Trail of Tears mural unveiled in Durant - KTEN.com - No One Gets You Closer

Trail of Tears mural unveiled in Durant

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A detail from Robert Rawls' Trail of Tears mural in Durant. (KTEN) A detail from Robert Rawls' Trail of Tears mural in Durant. (KTEN)
"I see this big blank space and I want to cover it up with stuff," artist Robert Rawls said. (KTEN) "I see this big blank space and I want to cover it up with stuff," artist Robert Rawls said. (KTEN)
Artist Robert Rawls hopes his Trail of Tears mural will serve as an inspiration for young people. (KTEN) Artist Robert Rawls hopes his Trail of Tears mural will serve as an inspiration for young people. (KTEN)
In another mural at the Durant Boys & Girls Club, artist Robert Rawls depicted superheroes. (KTEN) In another mural at the Durant Boys & Girls Club, artist Robert Rawls depicted superheroes. (KTEN)

DURANT, Okla. -- Art can be powerful. More than just being beautiful, it can serve as a reminder of rich history.

Robert Rawls said he considers a mural he just finished at the entrance of the Durant Boys & Girls Club to be his finest achievement.

"I see this big blank space and I want to cover it up with stuff," he said.

The mural depicts Choctaw Indians walking the Trail of Tears, the tribe's forced relocation from their original home in the Southeast.

"It's great to have all that support out there, because I'm not a Choctaw aficionado... I'm a circus guy," the 68-year-old artist said.

Rawls' early life was spent with the Kelly Miller Circus, painting its large wagons and also performing as a tightrope walker. Now he chooses to give back through a different type of art.

"I want the kids to look at these walls and get some joy out of it... put a little color in their lives," he said.

Rawls said the Trail of Tears mural took more than two months to paint, a process that has had executive director Larry Long eager to see the final product.

"I get it [the club] open about 7:45 in the morning, and he's usually here a couple minutes after that and works and works and works," Long said. "He's definitely helping make a difference in these kids' lives."

The mural is a tribute to Choctaw history that is also a large part of the club's history as well, being one of the few designated Native American Boys & Girls Clubs in the county. 

"Over half of the kids at our clubs are Choctaw or native children, so anything we can do to for kids to understand their native heritage is important to me," Long said.

More than a mural, Robert Rawls' artwork is a reminder of Durant's roots, and a timeless mark of love for generations to come.

"Of course when you finish it, you can look back and say, 'I'm proud of that,' and it means something to the kids... it means something long after I'm gone," the artist said.

Rawls added that there are plenty of blank walls left at the club in Durant as well as its sister club in Hugo, and he hopes to fill all of them with color.

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