Download audio file (trailoftears.mp3)
In this interview Mark talks to his friend, Eric from Oklahoma about the cowboy culture in that part of the United States.
Mark : Hello everybody. I am just sitting here in a room..in a big classroom here..and I am talking to my friend, Eric. Eric comes from Oklahoma. Where do you come from exactly, Eric?
Eric : I come from southern Oklahoma about a fifteen minute drive from the Texas border. The nearest big city is Dallas, which is about ninety minutes by car.
Mark : Dallas is in Texas, isn’t it?
Eric : That’s right. Dallas, Texas.
Mark : Wow, right ok, so you’re a southerner?
Eric : aah…yes, I am a southerner.
Mark : What differences are there between the north and the south in the United States?
Eric : Well there are a lot of areas of the north and areas of the south so its difficult to characterize…but…you know…basically…the area that I come from…maybe people are a bit more friendly and.. ..helpful…for instance if you have car troubl…its very likely that a nice person will stop and try to help you instead of a bad person stop and try to hurt you…
Mark : Right…right…
Eric :…or something…not to say that people in the north won’t help you out too…but I think…there is a bit more of a friendly helpful spirit…in the part of the south that I come from.
Mark : I see. I think a lot of warm countries…the people have a kind of a laidback relaxed helpful friendly sort of attitude…I think that’s a common thing…
Eric : Mm
Mark : I wanted to ask you about something…I come from Mt Isa…a little mining town…in the central area of Australia…in Queensland…in northwest Queensland specifically…and…when I grew up there…it is a mining town…but it was also a regional centre for all the local cowboys…and we had a huge cowboy culture…once a year everybody would put on cowboy hats and cowboy boots…and there were these bull rides and bronco rides….and…people came from all over the country…and sometimes from other countries…to win prize money for sitting on these animals for eight seconds, I think it was…you have cowboy culture in Oklahoma as well?
Eric : Yes, we have a lot of people who dress in cowboy type attire every day…
Mark : Mmm…hm
Eric : …these people wear cowboy boots and cowboy hats and blue jeans and western style shirts…every day…everywhere they go…its their real clothes for every day…its not just a once in a while dress up thing…so its quite interesting for outsiders sometimes to see this kind of cowboy country and western culture..
Mark : So its like a culture within a culture…America is so many cultures…so…what do you say…cowboy culture or western culture?
Eric : (laughs) Yeah..I don’t know what to call it..but certainly there is a lot of country style…yeah…a lot of large pickup trucks and country and western music everywhere you go. Country and western dancing and country and western bars
Mark : Howabout rodeos? Do you have a rodeo?
Eric : Oh of course they have a rodeo every year. I haven’t been since I was a child but yes of course they have at least one rodeo every year in my town.
Mark : Right. When I was a child we saw a lot of cowboy and Indian films…on TV…we learned about America…not the real place but the Hollywood version of that place…and as I got older I read a little bit more about what really happened in history…for example…you mentioned to me once something about the the trail of tears…what is that?
Eric : Well the five civilized tribes were relocated from their relatively nice lands in the east and sent on a forced march all the way…half way across the United States…to Oklahoma…where they were each given some land…and it was called the trail of the tears because many many people died on the way as a result of this forced march.
Mark : Right.
Eric : So..aaahm…It is easy to criticize some other cultures for what they have done in the past..for instance the Germans for what they did to the Jews…but…aah…you can also look at the bad things that the American government did to the native Americans…and see that we don’t have much room to talk.
Mark : Don’t get me started on the American government…don’t get me started!