TULSA, Okla. (KTUL) — Chief Geoffrey Standing Bear with the Osage Nation is standing up for the Chouteau family. He's making his case to keep the Chouteau Elementary name to the students.
"The Chouteau family is a large family of the Osage, and they are very important," said Chief Standing Bear. "We want to share that culture."
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In a special presentation on Friday, he and other members of the Osage tribe educated students on the Chouteau name. They decided to do this after Tulsa Public Schools continues to move forward with changing the school name.
"No one consulted with our Osage Nation when they wrote this document," said Chief Standing Bear.
The document he's talking about is from TPS. It states the school was named after Jean-Pierre Chouteau, who apparently owned slaves and was sued multiple times by slaves seeking freedom.
"Jean Pierre Chouteau, who founded St. Louis never actually never came to Oklahoma," said Mark Abshire, a descendant of the Chouteau family. "It was actually his sons and grandson that started the trading post in Oklahoma. Those are the Chouteaus we are proud of. There is some confusion over which Chouteau the school should be named after."
Abshire hopes the district does more research and maybe keeps the name, just name it after another Chouteau family member.
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"My job here, as a representative of the Chouteau family is just to make sure that history is correct," said Abshire. "Whatever decision Tulsa Public Schools makes, we will have to live with it, but I really do hope they don't rename the school."
For now, a vote to change the school name is still scheduled. The district hopes to have it changed by July 1.
The district says they hope to come to an agreement with the Osage Nation before then.