Matthews, Salina Jackson

By – Grandson, H. Roman Matthews

This article is written and dedicated to the memory of Salina Jackson-Matthews, born on December 25, 1897 in Meridian, MS. She was a beautiful baby.

Salina, my great uncle McElroy, great aunt Winnie, her mother Sadie Jackson and father Tecumseh were among the final group of Choctaws relocated from Mississippi to Indian Territory via the Treaty of the Dancing Rabbit Creek, under the Indian Removal Act.

In 1903 her family was removed from what is now the state of Mississippi to Indian Territory, now the state of Oklahoma. They settled in Choctaw county and began their new lives in a “dugout”.  I recall playing in the “dugout” as a youngster.  It seemed so small to me, for an entire family to live. While on the Trail of Tears”, Salina Jackson, age six years, contracted food poison and almost succumbed to the disease. She was a very strong little girl.

Time goes by and Salina meets and marries Argyle Perry Matthews of Abilene, TX in 1916. Their first son, Stanley was born in 1919, the same time of year that Salina’s mother died giving birth to Oscar Jackson. Since these children were born approximately the same time, Salina nursed and raised Oscar, practically as twins. Oscar new my grandmother as his mother and treated her thusly throughout their lives. Salina and A.P. had five other children; Stanley, Marvin, Irene, Argyle, Jr. and Lorene, {my natural mother}, all of whom became highly regarded professionals. She was a Christian woman who loved everyone equally.

After many years of; raising children, working the fields, spreading love throughout and teaching the ways of the Choctaw people, the land that they lived on eventually become part of the “Dust Bowl.” The Dust Bowl intensified the crushing economic impacts of the Great Depression and drove many farming families to relocate to places like California, where I was born in 1957. She also raised and/or adopted six others; Yvonne, Elizabeth, Herbert, Hector, Neil and Frank. Her love was strong and unconditional. She cared very deeply for everyone.

In 1963, the family relocated back to Choctaw County, Oklahoma, where she raised the four aforementioned boys. She nurtured the next generation with love and affection that comes from the heart. She taught us the ways of the Native American; to respect and nurture the earth, to listen to birds sing, to use sassafras root for tea, made soap from lye and animal fat, to  cherish life and to love all people. She sang to us “Silent Night”, each Christmas, in perfect harmony.

I remember my grandmother, at 72, crawling up, not risking falling backwards, the stairs (when I was sick) to put vapor rub onto my chest with hands that were so contorted and pain filled by rheumatoid arthritis. Salina Jackson-Matthews passed away on, May 23, 1995, at age 98.

Please remember Salina Jackson-Matthews and those like her who made tremendous sacrifices for the sake of our people. Allow the legacy of our ancestors continue. Yakoke!