News & Events

History vs. Hollywood

Sep 22nd
Posted in Uncategorized

Johnny Depp’s Black Mass: History vs. Hollywood

Discover the true facts behind Tulsa’s Southern Hills murder

Q&A and book-signing

Saturday, October 17th, 11:00 AM

black mass posterHow much of Johnny Depp’s new movie “Black Mass” about Boston mobster Whitey Bulger and his part in the 1981 Southern Hills murder of Tulsan Roger Wheeler is really true?  On Saturday October 17,  BookSmart Tulsa’s Jeff Martin will ask retired Tulsa Homicide Detective Sgt. Mike Huff who investigated the case and Larry Yadon, co-author of the book “One Murder Too Many.”


James “Whitey” Bulger

In Black Mass Johnny Depp portrays James “Whitey” Bulger, who was a Boston crime boss for more than two decades. The film shows Bulger increasing his power through an alliance with the FBI, to become one of the most dangerous gangsters in U.S. history and evade capture for sixteen years.

Bulger’s downfall began with the murder of Tulsan Roger Wheeler at Southern Hills Country Club in May of 1981. Wheeler, a well-known entrepreneur, suspected that one of his investments was being skimmed by organized crime.. As Wheeler began to unravel the money trail, Bulger’s White Hill gang scurried to cover their tracks. Wheeler rejected the gang’s alleged attempts to stop his investigation, mistakenly believing his many well-funded connections within the FBI would protect him. Bulger dominated Boston organized crime for over a decade after the Wheeler murder, dropped out of sight in late 1994 but Detective Huff and Wheeler’s family never gave up their pursuit of justice. Their perseverance paid off when Bulger was apprehended in June of 2011.

About the Participants

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Mike Huff Photo Courtesy Tulsa World

Mike Huff’s father preached that life should be” full of adventure.” Huff took that to heart and launched a police career that became legendary as he hunted down Mafia hit men and other notorious killers over 37 years, logging some 1,000 arrests for homicide and solving mysterious cold cases. Huff has handled over 300 police shootings.

His work as Tulsa, Oklahoma’s most high-profile detective led Huff to testify in front of Congress and landed him a seat on “60 Minutes” for his work on a case of a corrupt FBI agent and a mob murder. Under Huff’s command as head of the Homicide Unit, the Tulsa Police Department cleared over 80 percent of the crimes they were assigned, compared to a national average of 59 percent. That is the highest solve rate in the country for a major city.

Huff retired in 2011, but he hasn’t hung up his skills as one of the top cold case detectives in the country. Huff helped create the International Association of Cold Case Investigators and he isn’t one to give up on age-old homicides whose victims still await justice.

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Larry Yadon

Laurence J. Yadon is an attorney, mediator, and arbitrator. He has assisted the Department of Justice in litigation matters before the local United States district court and helped prepare a major case successfully argued before the US Supreme Court. He is the co-author of Pelican’s 100 Oklahoma Outlaws, Gangsters, and Lawmen: 1839-1939; 200 Texas Outlaws and Lawmen: 1835-1935; Ten Deadly Texans; Old West Swindlers; Arizona Gunfighter; and Outlaws with Badges. Yadon resides in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

About the book: One Murder Too Many

9781455618194 (518x800)In an unusual dual biography, authors Laurence J. Yadon and Robert Barr Smith explore this compelling criminal case from both sides. Tulsa computer tycoon Roger Wheeler was the victim and organized crime boss Whitey Bulger was the criminal—or so it seemed. Through a fascinating examination of information related to both men, the authors break down the façade and expose the underlying truths in this decades-long case.

This riveting true story lays out how the unrelenting efforts of the family of a murdered Oklahoma businessman led to this crime boss’s downfall. Yadon and Smith provide insight into the development of organized crime in American and its stronghold in Boston while following and uncovering all the murky details of this groundbreaking case.



Mvskoke Etvlwv – The Muscogee People

Aug 20th
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Mvskoke Etvlwv – The Muscogee People

Lecture Series: Tuesdays in September, 6:30 pm

Presented by Justin Giles, Director

Muscogee (Creek) Nation Cultural Center & Archives

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Each night will begin with a brief history of Muscogee people, followed by a specific topic:

September 1st – Native American stick and ball games – exploring the relations between the indigenous stick and ball games ranging from southeastern Muscogean stickball to Iroquoian lacrosse.

September 8th – Guest speaker, yet to be determinedMounds

September 15th – Myth of a North American wilderness – exploring the mound cities of the Mississippian Mound Builders throughout the Ohio Valley and the southeast. Muscogee people are direct descendants of these city planners.

September 22nd – Muscogee fine art to pop culture – exploring the contribution of Muscogee artists to the American art scene. From southeastern art motifs, music, contemporary art, to Will Sampson.

