering, but we do a lot of work with the organization of american historians. so the number of historians within the organization do studies for us and help us with the interpretation of parks. we had a fairly long and very, very beneficial partnership with the organization of american
historians. >> you are participating on a couple of discussions on native americans and also on the civil war. what was the focus of the first one. >> well, we -- it's very willing. we have a number of parks that deal with native american history. we have a number of park that is the main focus was not native american history, but there amazing stories. for example, the battlefield was established as a civil war battlefield. for years and years and years, we toll the story of the battle that took place there. >> that is in northwest arkansas. for years and years we told the story of the battle that took place there. it was a union victory and we were critical and tried to keep missouri in the union and
typical park service fashion, we did a lot of telling of who shot who and when, where, and how. a lot of stories there as well. 16,000 on the confederate side and about 10,000 on the union side and they won the battle. that was unusual at that time. when they were outnumbered, they didn't win. the other story is that there were about 1,000 cherokee indians fighting. many of the cherokee leaders and commanders were slave holders. they had a lot more in common with the confederacy than they did with a union. so that's a story that we had not told, but we are telling. we consulted with the cherokee nation. the other story was about half of the union was german.
>> those are german immigrants. >> yes. another story that has nothing do to do with the battle, the trail on which the cherokees were escorted from the homeland in the east were indian territo territory. they go through the middle of the park. now the park told the story of the trail as well. what is beneficial with the interpretation, they tell these stories and they also say if you want to learn more, the capital of the cherokee nation, we woulding is you go there for a visit as well. >> how many parks do you see looking at the history? >> well, i don't really oversee all the parks. i provide guidance and i try the parks that have similar themes and try to get them working
together so they can share resources. about 2/3 of the parks are historical and i have more interest in them, but a lot have very important image things and stories as well. >> the national park service weekend is when? >> founded in 1916, but the first national park was yellowstone established in 1872. there were a number of national parks before there was a national park service. >> when did we start to establish a position of a historian? >> there was a chief historian in the early 1930s. 1931. that's one of the oldest positions in upper level management in the park service. >> what sort of issues do you have with the changing story at
p ridge? i assume others have these sorts of things, but what issues do you have with doing research in a park that is being used by visitors and by tourists and yet you are involved on a historical nature whether that is an archaeological dig and doing research? >> one of the things we have done before this. one of the things we started doing when i was there and i continued since i have been here is trying to expand the story of the civil war again and who shot who where and when. the story of the cherokees and the germans and the trail of tears. that wasn't the reason that congress established that park, but it's an important story that we tell. it's much more enriching to
visitors. in other battle fields across the park service, we have been expanding our interpretation to talk about what caused the war. that sometimes is not a popular issue. slavery very clearly was the cause of the civil war. we have been saying that through interpreting a and films and exhibits and most of them have included that story. then our programs. we talk about the impact on families. the number that we have used and actually was established shortly after. 620,000 that were killed in the civil war. there is recent research that suggests that number was probably higher and some say as high as 850,000. imagine what it was like from the families of these 620,000 or 850,000 who didn't return home.
there were a number who returned home without missing limbs and post traumatic shock they didn't understand at the time. the impact was tremendous beyond the impact of the civil war itself. it was a tremendous impact on families. >> starting last year and over the next couple of years, we are looking at the 150th anniversary of this civil war. you talked about the things that you are doing in your parks. what else for the 150th should people be on the look out for? >> one of the homestead parks in homestead national memorial in nebraska, that commemorates the homestead and the gentlemen filed his claim one minute after midnight on january 1st, 1863.
