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“Old Indian Ways” of Predicting the Weather: Senator Robert S. Kerr and the Winter Predictions of 1950–51 and 1951–52

“Old Indian Ways” of Predicting the Weather: Senator Robert S. Kerr and the Winter Predictions of... In September 1950, U.S. Senator Robert S. Kerr (D-Oklahoma) wrote to Indian leaders across the United States in order to “make some determination with regard to whether or not we are going to have an early winter and whether or not we may expect a hard winter.” Even though he had access to U.S. Weather Bureau predictions and other scientific data, Kerr and his administrative assistant, Ben Dwight, a member of the Choctaw Nation and its onetime Principal Chief, wrote that they “would like to know what some of the Indians in the various sections of the nation think about our coming winter probabilities.” Kerr and Dwight indicated they had a “high regard for the old Indian ways of determining such things—because they are practical and have always been able to make some very accurate predictions.” From 33 letters sent to tribes in 1950 (including 9 to tribes in Oklahoma) 3 responses were known to have been received; a follow-up letter-writing campaign in October 1951 was more fruitful, producing 8 known responses. This paper examines the tribal responses and explores the life and possible motivations of Senator Kerr, an influential man on the U.S. political stage during 1949–63, in seeking this information. This research is part of a broader field investigation that seeks to understand how Native Americans in Oklahoma conceptualize weather and climate, including traditional ways, and how their knowledge is helping to inform new efforts to farm sustainably and create food sovereignty. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Weather, Climate, and Society American Meteorological Society

“Old Indian Ways” of Predicting the Weather: Senator Robert S. Kerr and the Winter Predictions of 1950–51 and 1951–52

Weather, Climate, and Society , Volume 2 (3) – Dec 10, 2009

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Publisher
American Meteorological Society
Copyright
Copyright © 2009 American Meteorological Society
ISSN
1948-8335
eISSN
1948-8335
DOI
10.1175/2010WCAS1055.1
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

In September 1950, U.S. Senator Robert S. Kerr (D-Oklahoma) wrote to Indian leaders across the United States in order to “make some determination with regard to whether or not we are going to have an early winter and whether or not we may expect a hard winter.” Even though he had access to U.S. Weather Bureau predictions and other scientific data, Kerr and his administrative assistant, Ben Dwight, a member of the Choctaw Nation and its onetime Principal Chief, wrote that they “would like to know what some of the Indians in the various sections of the nation think about our coming winter probabilities.” Kerr and Dwight indicated they had a “high regard for the old Indian ways of determining such things—because they are practical and have always been able to make some very accurate predictions.” From 33 letters sent to tribes in 1950 (including 9 to tribes in Oklahoma) 3 responses were known to have been received; a follow-up letter-writing campaign in October 1951 was more fruitful, producing 8 known responses. This paper examines the tribal responses and explores the life and possible motivations of Senator Kerr, an influential man on the U.S. political stage during 1949–63, in seeking this information. This research is part of a broader field investigation that seeks to understand how Native Americans in Oklahoma conceptualize weather and climate, including traditional ways, and how their knowledge is helping to inform new efforts to farm sustainably and create food sovereignty.

Journal

Weather, Climate, and SocietyAmerican Meteorological Society

Published: Dec 10, 2009

References