Local family brings Black Indian heritage to Enid community

  • Published
  • By A1C Jennifer Jackson
  • Public Affairs
November is celebrated as Native American Heritage Month, and many people in the local area are aware of American Indian presence in Oklahoma. Some people know about the Trail of Tears and some Indian battles and traditions. Few, however, are familiar with the contributions made by Black Indians or their place in the history of Native Americans, but one Enid family is trying to change that.
Just minutes away from Vance Air Force Base is the Southern Heights Heritage Center and Museum, a treasure trove for those hunting for information about Black Indians.
Angela Molette and her family founded the center/museum to share with the community their contributions and history as Black Indians and African Americans.
Mrs. Molette, along with her husband, Edgar, and her parents, Robert and Barbara Finley, started the heritage center/museum from the ground up. This is the only center of its type in northwestern Oklahoma.
Barbara Finley wants the heritage center to grow and be able to educate the community and develop programs to attract people of all ages.
The family has a wealth of knowledge when it comes to Black Indian history. Mrs. Molette believes that Black Native Americans have been around since prehistoric times and that the majority of African Americans in the United States today can trace their heritage to Black Indians.
Mrs. Molette has made several trips to Washington, D.C., to represent Black Indians, trying to bring them into the public eye for the representation.
When she visited for the Smithsonian's premiere of the American Indian Museum trip, "it was certainly a breathtaking and memorable event," she said. "We arrived with the sun rising to highlight a sea of bright colors shining from the Indian dress."
She has also participated in a Black Indian March on Washington, held to make people aware of the fact that Black Indians did sign treaties, but they are not getting their treaty rights.
The Molettes and Finleys are very involved with preserving their heritage and they want to pass on their knowledge to people in the area to help keep it alive. "Knowing who you are is everything", said Mrs. Molette.
The family can help anyone get started in tracing their roots. "One of the purposes of the museum is to be a resource center for the people in the community," Barbara Finley said.
People can visit the Southern Heights Heritage Center from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays at 616 Leona Mitchell Blvd. in Enid. For more information, call 237-6989.