September 29th – Muscogee Council House and Museum Collection – exploring the history of the Muscogee Capitol City of Okmulgee, the Historic Council House, and museum collection.


Reader’s Theater: “Bad Seed”

Aug 14th
Posted in Uncategorized

Sun Caste Reader’s Theater Group Present:

The Bad Seed

Saturday, August 29th, 12pm – 2pm

BadseedSynopsis:  Rhoda Penmark is a 10 year old  girl beloved by all. It is only after the “accidental” drowning of a classmate that Rhoda’s mother begins to recall unfortunate events that seemed to always involve Rhoda, with tragic consequences for anyone who crosses her. Is there such a thing as true evil? Is it only a bad environment or bad influences that effect children, or can an individual have inherent tendencies that drive them toward certain evil behavior? Such questions are raised in the play, Bad Seed, a production sure to cause audiences to shudder.


Bus Trip: Little Rock, Arkansas

Jul 30th
Posted in Uncategorized

little rock

Bus Trip: Experience Arkansas’ Capital City

October 22 – 23, 2015

little rock lifeLittle Rock, Arkansas has a big role in history and looks to the future. Learn about Central High School’s place in the civil rights movement, explore the Clinton Presidential center, and relive episodes of rich Southern history at historic sites and museums in a thriving Little Rock New South culture.

Download the full itinerary, which includes prices and registration information, by CLICKING HERE.

The Roots of Muscogee (Creek) Hymns: A Cultural Blending

Jul 13th
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The Roots of Muscogee (Creek) Hymns: A Cultural Blending

Monday, July 27, 7:00 p.m.

foley_250x300Dr. Hugh Foley, music historian and professor, has studied the origins of Creek hymn singing. In his book, “Oklahoma Music Guide,” he writes that the Muscogee hymn tradition is “a model for cultural diffusion influence, adaptation, and re-appropriation, evolving into what very well could be the first American music that embraces the three major cultures of the nascent United States: the Anglo-Scot European, the African, and the American Indian.”

Join us to learn about this fascinating history and hear examples of the music created by the blending of these three cultures.

“Crossroads” by Jo Ratliff

Jun 30th
Posted in Uncategorized

Lecture & Book Signing

Crossroads at Miller Ridge by Jo Ratliff

Saturday, July 18th, 11:00 AM


“Crossroads at Miller Ridge captures the humor and pathos of life as experienced by an Oklahoma family and its neighbors.”

About the book

CrossroadsCover0001 (525x800)Jo Ratliff is her family’s story keeper—the repository of the folklore and facts surrounding her family’s Oklahoma roots. In Crossroads at Miller Ridge she hands down the tales her mother told her of growing up at Miller Ridge, once referred to by one old-timer as the “flower garden” of a region rising out of the bottomlands of the Arkansas River west of Fort Smith, Arkansas.   When Ratliff’s great-grandfather, Arthur William Miller, a proud Confederate veteran headed west, carrying a Winchester rifle, some apple seedlings, a medical book and a wagon load of kids drawn by a team of oxen, the land where he settled still belonged to the Cherokees. Twenty-two years later, when Oklahoma became the 46th state, a gaggle of grandchildren were in attendance at the one-room school house known as Miller Ridge, standing across the road from the Millers’ log home.

Traipsing across the fields over barbed wire fences and tiptoeing through rocky streams, the children of Miller Ridge thrived in a community where the wagon didn’t roll out of the gate without everyone within a three-mile radius knowing where it was headed. Idyllic as it may sound, the community was not without its share of danger and uncertainty. World War I, the 1918 flu epidemic, Prohibition, and the Great Depression disrupted plans and dismantled dreams. All the while the folks at Miller Ridge married, had children, raised crops, built barns, played music and danced to the tunes of their time.

Pulled from a library of recollection that that has long since been closed, woven from the collective history of a region where the stake marking its birthplace remains today, Crossroads at Miller Ridge captures the humor and pathos of life as experienced by an Oklahoma family and its neighbors. More pointedly, it traces the steps of its primary character, Lillian, as she negotiates the hazardous road that leads her from girlhood to womanhood.

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Author: Jo Ratliff

About the author

Jo Ratliff holds a B.A. in American Studies from Oklahoma State University. She is the author of Headed Home: A Collection of Family Recipes and former editor of The Villa Voice, the quarterly newsletter for DaySpring Villa, a domestic violence shelter for women and children.

As a sideline to her quest to capture the life and times of people she holds most dear, she endeavors to keep family members informed about their Oklahoma roots and encourages them to stay connected through a periodic newsletter called The Miller Times. Circulation now stands at 175 family members. Although she was born in Sallisaw, Oklahoma, she has spent most of her life in Tulsa where she resides with her husband, Alan.