J. Y. Bryce
A residence of more than fifty years in this country compels me to say that Oklahoma has a distinctive civilization; we grew up under an Indian civilization, or in other words, a civilization that was characteristic of the five civilized tribes, who were the dominant element in their respective localities.
As the years went by this former civilization was blended with a civilization that was somewhat southern in its character, owing to the influx of the southerner coming here from the adjoining states. These two distinctive types of civilization have passed away, with the passing of many other former day experiences, and we have, in the making, a new order of things that is fast culminating into a definite civilization peculiar Oklahoman.
For a number of years we had Indian Territory with their five civilized tribes and a few pioneers, on the east; and in the west the Plains Indians with a few cattle men and Government employees, all of whom were more or less responsible for the civilization of the section in which they lived. But today our civilization is purely Oklahoman, no one will dare say it is Indian Territory or Oklahoma Territory Civilization, neither can it be said that it is of the north, east, south, or west; it is more than probable that these former civilizations have gone into the making of present day civilizations, taking the good here and there and putting them together into this greater, more stable, more definable something, which we call the march of the ages, or the progress of nations, all of which is in accord with Winston and Webster as they define civilization to be "a state marked by advancement, enlightenment and progress in general"; "state of being refined in manners and improved in arts and letters"; "culture."
History students will tell you that we are subject to change, and that anything that does not change is chained and sure to die. They will also tell you that the great civilizations of the world have undergone many changes, taking the
best elements here and there and putting them into the making of a better civilization.
Oklahoma has a peculiar civilization, or rather, cosmopolitism. It cannot be said that her civilization is southern, northern, western, or eastern. As a civilization she is free from the prejudices of any locality and today has a civilization that is developing under the tuition of a citizenship from all parts of our great Republic.
As southerners we will always cherish the memories of those illustrious characters who gave to us a civilization characteristic of the days in which they lived, and this civilization will be perpetuated in the folklore of the south; but as no civilization, with all that is included in that word, can outlast its usefulness; so the civilization of the South can never become the dominating civilization of Oklahoma, neither can that of any other section of the globe. Oklahoma’s civilization is the product of her present citizenship, and her future civilization will be the product of her future citizenship.
The social activities and the religious preferences of Oklahoma today and tomorrow is, and will continue to be, the natural consequence of the cosmopolitan citizenship to be found within her borders. The citizens of this country have confronting them the building of a great commonwealth, and the sooner they forget some of the things of the past that were dear to our forefathers the sooner will we be able to respond to the demands of the civilization of today. The north, east, south and west may have in turn their particular civilization, but it cannot be said of Oklahoma that she has the civilization of any one of them.
J. Y. BRYCE.