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Editor’s Letter – 12/5/18

Reading is the best part of my job. I get a sharp hit of dopamine when a writer’s story pings my inbox—not only because it means we’re one step closer to putting the next issue to bed, but because it means I get to spend time with yet another thoughtful piece of writing about the city I’m learning and the state I love. The job has its stresses—my colleagues are currently snickering at this understatement—but being the first to read these wonderful stories about our community is one of its deepest pleasures.

Another is sharing them with you, which I’m particularly thrilled to do this time around. Our cover story by Lyndsay Knecht is an absolute stunner. It’s a beautiful and rich piece of longform arts reporting, tracing the history of regional ballet in the United States through five world-renowned Native American dancers from Oklahoma.

These 20th century ballerinas, known as The Five Moons, are depicted in Mike Larsen’s iconic “The Flight of the Spirit” painting in the rotunda of the Oklahoma State Capitol. That’s them, too, sculpted in bronze on the west lawn of the Tulsa Historical Society. (Once you know these dancers, you’ll see them everywhere.) With Tulsa Ballet’s annual production of “The Nutcracker” right around the corner, now seemed like the perfect time to share this epic story about these incredible women and their contribution to our state and the country writ large.

In these pages you’ll also find a captivating chronicle by Russell Cobb about the uncertain future of a free press for the Muscogee (Creek) Nation. His story explores the recent shakeup at Mvskoke Media—the Nation’s radio, television, and newspaper outlet—which was re-classified on Nov. 8 as an entity of the tribal Department of Commerce, rather than one overseen by an independent editorial board governed by the ethics of the Native American Journalists Association and the Society of Professional Journalists.

The move could have disastrous consequences for a free Indigenous press. Moreover, Russell’s excellent piece explores how this latest controversy comes at a crucial moment for the Muscogee (Creek) Nation, and Indian Country more broadly, whose tribal sovereignty is quite literally on trial at the Supreme Court in Carpenter v. Murphy.

I’m also excited to share a story I wrote about the Gilcrease Museum’s upcoming exhibit about The Chisholm Kid, the first black cowboy to ever be featured in a comic strip. We’ve also got a piece by Mary Noble about “building power” in North Tulsa; Barry Friedman’s latest interview with Tulsa mayor G.T. Bynum; a guide to holiday gift memberships; plus tons of colorful and compelling stories about eating, drinking, and living together in this beautiful, complicated city. Happy reading!   

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