By Joshua Rogers, Native News Network
ADA, OKLAHOMA – “We’re paranormal enthusiasts.”
Mark Williams, is founder of the Native American Paranormal Project (NAPP). He describes his group of part-time explorers as “enthusiasts” as opposed to the professional paranormal investigators portrayed on such hit shows as “Ghost Hunters” and “Ghost Adventures.”
What also sets the NAPP apart is that all the members are Native American and that the group specializes in investigating Native American landmarks rumored to be haunted.
How it all began
Mr. Williams said that he has a lifelong interest in the supernatural and is a fan of television shows like “Ghost Hunters.” One night after viewing the program, he was inspired.
He posed the following question to a friend: “How cool would it be to see Native Americans on that screen?”
NAPP was started in the fall of 2011. Since then, the group has grown to nine team members who seek out paranormal phenomena in Indian country. The group films its investigations and turns the footage into documentaries shown to audiences during film screenings.
Interest in the NAPP’s explorations has quickly grown with more than 11,000 “likes” for the group’s Facebook page.
One NAPP member is Steve Jacob, a staff member with Chickasaw Nation Arts and Humanities. Mr. Jacob and Mr. Williams met a couple of years ago at the McSwain Theatre after a screening of one of the movies in the Chickasaw Nation’s Holba Kanali Native American film series.
Their conversation revealed that both shared an interest in the supernatural and the unknown. Mr. Jacob decided to join the NAPP shortly after their meeting.
“It’s kind of like a hobby. It’s a scary hobby at times but it’s a good hobby,”
Mr. Jacob said.
Mr. Jacob’s wife, D.D. Jacob, a Chickasaw, is also an NAPP member. She decided to tag along during the group’s investigation of the Concho Indian Boarding School. Dubbed the group’s “resident skeptic,” Mrs. Jacob said she only went that first time to help her husband with the drive back from Concho.
However, based on what she has witnessed during the NAPP’s past investigations, Mrs. Jacob admitted she has become more open to the possibility the group has witnessed paranormal phenomena. She is now a permanent member of the group.
So far, the group has investigated various Native American sites in Oklahoma including the Concho Indian Boarding School in Concho, the Wheelock Academy in Millerton and Fort Washita near Durant.
Group members scout out possible sites to explore via the Internet and from word-of-mouth. Then, they approach and get permission from the appropriate tribal officials to explore the selected location.
Once at the site, members are assigned an area to record. The group doesn’t use any specialized recording equipment. All of their equipment is consumer-grade audio and video electronics.
Mr. Jacob said the group approached each site respectfully and was careful not to disturb the surroundings or any ghostly inhabitants.
At first, Mr. Williams was concerned there may be fellow Native Americans, particularly tribal elders, who might object to investigating tribal landmarks. However, the feedback the group has received after film screenings has been mostly positive.
“What’s funny is that some of our biggest supporters are the elders,”
Mr. Williams said.
Mr. Williams believes the investigative approach has been the key to success.