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Viola Durant McCurtain shares her experience as a Choctaw

   Viola Mae Durant McCurtain was born on Jan 29, 1920, to Jonas Durant and Wesleyann Washington Durant, both full blood Choctaws.

   Born in the McCurtain area, she is the youngest of all her siblings. She attended a small school in the McCurtain area when she was a young girl. When she was 10-years-old, she began school at Wheelock, where she was not allowed to speak in her native Choctaw language.Viola Durant

   Though the school administration strongly discouraged her from using the language, Viola would not let her native tongue be taken. "I imagine the school teachers had a time with me," said Viola.

   She attended Wheelock for nine years. She missed one year in the middle because her parents did not get her back to the school after a break. She did not get many breaks in her time at the Academy other than that. From September to May she would attend with no breaks, not even Christmas.

   While at Wheelock, Viola spends her time doing her duties. All of the students had different chores to do around the grounds. All over the campus, children of all ages would be sweeping and cleaning to keep the facilities looking nice.

   Other than learning discipline and how to clean, Viola and her fellow students learned to weave baskets from a woman who came from Broken Bow and spoke Choctaw to Viola. She learned beading as well.

   She sang in the choir and even led the Choctaw hymns. Viola and the choir would travel to different churches and sing for them.

   Viola made her dressed for her senior formal as well as her graduation. She learned those skills in her home economics class.

   Her friend, Aline Swink Ward from McAlester, played basketball together. Aline would play guard while Viola played forward. The played Gavin, Hayworth and Valiant.

   While she was in junior high, the school took in two twins who had been orphaned. The administration taught the older girls how to care for the children and by the time Viola was in high school, she was taking care of them as well.

   Upon leaving Wheelock Academy, Viola was 19-years-old. She wished to attend McCurtain School, but due to some family and money issues she ended up at National Youth Association in Stigler. She would go for two weeks and go how for two weeks while she was paid to go to school there. 

   She attended that school for a few months before getting married to Oscar Otis McCuratin on May 4, 1940 at a county church called Siloam Spring United Methodist Church just outside of Stigler.

   There were only a handful of people to witness the then 20-year-old Viola be wed. Oscar had a child with a previous marriage that Viola wished to raise, but Oscar's former wife was doing that duty.

   Oscar was thirty when they married and he was working in McCurtain. The couple had two children together during their marriage.Viola Oscar

   Oscar joined the military in 1942 and went to Germany. He sustained an ankle injury and was a prisoner of war for around six months. While he was gone, his son Oscar Jr. was born.

   When Oscar returned from the service the couple got a truck. Viola learned how to drive on a country road outside of McCurtain. Oscar did various jobs like farming and haying when he returned as well.

   The couple used to go dancing at country-dances in people's homes. They enjoyed square dancing, round dancing and the waltz. Viola had been taught to dance in her younger days and dancing had been in her life from an early age.

   She used to know the Choctaw dances as well as other native ways of dancing.

   Oscar went to school on a G.I. Bill in Okmulgee. The couple rented a place and stayed for about a year before moving back to McAlester for Oscar to work in the ammunition depot located in the area.

   They later moved to Talihina in 1956 to work for the hospital and worked there in housekeeping until his retirement in the early 1070s.

   Viola stayed in the home while Oscar worked. She did small jobs such as a school aid and nutrition for low-income families.

   Oscar passed away in 2000 from a heart attack. Since then Viola has attended the events at the Choctaw Community Center. She has taken part in many crafts such as crochet, basketry and beading while with the center.

This article and others came from the Choctaw Nation Biskinik. To see more history please refer to the following sites.
Sounds of Choctaw - Social Greeting
Sounds of Choctaw - Weather
Lesson of the Day