Who is Ataloa?
Whether she is known as Mary Stone McClendon or Ataloa (Little Song in the Chickasaw language), this talented person is appreciated for the efforts she made on the behalf of others.
She was born on the prairie of the Chickasaw Nation in 1895 near present-day Duncan, OK. Her family was one of prominence within the Chickasaw Nation.
Most of her early schooling was in a one-room schoolhouse in the Kiamichi Mountains; later schooling included the Oklahoma College for Woman, University of Redlands, Columbia University and the International Institute of John D. Rockefeller in New York City. Of the seventy-two nationalities represented at the institute, she was the only American Indian attending.
Even though her greatest concern was for the American Indian, she spent one summer as a social worker in an Italian settlement in New York City. She also established several scholarships and worked through several organizations for better international understanding during the years of World War II.
Ataloa traveled extensively, using her abilities to inspire American Indian students to greater effort. She also worked as a fundraiser, influencing people to donate financial aid for students and to Bacone College.
During the years 1927-1935, she taught English and Philosophy at Bacone College. At the time Bacone was the only American Indian College in the country.
She was also a Field Secretary for Bacone College and collected quality art and items of material culture for her dream of an American Indian Museum on the campus of Bacone College.
Her dream became a reality with the dedication of this art lodge on December 2, 1932. After her death in 1967, the Art Lodge was renamed The Ataloa Art Lodge in her honor, and then later renamed the Ataloa Lodge Museum.
Mary Stone McClendon had known the satisfaction of encouraging American Indian artists to greater achievements in the future and establishing a showcase for the finest items of American Indian culture