Tulsans of all ages ate local food, listened to speakers and learned from the different cultures that live in the area.
On Monday, Oct. 14, cities throughout Oklahoma observed Native American Day, and Tulsa’s celebrations exceeded expectations. Tulsa officially adopted Native American Day as a holiday in 2017, and this year marked the third annual celebration.
Speakers, dancers, artists and more represented their respective tribes at Guthrie Green on Monday. Mayor G. T. Bynum spoke, as well as leaders from multiple tribes, including the Muscogee Creek Nation, the Cherokee Nation, the Osage Nation, the Kaw Nation and the Pawnee Nation, all discussing what this day means to them.
Students from all around Tulsa and of all ages were present, either through field trips or with friends and family. The speakers at this event made sure to impart to these students how important this event is to Oklahoma’s history. By choosing to celebrate Native American heritage during this holiday, the United States is now respecting these tribes’ cultures rather than ignoring or attempting to eliminate them.
The parade began at noon and featured groups representing the many unique tribes of Oklahoma. The Pride of Sequoyah marching band was one highlight of this parade, bringing energy and liveliness to the event.
Vendors sold food throughout the day, one truck featuring Indian tacos on fry bread and Indian nachos. All sorts of refreshments were offered at the event, as well as Guthrie Green being surrounded by great restaurants on all sides.
Native American Day, as it is observed in Tulsa, has begun to replace what had previously been Columbus Day in cities all over the United States. In cities that still uphold Columbus Day or have active commemorations of him such as statues, there has been retaliation.
Columbus Day, which celebrates Christopher Columbus’s date of arrival into the new world, has faced ongoing criticism in recent years. The holiday has been criticized for uplifting a man who caused the deaths and severe mistreatment of thousands of Native Americans. As time progresses, people all over the United States are beginning to intentionally acknowledge this idea and choose to create instead a holiday that celebrates Native American history and culture.
Also known as Indigenous Peoples’ Day in many areas, Native American Day aims to celebrate culture and educate the public on Native American contributions, specifically to the tribes that originated in the city or state that the celebration takes place in. This regionality makes the event special to attendees in their respective cities, and the holiday hits close to home for many who choose to observe it.
Tulsa’s celebration was informative for many onlookers, as there are many groups and resources for Native Americans all over the city that many do not know about. These include the Native American Student Association and the Tulsa Native Youth Board. The ability to see these groups and their ongoing contributions to the city was uplifting to many that were present at this year’s event.
Native American Day in Tulsa is still a very young event, and its growth each year continues to inspire the Native American community all around the city. It is important for communities to celebrate this event and recognize the contributions of the many native peoples that helped the state of Oklahoma become what it is today.