Angie Debo was born on January 30, 1890, less than one year after the Indian lands in Oklahoma Territory were opened for settlement. The Debo family did not participate in the Oklahoma land rush of 1889, but arrived ten years later when Debo was nine. She traveled to Marshall, Oklahoma Territory, in a covered wagon with her mother and younger brother, while her father rode ahead with the farm machinery. Debo wrote in her diary that she was hoping to see Indians as she reached Oklahoma, but instead only saw white settlers.
Oklahoma’s “greatest historian” was nine years old when she first set foot on Oklahoma soil on November 8, 1899, having arrived by covered wagon with her family from Kansas. Angie Debo described that day as a beautiful golden autumn morning—“The sky was clear blue, and green wheat stretched to the horizon.”
Her new home town was Marshall, Oklahoma, which did not have a four-year high school before 1910, so she was twenty-three when she graduated in 1913. Five years later, she earned a bachelor’s degree in history from the University of Oklahoma and in 1924 a master’s degree from the University of Chicago. She received a Ph.D. in history from Oklahoma in 1933. But even with a Ph.D, Angie Debo would never hold a position in a history department at a university, largely due to gender discrimination.
Debo turned to writing American Indian history and among her many discoveries she learned that much of eastern Oklahoma was dominated by a criminal conspiracy to cheat Indians out of their property. Her findings were published under the title: And Still the Waters Run.
She wrote, edited, or coauthored thirteen books in her lifetime. In 1985, in recognition of the various contributions she had made to American Indians, to her state, and to her profession, Oklahoma placed Debo’s portrait in the state capitol rotunda.
Dr. Angie Debo was a respected historian from Oklahoma, with her most notable research documenting the sovereign Native American nations located within the boundaries of her state. Born in 1890 in Beattie, Kansas, she moved to Marshall, Oklahoma Territory, with her family in 1899. She was a prolific researcher and writer as well as an activist for civil rights and Native American rights. This site provides a range of resources on Dr. Debo’s life, including primary source materials, contextual essays, photographs, publications, podcasts, and teacher resources, and it will continue to expand as additional assets are developed.; Oklahoma Stte University Archives
In 1936 Debo wrote And Still the Waters Run, a book about the theft from Indians of their lands in Indian Territory. Because the manuscript gave an unappealing view of the history of Oklahoma, at least unappealing to state government officials, and named prominent citizens and government leaders in the theft.
Debo was a leading scholar of Indian history, and her work has been cited as evidence in federal court cases involving tribal land rights. However, the state of Oklahoma did not recognize Debo’s lifelong achievements until the 1980s when she was in her 90s. Her portrait was hung in the state capital next to humorist Will Rogers, Indian athlete Jim Thorpe, and many of the state’s leaders she had exposed in her books. In 1993 Debo was inaugurated to the Oklahoma Historians Hall of Fame. She stated that she had one quality that got her through her long life and that quality was drive. Debo died in 1988.
SOURCE: Patricia Loughlin, “Debo, Angie Elbertha”(1890–1988) Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History and Culture.; Debo, Angie. “Angie Debo: Oklahoma Teacher, Historian, and Author” Interview by John Erling. Voices of Oklahoma, March 24, 2017; Center for Great Plains Studies
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