Another Stereotype of the Month entry:
Mon November 5, 2007
Indians plan centennial protest walk
Not everyone plans to celebrate Oklahoma statehood day Nov. 16.
A group of American Indians is planning to protest the celebration with a "survival walk" to the Capitol, to remind everyone what happened to their ancestors and the "real history of Oklahoma Indians and Indian Territory."
Brenda Golden, member of the Muscogee Creek nation and protest organizer, said she could not sit quietly while the only mention or acknowledgement of the victimization of her people was a re-enacted land run and mock wedding ceremony, between Mr. Oklahoman Territory and Miss Indian Territory.
She started organizing members to try to bring awareness to what American Indians lost, with the settlement and statehood of Oklahoma.
Marching under the banner of "Why Celebrate 100 Years of Theft" the protestors will gather at 9 a.m. Nov. 16 at NW 16 and Lincoln, and then walk to the Capitol, she said.
One of the more outspoken members of the protest is Gerald D. Tieya, of the Comanche Nation. He compares asking an American Indian to celebrate the Oklahoma Centennial with asking a Jew to celebrate Kristallnacht, the night of broken glass in 1938 when Jewish homes were ransacked in numerous German and Austrian cities.
"Our part of the story, the part where our lands are invaded and stripped away from us, and the part where our cultures are attacked, the part where our peoples' lives are trampled and forever altered by this encroachment of land hungry invaders is always conveniently neglected or overshadowed," Tieyah said.
For information on the protest, visit myspace.com/mvskoke_lady or contact Brenda Golden by e-mail at email@example.com or by phone at (405) 570-7752.
Why Oklahoma's Indians don't want to celebrate the state centennial:
Don't ask me to celebrate the Oklahoma Land Run and Centennial Celebration
By G. D. Tieyah (Comanche)
Would you ask a Jew to celebrate Kristallnacht? In one horrible night Jewish life, culture and identity came under attack in a series of raids upon Jews by the Nazis. Jewish businesses, houses of worship, homes and lives were shattered in a night of Broken Glass. So again, would you ask a Jew to celebrate Kristallnacht?
Then why would you ask an American Indian to celebrate the Oklahoma Land Run and Centennial of Statehood?
In one moment, with one shot of a cannon the Oklahoma Land Run began in which once again our lands and our sovereignty came under attack by American settlers. Attacks which we continue to endure against our lands. In that one moment, our livelihoods, our places of worship, our homes, and our lives were trampled beneath the mad rush for land in Oklahoma.
For many of us, these Land Run celebrations and this Centennial celebration commemorate a day in which our ways of life were assaulted and our lands were forcibly invaded, despite having been reserved to us by treaties. These treaties were signed in order to safeguard our lands and people and were meant to allow us peace from continued assaults on our communities. But bowing to greed for our lands, the U.S. broke its word and opened up those very lands to a new type of assault: Land Speculation and Settlement. Now, to see these celebrations is to be reminded of the lies, to be reminded of the deaths of our ancestors and our families who fought to keep these invaders from our lands. These celebrations are reminders of what we had and how it was stolen from us.
But each year we are asked to participate in these celebrations.
Is it in order to be historically "accurate" and to offer the Indian side of the story?
Possibly from the view of the celebration organizers that is the intention, at least that is what they tell themselves. But we American Indians are only important to the Oklahoma Land Run and Statehood stories as obstacles that the American settlers can triumph over. We are important to the Land Run and Centennial celebrations only in as much as we can provide unique "color" and "decorations" for these celebrations. Our part of the story, the part where our lands are invaded and stripped away from us, the part where our cultures are attacked, the part where our peoples' lives are trampled and forever altered by this encroachment of land hungry invaders is always conveniently neglected or overshadowed. The Oklahoma Land Run and the push for Statehood rarely takes into account our side of the story and that is shameful because the story is hiding away the inconvenient reality of how the land was obtained and in place of the truth is promoting a lie.
In the end, these Land Run and Centennial celebrations become nothing more than another showcase in which our histories and our cultures are relegated to being backdrops against which the United States can unfold its own "history lesson" of Manifest Destiny and within that showcase, we are merely decorations for the party held in honor of that policy.
G. D. Tieyah, 2002
How Indians choose to commemorate (not celebrate) the centennial:
Sun November 4, 2007
Ceremony to mark tribal perspective
By Keli Clark
For The Oklahoman
As Statehood Day nears, there is a feeling of excitement in anticipation of the largest celebration of our state's first 100 years. Leading up to this special day, numerous fun-filled Oklahoma Centennial events have occurred over the past several months, including parades with marching bands, colorful floats and dignitaries, and home-town festivals with their local entertainment and enticing food aromas that fill the air.