160 acres. that part commemorates the homestead act that was one of the important pieces of legislation and the conference a couple of weeks ago in nebraska on the homestead act and the moral act and pacific railroad act. there a lot of domestic and terribly important pieces of legislation that had not been passed. >> that are got passed in the civil war? >> right. just this past week, april 16th was the 150th anniversary of the e mans payimancipation of slave. in addition commemorating the battles of the civil war. >> how long have you been a historian with the park service? >> i have been a historian and have been in the park service for 29 years. part of that time i was in the administration.
that meant sometimes i was a historian and sometimes i was not. i have been in the park service mostly doing history. >> you talked about the changing nature of story. how has the way that visitors interact with exhibits, what's different about the way that visitors look at exhibits and what are they more entered in? does it mean that you have to have video displays and all of those things? >> part of the problem with the exhibits, many especially in civil war battle feels are many, many years old. a lot of them were erected in the 1950s and 60s. they are very out of date. the national park service exhibits are different from museum exhibits in that the purpose of our exhibits should be and hopefully are to or i don't want people to the
historic site. what we want them to do is look at the exhibits. we want them to understand the significance and look at the site. unlike the museum, you go to look at the museum with most of our exhibits that are for the purpose of orienting people to the site. >> what's the traffic like? how is visitation in the national parks? >> the visitation is -- last few years has been around 170 or 270 or 280 million a year. >> in all national parks. >> all national parks. someone asked me about that a couple of weeks ago. i decided if that were a country, it would be the fourth largest country. if that was a population, we
still have something that varies. it's around that. >> i will wrap up by asking you, in conjunction with the national park service which was presented at the conference in front of a sizable crowd, what is that about? >> we're commissioned the american historians to do a survey within the park service. we have in the government a classification for different positions. the classification for historians is gs 170. i am sure everyone is thrilled to know that, but we have a number of employees in the park service trained as historians. we tried to identify as many as we could from all of the historians whether in the classification or not. so we did the survey of about 1500 in the park service and we got about 500 responses.
about 30 or 35% responses. what we were looking at is what are we doing? we did a good job and are we not doing a good job and some things are done well and some things are not so well. what can we do to improve both the profession of history in the parks service and not by replacing, but providing the tools to do a better job. what are we doing and how can we tell stories that are important to the visitors or accurate and reflect the most recent research in history? also we are looking at what can we do to make the park service better and we think we can do a lot with this report. >> robert sutton is the national historian with the park service. thank you for joining us. >> thank you.
appreciate it. >> all weekend long, american history is joining the cox communications cable partners in oklahoma city to showcase the rich history. to learn more about the local content vehicles and the 2012 tour, visit c-span.org/local content. we continue with the look at oklahoma city. this is american history tv on c-span 3. >> my name is bill parks and i welcome you to the state capital of oklahoma. i spent time taking a look at a beautiful building. we start with solomon lake, the principal architect on the capitol. this is a 1915 drawing of the capitol and i show this to folks so they understand the dome was a part of the plan in the beginning. the building was built without the dome between 1914 and 1917. they did not build the dome then
because they ran out of money, but they built the supporting substructure. when we got around to building the dome beginning in 2001, we were able to start at the roof line and go up. the base of the building is covered with pink and black granite from oklahoma and lime stone on the main part. the dome is covered with a man made stone and that's how they were able to match the building as well as they did. the floors are alabama marble chosen for its durability. you will see vermont marble in the baseboards and you see it in the steps and the pillars throughout the building. through the efforts of senator charles forbes, we added 100 pieces of artwork and he is quick to add at no cost to the state. this piece is by wayne cooper
called the magic of petroleum and they are taking water with recollect diseases. this is governor mary fallon's office. she is not only the first woman, but the first woman and the first republican lieutenant governor in 1995. right around the corner from her office is todd lamb's office. they are elected separately and could be a different political party. they are both republicans this time around and both are elected for four-year terms. this is the guardian. sculpted by senator kelly haley. one of the former state senators. senator haney's statue represents oklahoma.
there 39 indian tribes in the neighborhood of something like 60 tribes. notice that the spear he has driven through his buying in the ground and said that means he is staying to protect the capitol. >> is this of a particular person? >> no. it is as generic as he could make it so it represented all the indians of oklahoma rather than a particular person or tribe. >> where is this? >> this is the hall of governors. a bust of each of the former governors. all of them except for the last three down on the right were done by leonard mcmurray for the 75th state hood anniversary in 1982. of the governors, william henry murray is probably my favorite.
