A large group of American Indian people, wearing red armbands suggesting solidarity, gathered to protest telling only one side of Oklahoma history Friday outside the state Capitol.
While crowds converged on Guthrie to commemorate statehood day, the protest ” featuring several speeches, dancing and a drum group ” maintained a notably muted tone. Signs scattered throughout the onlookers bore phrases arguing for “True Indian history in schools,” or stating “You are on native land” and “Land runs + rednecks = Oklahoma.”
Speaker Casey Camp-Horinek, an activist who wore an upside-down flag, said American Indians’ forced relocation to Oklahoma is not being discussed this centennial year.
“The stories are not stories to us,” she said. “They’re our family history “¦ that you won’t hear when they talk about celebrating a land run.”
Children aren’t being taught about the Dawes Act and division of native lands, she said. But more than just not being taught, onlooker Dana Tiger of Park Hill, a Muskogee/Seminole artist, who has a sixth- and eight-grader, said schools often perpetuate harmful ideas about American Indians without even seeming to realize it, citing a sports-related float in a school parade last year that featured an Indian tied to a stake.
“A lot of people thought there was not one thing wrong with that,” she said. “If we go protest, it’s because we want to celebrate who we are “¦ and be viewed as actual human beings with a past and a culture.”
Camp-Horinek challenged the onlookers to carry the solidarity and demand for the telling of the whole story.
“This is one day,” she said. “But then you’re gonna come to Monday. “¦ Demand that your schools tell the truth, “¦ that your Legislature listens to what we need in our own home “¦ that these schools no longer dehumanize.”
Marilyn Vann, an activist on behalf of freedmen of the Five Tribes who watched from the crowd, said statehood was “a very bad day” for black American Indians, too, noting Jim Crow laws that went into effect immediately.
“Everybody suffers here,” she said.
As a “The Latino community supports you” sign waved in the back of the crowd, Camp-Horinek asserted centennial celebrations are ignoring breaking of law.
“They are not telling “¦ that they are the first illegal immigrants to Oklahoma,” she said. “Who’s a savage? I know their religion; I know their history. What do they know about me? Who’s ignorant?” “Emily Jerman