Tribal people gather to celebrate their day in Tulsa and Tahlequah
TULSA – The Guthrie Green public area in north Tulsa was full of Native people from numerous tribes on Oct. 8 as people came to celebrate Native American Day in the city of Tulsa.
This was the 2nd annual Native American Day in Tulsa that was celebrated in the Brady District. The day's events included a parade, artists, exhibits and dancing. Tulsa Mayor GT Bynum and City of Tulsa government officials joined tribal leaders from various tribes to celebrate the day.
Principal Chief Bill John Baker said the Cherokee Nation brought staff to set up “several booths” at the event to share information and register people to vote, and staff took part in the parade.
“I think telling the true history of America and where it started, that it started with Native Americans, and we really didn’t need to be discovered is an important message,” Baker said.
Cherokee Nation citizen and employee, Kamisha Hair Daniels, said she traveled to Tulsa to celebrate with fellow employees and other tribal people.
“We’re at the Guthrie Green, and we’re going to have tons of fun today,” she said. “I’m here to support my tribe, the Cherokee Nation, and to remember what our ancestors went through to get us here. I’m excited to be here. I’m just excited for the day, ready to see Chief Baker. He’s the parade marshal.”
Native American Day participant Faith Harjo of Tulsa, who is Pawnee, Muscogee (Creek), Choctaw and Cheyenne, said she came to the event as part of the Greater Tulsa Indian Affairs Commission. She serves as commissioner for the organization.
“I’m here to celebrate our Indigenous heritage for Native American Day and also for Indigenous People’s Day,” she said.
She added the GTIAC helps organize cultural events to showcase tribes’ cultural heritage for the city of Tulsa.
“So, this was a big deal to be able to have this special event to celebrate Native American Day, and also just for the city of Tulsa because the city of Tulsa has so many diverse tribes that are a part of it, so we were able to all come together and just celebrate as one.”
Later in the day, in Tahlequah, the Indigenous Peoples Alliance of Oklahoma hosted “Indigenous Peoples Day.” Chief Baker joined Northeastern State University President Dr. Steve Turner, Tahlequah Mayor Jason Nichols and United Keetoowah Band Chief Joe Bunch for activities.
“I’m here at Indigenous People’s Day in Tahlequah because I thinks it’s a great opportunity for us to come together as a community and to learn about Indigenous people. My shirt says it all, ‘Native Americans Discovered Columbus,’ and I think that should be shouted from all of the rooftops around,” said Muscogee (Creek) citizen Rita Courtwright. “I’m glad to see such a great turnout here in Tahlequah on this beautiful day in Cherokee County, Oklahoma.”
UKB citizen Susan Bigpond attended the event in Tahlequah to “represent her ancestors and all they have done in the past.”
“I grew up our here in Adair County and went to Sequoyah High School. I have many friends who are different tribes whether they be Cherokee, Keetoowah, Osage, Pawnee, Kickapoo, Seminole. I learned that even though we’re all different tribes…we are all Indigenous people,” Bigpond said.
Cherokee stickball was played at NSU’s Beta Field at 4 p.m. followed by an Indigenous Peoples Walk from Beta Field to the Cherokee Capital Square. At 6:30 p.m., a welcome ceremony and meal took place at the Cherokee National Peace Pavilion behind the Cherokee Capital Square.
“It’s important to have these kind of events because it brings solidarity between Native American tribes, all tribes. This isn’t just a Cherokee Day, this is for Native Americans, and it’s important to let people know we are still here as people,” said Cherokee Nation citizen Mandy Adair who attended the event in Tahlequah.