Cherokees show strong presence at Tulsa women’s march
Cherokee Nation citizens Rodslen Brown, left, and Deborah Fritts stand together on Jan. 20 during the Women’s March of Tulsa. ROGER GRAHAM/CHEROKEE PHOENIX
TULSA – The Women’s March of Tulsa on Jan. 20 began slowly, filling the Guthrie Green area with a diverse crowd, but by noon the sporadic cheers and chants became a roar of enthusiasm.
The march was an anniversary event that commemorates the Women’s March of 2017 in Washington, D.C. Among the thousands of attendees, Native American women and girls, including Cherokees, were strongly represented.
Cherokee Nation citizen and social justice advocate Deborah Fritts said she was “thrilled” with the turnout and that the crowd was dotted with tear dresses and other Native American imagery and regalia.
“I came here to march with Moms Demand Action for Common Sense Gun Laws, but this is all about being a part of a grand sisterhood, including my Indigenous sisters. Last year we marched, but this year we want to be more than that,” Fritts said.
According to reports from the all-women planning committee, some organizations ran out of volunteer applications, and more than 200 new voters were registered at the event.
Also, several men marched with the thousands of women with many wearing T-shirts or signs hanging around their necks reading “I’m with her” with arrows pointing toward the women they came to support.
Many women came with organizations, family and friends to rally for positive change and promote healthy discussions on issues such as women’s rights and human rights. Signs as plentiful as people were worn or held up to support environmental protection, Planned Parenthood, comprehensive health care and reproductive justice.
During a rally before the march, speakers and entertainers of all ages, races, religions, sexual orientations and gender identities made their ways to the podium to share direct peaceful messages on affirmative change and unity.
“We march for our Indigenous sisters. We march for those who feel they no longer have a voice, for our younger generation, for our elders, for our missing and murdered Indigenous women,” Brittany Hill, an Ihanktonwan Dakota (Sioux) and Muscogee (Creek) marcher, said. “This is why we march, because a woman armed with ancestral wisdom is an unstoppable force.”
The Tulsa Women’s March was followed by a march down the streets of the Tulsa Arts District. It ended at the Living Arts Center of Tulsa, west of the Guthrie Green.
Inside the center, approximately two dozen nonprofits and grassroots organizations held an indoor fair where merchandise such as T-shirts, caps and bumper stickers were available for purchase. The fair also gave participants the chance to learn about the organizations.
CN citizen Violet Rush, vice president of a Native American Law Student association at Tulsa University, said her reasoning for attending the rally and march revolved around crimes related to Indigenous women.
“Today I am marching with the Matriarch Chapter in Tulsa in memory of all the murdered and missing Indigenous women. My great-grandmother Thelma Mounts was a Cherokee woman, and she was murdered by her white husband, so this is a very personal issue for me,” Rush said.
For more information, visit www.WomensMarch.com