he has more stories to be told about him than any other governor in the group. he was the president of the constitutional convention. he was the first speaker of the house of representatives. had to wait a while before he got to be governor, but in the four years he was governor, he called out the national guard more than 40 times. more than all the rest of them put together. over all kinds of things. there was a free bridge built to texas. the folks that had the toll bridge his a court injunction to keep it closed. he took the national guard down and they opened the bridge and closed the toll bridge. during his administration, the price of oil dropped to 18 cents and he said we are not pumping oil until it goes back to a dollar. the problem we had with people scalping football tickets at the university of oklahoma. on football weekends, he was
making sure nobody made money on the football tickets. 20 years after he was governor, his governor, hisson johnson was governor, and they're the only father and son governors so far. i think it's ironic that bill opened the free bridge. johnson opened oklahoma's first turnpike. the painting in the arch way "beyond the centennial" by carlos tao. very different from all the other art work in the capitol. the big red figure in the center represents the universal man or all oklahomans. you have the state wild flower.
our state tree. the state bird. and by his other hand, an astronaut. there have been more astronauts go into space from oklahoma than any other state in thedown yoon. has to be fished by the last friday any may. so they're in session four months of the years. we have 48 state senators elected for four years. the lieutenant governor is the president of the senate but not active in the role. and a little bit of our history from 1907 to 2006, the democrats had the majority. so it was a democrat. in 2006 we had a tie. so they elected a democrat and a republican and they alternated
days. it turns out the first year of the session there were no tie votes at all. in the second year, there were only four. so it really made the situation. the picture is the constitutional convention. there were 112 men from oklahoma territory that gathered there. in the scepter case we have the original oklahoma state constitution. 110 pages long, making it the longest state constitution in the country, as it was originally written. they had 48 of the first 48 sections should have been done by the legislature. section 17. roughly half of the document is
a description of county boundaries, the names of county seats and the method for changing county boundaries. if you go to guthrie, thooil tell you we stole this from them. i'm of the opinion it was not stealing because we did have an election in 1910 several versions of that story. they had car trouble on the way. this is the supreme court of the state of oklahoma.
originally five justices elected by the people. today there are nine and they are appointed by the governor. in the next general election their name will be on the ballot and we hope to retain them for six years every six years after that their name will be on the bat lol. the wood work imported from the west indies in 1916. the pillars are one piece of solid vermont marble. each weighs about 10,000 pounds. the supreme court meets mondayses and thursdays.
the work is based on written records. so they meet in a conference room. only when they have a case with lot of public interest will they meet here in the courtroom. most of the work is how the lower courts are doing the work so it's not the thing where you have to have oral arkts. >> is it common to have the supreme court housed in the capitol building? >> my understanding is we were one of the very few people states where all three branches of government were still in the capitol building. apparently it's unusual for the supreme court to be housed in the capitol.
there are 45 small stars that stand for the 45 states before oklahoma. in the large star, they were forced to come in end in territory. it makes a good picture of the combining of oklahoma territory and indiana territory to make the state of oklahoma inform 1907. this is your best look at the dome. there's a ring that marks the beginning of new construction. everything about that line was. >> how long did it take for them
to add the dome? >> 16 months. started in april of '01, and they were finished by october of '02. from the beginning there was always a group of people who wanted to finish the capitol and build the dome through the years different groups have time to raise money. the governor put the right people together to raise the money. his goal was to have the centennial looking like it was supposed to look, as it was originally designed. the large paintings are by charles banks wilson. he starts with the history of
oklahoma. this is on the early frontier. one interesting thing about wilson, he does not make things up. all the people are real people. all the background scenes are actual oklahoma locations. probably will never forget that because i had his twin granddaughters on tour one day. and they made sure that everybody knew that was their grandfather. to me it sounded like they wanted to come here. i have never understood that. in the upper right hand corner you'll see a depiction of the trail of tears. the reason is some of them were
wealthy enough that they were able to come off the the arkansas river by boat. the art work is what draws me to the building, what sets the building apart. and just the stories that go with the art work. across the way we have will rogers. he was actor, cowboy, humorist. will rogers is from oklahoma. people need to know. around there we have a cher key who developed a cherokee alphabet. just a wonderful story. because he was not literate in a better language. came up with the best way to write down the cherokee language.