NORMAN, Okla. – Thousands of Native American students representing dozens of different tribes from across the country have attended the University of Oklahoma over the past century, and each of them in their own way have left a mark on the school and the lives of their fellow students.
One area where that impact has been most evident is athletics, especially within the OU football program. From the moment that Chickasaw Tribal member Key Wolf became the first Native to play for the Sooners in 1906, a significant legacy was born – and that tradition remains strong and powerful today.
In recognition of that legacy, Redzone Publishing and Sooner Spectator magazine are extremely proud to announce the release their third Native American Issue since 2012. The issue features former OU mascot Little Red on the cover and a 16-page section on key student-athletes who have helped enhance the tradition and history that Natives have established over the last 108 years.
“Native Americans have played such a significant role in so many aspects of campus life at the University of Oklahoma. They are an essential part of the fabric that is OU and OU athletics,” said Jay C. Upchurch, editor of Sooner Spectator. “Looking back at the history of OU football, Natives have been there basically every step of the way — helping build a tradition that many believe is the greatest in college athletics.”
The third edition of Sooner Spectator’s tribute to Native Americans takes a look at a family legacy left by a Cherokee father and his two sons, who each earned letters for the Sooners during their respective stays. Robert Vardeman and his sons, Ryan and Barry, share their story of love for a university and the pride they have in their heritage.
The issue also includes a look back at James Nairn, a member of the Delaware Tribe, and how he followed in the footsteps of Key Wolf and went on to make a name for himself – earning two degrees form OU while helping the football program posts its first-ever undefeated season in 1911. Nairn, a native of Nowata, Okla., eventually returned home to practice law and enjoy a successful career in politics.
“It has been both interesting and fun going back and rediscovering some of the stories of Native players who have been a vital part of the university,” said Upchurch. “These special sections are dedicated to shedding light on some of those people and the success stories they have forged as Sooners.”
The new issue also examines the on-going debate over former OU mascot Little Red, who was abolished more than 40 years ago, but who remains one of the most beloved representatives of OU pride and athletics.
Officially titled “Spring Football Issue” – with a special Native American Section — the new issue will hit newsstands across the state in late April. Single copies or subscriptions can be purchased by contacting Upchurch via email at email@example.com.