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'Always Home': Martial Arts Teacher Helps Rebuild Pride In Oklahoma Town

Brownie Harjo teaches martial arts in one of the oldest buildings in Holdenville, Okla.
Allison Herrera
Brownie Harjo teaches martial arts in one of the oldest buildings in Holdenville, Okla.

When Donald Trump won the presidential election, he made a pledge to every citizen: that he would be president for all Americans. In the weeks before Trump's inauguration, we're going to hear about some of the communities that make up this nation, from the people who know them best, in our series Finding America.

Holdenville, Okla., is home to about 5,800 people. It has a small downtown with banks, restaurants and a few shops, though some are closed down.

Brownie Harjo runs a martial arts studio, or dojo, in the oldest building in town. It's up a flight of creaky wooden stairs that opens into an area with blue mats, punching bags and other equipment.

Every Thursday night, a group of kids climbs those stairs for taekwondo class with Harjo.

"We're not just here just to punch and kick," Harjo says. "We're here to improve ourselves."

Even though Holdenville has seen better days, Harjo says he believes there's potential in his small town.

"I don't know if Holdenville was ever great, but Holdenville is always home," he says. "The pride has kind of went away lately. There's good people in Holdenville. Some of the best people I've ever met are here, and a lot of them are right here in my dojo."

Use the audio link above to hear the full story.

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