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Indigenous Peoples' Day celebrations planned despite City Council's rejection of holiday

E.I. Hillin
Supporters of the proposed holiday listened as city leaders rejected an attempt to celebrate Indigenous Peoples Day on the second Monday in October.
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OKLAHOMA CITY – After a proposed resolution to officially make the second Tuesday of October Indigenous Peoples' Day suffered two consecutive rejections from the Oklahoma City Council, supporters have decided to celebrate anyway.

“We are going to take it to City Hall and show them how it’s done, with or without them,” said event organizer Brenda Golden.

Peaceful picketing is planned near City Hall, followed by a march from Bicentennial Park to City Hall at 11 a.m. An Indigenous Peoples' Day celebration is planned to run until 4:00 p.m. at City Hall. 

The celebration will include dancers, drums and musicians. Performances will include Quese IMC of Culture Shock Camp, Sydne Gray of Indigenize OU and Little Miss Indian OKC, Isabella Fridia. Traditional Chahta (Choctaw) dance and Inter-tribal social dances will be open to the public.

In Oklahoma, Tulsa, Norman, Lawton, Tahlequah and Anadarko have officially made the change to Indigenous Peoples' Day. On a national level, Austin, Texas, Seattle, Wash., Denver, Colo., and Los Angeles, Calif. have all made the switch. 

Golden and her group, Indian Territory Revival, work to make events in Oklahoma correctly reflect their history.

“My group focuses on Oklahoma history being told correctly,” Golden said.

After protesting since 2008, the group helped end Norman’s 89er Day Parade this year.

Golden said the fact that Oklahoma City is the only major city in Oklahoma that has rejected the proposition to re-name the second Monday in October to Indigenous Peoples' Day speaks volumes about where they stand in recognizing Native Americans value to their city and state.

“It’s a slap in our face,” she said. “We need to make a statement.”

Those who opposed the resolution, replacing Columbus Day with Indigenous People's Day, presented last year to the council included Mayor Mick Cornett, James Greiner (Ward 1), Larry McAtee (Ward 3), David Greenwell (Ward 5), Meg Salyer (Ward 6), and Mark Stonecipher (Ward 8).

Members of the city council are expected to be attending work on Monday. While Columbus Day is a federal holiday it is not recognized as a state holiday.

The University of Oklahoma will host a full day IPD celebration beginning at 10 a.m. on the South Oval on campus. For more information on the events, visit the Indigenous Peoples’ Day OKC Facebook page.

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E.I. Hillin

Elizabeth Ivy Hillin, 30, grew up in Lindsay, Okla., where the dirt is definitely red. Hillin...

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