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The Archivist: Is OU campus protected by Indian legend?

Mary Phillips: Is the University of Oklahoma protected from tornadoes?
BY MARY PHILLIPS Published: July 1, 2013

The University of Oklahoma campus is protected from tornadoes by an old Indian legend, according to an article from The Oklahoman on June 15, 1913.

The headline boasts: “UNIVERSITY BUILT ON HOLY GROUND Indians Believed Present Site of School Protected from Storms.”

“From the favorite hunting grounds of blanketed Indians to a squatter's claim, thence to the site of one of the first universities in the entire southwest, and all in twenty-four years, sounds more like fable than history, but nevertheless it is true of the present site of the University of Oklahoma.”

“Thirty years ago there were not a dozen families with the radius of twenty-five miles of this particular ground. It was merely a part of the great prairies grazed over by thousands of head of cattle, and hunted over by Indians of a dozen tribes.”

Indians would often travel during the summers from the northeast to the Wichitas to gather with southwestern tribes. They would make the trip back north for the winter.

“As they returned, the country around Norman was sure to hold them several days. It was ‘Holy Ground' in their language, for they said a bad storm would never strike it. Twisters, the old Indian sages declared, would pass all around the country, but would leave the Holy Ground unravished. True to their prophecy, the great cyclone a few years later, that killed and wounded eighty-four persons came straight towards Norman to within five miles of the town when it split and went part north and part south of the old camping ground.”

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