The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

July 14, 2013

A shared interest

By Jessica Salmond, Staff Writer
Enid News & Eagle

ENID, Okla. — Lahoma McMillion’s journey began when she found Lahoma, Okla., on a trucking trip in 2008.

She had never seen her name on anything before. She had only heard of two other women that shared her name. McMillion took photos and met people in the community. She stayed connected with the town bearing her name, even after she returned home.

Then, another Lahoma on Facebook contacted her. The two decided to try and connect with all the Lahomas they could find. Eventually, a Facebook group was formed. Over 300 women with the name are spread across the country.

Now, the Lahomas will gather together Saturday in the only town in the U.S. that shares their name: Lahoma, Okla. The town has become involved and expanded the event to include the whole community, dubbing it “LahomaPalooza.”

“They’re coming from all over,” Theresa Sharp, mayor of Lahoma, said.

These women with the same first name have been planning this journey to their namesake town for two years, Sharp said. About 40 so far have confirmed that they are coming to Lahoma on Saturday.

The Lahomas picked the summer of 2013 to gather because it marks the 100th anniversary of a book published titled “Lahoma,” by John Breckenridge Ellis. Saturday also is the five-year anniversary of McMillion’s first visit to Lahoma.

Due to their unusual name, McMillion said the majority of them were “teased mercilessly.” One of the common questions in their Facebook group is, “What’s the worst thing you’ve been called?” Most of these women had never met another with her name.

“We are not alone in the world. We have a community now,” McMillion said. “We now have a place to belong.”

They have made Lahoma their headquarters, and “the town has really embraced it,” McMillion said.

Originally, the group had planned on simply coming to the town and meeting up, Sharp said. The town, however, expanded the gathering by adding a parade, games, fireworks and dinner at the park. McMillion will be raffling off one of her original copies of “Lahoma” and giving another to the town.

“It’s turned into something much larger,” Sharp said. “I hope when they walk away, they make away with a touch of Oklahoma.”

McMillion said her name is in her family. A missionary married a Seminole woman called Lahoma when the tribe was migrating to the Florida reservation. She died during childbirth and the husband named their daughter Lahoma. Since then, every first-born girl in McMillion’s family received the historical name.

She has researched the name, and it has several different meanings throughout American Indian tribes: “red child” in Choctaw, “center of the home” in Blackfoot, “little wing of an eagle” in Creek and “princess” in Seminole.

“Our name is a namesake. It’s been passed down to us and we’re passing it down to others,” McMillion said.