[Narrator 1:] It was a well known fact that if you sat by Roberta Campbell Lawson at church you had to listen. She would not tolerate note writing or wiggling and going to sleep was out of the question. After all, she would tell you, the preacher was her grandfather and besides he was the Chief of the Delaware Tribe. He was a man who deserved attention and respect. Respect that she held all of her life, as she became a part of the Oklahoma image.
[Narrator 2:] They came to Oklahoma from many nations. Newcomers to a new land, looking for better opportunities, a chance to begin again and what remains is their heritage. A rich heritage, that has become the Oklahoma image.
[Narrator 1:] Roberta Campbell Lawson was the granddaughter of Charles Journeycake, the last Chief of the Delaware Tribe in Indian Territory. He later became an ordained minister and she was devoted to the man. She recalled how he told her stories of his life and the great past of the Delaware Tribe. He told of the signing of a treaty under an elm tree, in what is now Philadelphia, that established what they called "unbroken faith" between the Delawares and the newcomers. That faith was stretched but never broken by the moves that seem to be forced on the Delawares. Further and further west they moved until finally they settled in what was then the northeast part of the Cherokee Nation. Here the Delawares were welcome and they stayed.
[Narrator 1:] Shortly after that, in Alluwe, Indian Territory in 1878, his granddaughter Roberta was born. Her mother was a daughter of Chief Journeycake. Her father, a Virginian, made a comfortable living in the merchantile and cattle businesses. Although Roberta lived most of her life in this northeastern Oklahoma area, she was well known in her state, the United States and in the world. Her contributions to the image of Oklahoma are numerous.
[Light music plays]
[Narrator 1:] In college, Roberta studied music. There she perfected her singing and piano playing and learned to compose music. She used her musical skills to preserve some of the old Delaware songs that might otherwise have been lost. She wrote a book about Indian music, an area in which her pioneering efforts remain almost unchallenged. In later life, as a member of the Hyechka Club (an organization to further the musical culture of the city of Tulsa), Roberta Campbell-Lawson was called one of the club's most distinguished members. Her collection of Indian musical instruments and materials was truly remarkable.
[Narrator 1:] Roberta was also quite active in civic affairs. She helped organize and was President of the first Women's Club in Nowata which was the first Federated Club in Indian Territory. She later became President of the Oklahoma Federation of Women's Clubs. After considerable work and preparation by serving the Federation in various roles, Roberta Campbell Lawson was elected as leader of three million women from around the world as President of the General Federation of Women's Clubs. She held this office from 1935-1938.
[Narrator 1:] As with many effective leaders, Roberta Lawson was invited to serve in the higher education field. She was a member of the Board of Regents of Oklahoma College for Women in Chickasha where a dormitory was named for her. She also served on the Board of Trustees for the University of Tulsa. It was on this campus that she took part in the ceremony of planting an elm tree in 1933. In her speech, she named the tree Lenni Lenape Elm in honor of the Delaware Tribe that had moved so often but had finally established roots in northeastern Oklahoma.
[Narrator 1:] Charles Journeycake would have been proud of his granddaughter, after all, he had been the inspiration for her achievements. As he had served others, so had she. His reward had been a deeper devotion to the cause of service, as hers had been. Oklahoma recognized her services and inducted Roberta Lawson into the Oklahoma Hall of Fame.
[Narrator 2:] This program was produced by the Oklahoma Image Project, funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities and brought to you as a public service by this station. Oklahoma Image is sponsored by the Oklahoma Department of Libraries and the Oklahoma Library Association.
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Part of the Oklahoma Image Statewide Humanities Project, promoting Newcomers to a New Land book series and the Oklahoma Image Project.
Copyright of this digital resource, Oklahoma Department of Libraries, 2008. For further information regarding use please consult the Rights and Permissions page, http://www.crossroads.odl.state.ok.us/shell/rights.php or contact the holding institution of the digital resource.
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