The Eagle

Troy Anderson

The lush scenery of the Ozark Mountains inspired Troy Anderson to become an artist at an early age and a love of nature shines through in many of his works. The Eagle, a bronze representation of a golden eagle, took first place in the Red Earth Festival Art Competition in 2011. It was purchased for the Oklahoma Judicial Center collection based on the recommendation of Winston John Eagle Kauger Scambler.

“Most people are familiar with the bald eagle, but the golden eagle is actually larger and more impressive,” Anderson said. Golden eagles typically have a wingspan of six to seven and a half feet. The powerful predators generally fly at speeds around 30 miles per hour, though they have been known to reach speeds as high as 150 miles per hour when diving after prey. “They are also more valued in Native American tradition.” Golden eagle feathers are used in various ways in ceremonies and symbolically to represent bravery. See Kiowa Black Leggings, page 79. Under current United States law, only registered Native American tribal members are allowed to obtain eagle feathers.

“I’ve always been intrigued by golden eagles.” Anderson said he saw one once on the plains of Kansas during a trip to Colorado. The birds typically hunt in open areas and pick nesting spots away from populated areas.

Anderson’s family lived in Delaware County, Oklahoma at the time of his birth, but had to drive across the Arkansas state line to the nearest hospital. He grew up in the Ozark Mountains of northeastern Oklahoma and went to Connors State College on a football scholarship, but after his first year, the conference dropped football. He transferred to West Texas State University where he took a bronze sculpture class. After earning his art degree, he taught high school art classes before becoming a professional artist.

Anderson said he didn’t do much bronze work until about 1982. At that time he set a goal of doing about one sculpture a year. “I got more and more into it,” he said. “About 20 years ago I started doing it full time.” Anderson credits Willard Stone with being one of those who influenced his art style, especially in the field of sculpture.

Anderson’s work has been recognized with the Grand Award or first place by a number of venues, including the Five Tribes Museum, the Cherokee National Historical Museum, the Heard Museum and the Southwest Market in Santa Fe. He has served as president of the American Indian and Cowboy Artist, Inc. and on the board of directors of the Five Civilized Tribes Museum. He designed the To Count Coup award given to the Ambassador of the Year at the Red Earth Festival and created the Trail of Tears Sesquicentennial Medallion for the Cherokee Nation.

Source: Phone interview April 23, 2013.

Not Forgotten

Troy Anderson

It is estimated that when Columbus landed in the New World, buffalo herds in the west may have numbered as high as 30,000,000. Native American tribes relied on the buffalo to sustain them, making use of the entire animal. When settlers arrived on the Plains, the herds dwindled, but the railroads carrying sports hunters dealt the most devastating blow to the species. By 1888, only 541 animals remained. Hunting restrictions were enacted the following year.

In 1901, President William McKinley designated an area of the Wichita Mountains in Comanche County as a forest reserve. His successor, Roosevelt, expanded both the area and the mission of the reserve, establishing America’s first national sanctuary devoted to preserving the buffalo. Writing in 1885, Roosevelt described the extermination of the buffalo as “a veritable tragedy of the animal world.” Once the land was set aside, the search for buffalo began. Six bulls and nine cows were shipped by rail from the Bronx Zoo in New York City. A delegation of Comanches led by Quanah Parker met the train when it arrived in Cache, Oklahoma. These fifteen animals were released and grew into the herd that now roams the Wichita Mountains National Wildlife Refuge. Today, the Wichita herd is maintained at 650, with excess animals sold in an auction each fall. Buffalo in the United States now number about 350,000. The state legislature named it as Oklahoma’s state animal in 1972.

Not Forgotten is a bronze sculpture of a buffalo, created by contemporary Cherokee artist Troy Anderson and donated by Justice John Reif, who was appointed to the Supreme Court of Oklahoma in 2007 by Governor Brad Henry. A buffalo was Anderson’s mascot when he was a student at West Texas State University. See Anderson’s other Oklahoma Judicial Center piece on page 162.

A note on usage: American Bison is the proper name for the largest land mammal native to the United States. However, this animal has long been referred to as a buffalo by many, including President Theodore Roosevelt and Chief Quanah Parker.

Source: Phone interview April 23, 2013.