On Nov. 15, the eve of Statehood Day, there will be one ceremony that was especially created to showcase the deep roots of the state's American Indian heritage and to highlight the important role these citizens have played in the rich history of the state.
On that date, many of Oklahoma's Indian tribes will come together for a sunset ceremony on the west-facing steps of the Scottish Rite Masonic Center in Guthrie, Oklahoma's first state capital.
The purpose behind this symbolic ceremony is to close out a chapter of history as the sun sets on the first 100 years, and optimistically move forward to the next century.
This once-in-a-lifetime ceremony was created from a series of meetings and idea-gathering sessions between the Guthrie Centennial Committee and the American Indian Cultural Center.
"The Guthrie committee understood that the centennial could be a very difficult time for native communities," said Shoshana Wasserman, marketing and public relations director for the American Indian Cultural Center. "They really wanted Native American participation in their commemorative events."
The initial meeting resulted in the appointment of an additional 25 community members who were tasked with planning the appropriate level of participation from the American Indian community. The group met monthly for the past year.
"We had some meetings where we all sat around and people would cry, literally, as they would tell their own personal accounts of their family history. The Guthrie committee began to understand the breadth of how significant this time is for native communities and why the native people had such a different perspective on statehood. It became a wonderful two-way communication and learning experience," Wasserman said.
The Nov. 15 ember 15th, event will begin with an informal gathering, or Calling of the Tribes, at 3 p.m. The calling songs sung by various tribes are meant to bring everyone together, including all non-American Indians in attendance.
At 4 p.m., the actual ceremony begins. Legislative members who will be present for the special session at the center that day will be seated and welcomed. A flag song in the native language will honor all tribal flags along with the Oklahoma and American flags.
Immediately following the flag song, a Cedar Blessing Ceremony will take place. Before this event begins, officials will ask that any video or still cameras or audio gathering materials be turned off, since it is a traditional ceremony.
"This is a way that tribes speak to the Creator, and this will offer prayers for those that perished on the route coming to Oklahoma," Wasserman said. "Most of the tribes that are here today are not indigenous to Oklahoma. They had a homeland somewhere else, and they all have a story of journey."
She said, "These prayers are offered in memory of a past of those that endured hardships so people today could have their rightful place in society. But this is also a prayer to bring all people together as Oklahomans to come together in a cooperative spirit."
After the blessing ceremony, the Chata Ulla Choctaw Children's choir will sing. Then remarks will be made by three generations that will offer different perspectives of their lives as American Indians. They are Mary Lou Davis, an elder from the Caddo tribe, Russell Tallchief, a member of the Osage Nation, and Ayla Medrano, a Kiowa-Comanche-Muscogee (Creek) youth. Tribal leaders will offer remarks, and Otoe-Missouria War Mothers will be honored, followed by a memorial song and a moment of silence.
As the sun sets about 5:20 p.m., guests will be asked to stand up and face the west to bear witness to the setting of the sun, paying homage to the past 100 years with the anticipation of the next 100 years.
As this happens, flutes will be played in unison by Terry Tsotigh, a Kiowa tribal elder, and Me-way-seh Greenwood, an Otoe Missouria-Ponca and Chickasaw youth.
The closing prayer will be offered in native language by the Rev. Eddie Lindsey, who is Seminole and Muscogee (Creek). After the prayer, guests will be dismissed.
In addition to the sunset ceremony, the American Indian communities will be present at the centennial parade to be held at noon Nov. 16 in Guthrie. Some participants include tribal color guards, Cheyenne and Arapaho peace chiefs, tribal royalty, elders and dignitaries, and the Kiowa Indigenous Horsemen.
"These events impact the state in a beautiful way and really give Oklahoma a story to tell that is a story that cannot be told by any other state in the United States," Wasserman said.
Keli Clark is marketing assistant for Oklahoma Parks, Resorts and Golf.
It's stereotypical to think every American (including American Indians) should be happy to celebrate our history. As the articles note, Indians have little reason to celebrate.
But the biggest problem is how Oklahomans are celebrating their centennial: with "a re-enacted land run and mock wedding ceremony, between Mr. Oklahoman Territory and Miss Indian Territory." These things imply that there was no controversy or conflict in the settlement of Oklahoma.
In fact, the wedding metaphor implies Indians willingly joined the new state as equal partners. It would be more accurate to show Mr. Oklahoman Territory raping Miss Indian Territory and then holding her captive as an abused and degraded serving girl.
. . .
All material © copyright its original owners, except where noted.
Original text and pictures © copyright 2007 by Robert Schmidt.
Copyrighted material is posted under the Fair Use provision of the Copyright Act,
which allows copying for nonprofit educational uses including criticism and commentary.
Comments sent to the publisher become the property of Blue Corn Comics
and may be used in other postings without permission.