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The Village city council to hear Indigenous Peoples' Day proposal Monday night

Alicia Fraire / Red Dirt Report
The Village, Oklahoma's municipal building at 2304 Manchester Drive.
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THE VILLAGE, Okla. – Red Dirt Report has learned that Sarah Adams-Cornell, a spokeswoman for Live Indigenous OK, has been invited to speak before The Village City Council on Monday night to encourage the mayor and four council members to acknowledge Indigenous Peoples’ Day.

Adams-Cornell, an Oklahoma City-based human rights activist and a member of the Choctaw Nation, has fought hard to get the City of Oklahoma City to replace the divisive Columbus Day holiday, which is recognized at the federal level, to be recognized as Indigenous Peoples’ Day.

Live Indigenous OK activist Sarah Adams-Cornell. (Andrew W. Griffin / Red Dirt Report)

However, a majority of the Oklahoma City council members and Mayor Mick Cornett have opted to embrace the status quo, voting against a day that would recognize indigenous people in a manner that highlights their many contributions to both Oklahoma City and to the state and the nation. This, despite Indigenous Peoples’ Day victories in Anadarko, Norman, the University of Oklahoma and elsewhere in the state and across America.

In the meantime, Adams-Cornell has found an ally in The Village’s Ward 4 council member Cathy Cummings, a vocal and visible progressive who ran for lieutenant governor of Oklahoma in 2014, but lost to Republican Todd Lamb.

Cummings said that she talked to Adams-Cornell and others about Indigenous Peoples’ Day and what it means and how efforts to get IPD recognized in Oklahoma City have been thwarted. The more she learned, the more she wanted “The Village to be the next in line to do it.”

Added Cummings: “I think indigenous people should be recognized.”

Red Dirt Report reached out to Adams-Cornell for comment, but she could not be reached by the time the article was published.

Cummings is an Italian-American and is well-aware of how that community has embraced the day recognizing Christopher Columbus and his “discovery of America” in the 15th century.

But Columbus’s true nature and history is a lot darker than simply sailing “the ocean blue” in 1492.

“Christopher Columbus was a horrible person,” Cummings said. “Growing up, I didn’t know what he had really done … he was a slave owner, a rapist and murderer.” And this 2015 report, at Indian Country Today, and reposted today, asks the question: "Did the deaths of 50 million Indians Cause Climate Change?

Cathy Cummings is now the Ward 4 council member in The Village. (Andrew W. Griffin / Red Dirt Report)

That said, Cummings said she is not interested in erasing or rewriting history, but simply adding indigenous people – people who were on these lands millennia before Europeans arrived – to the conversation, while providing balance.

Already, Cummings has sent out an informative email to Mayor Dave Bennett and the three other council members, simply letting them know that an Indigenous Peoples’ Day speaker was coming to Monday night’s meeting at the City Hall at 2304 Manchester Drive.

“My goal is to make a motion to vote on it at the next council meeting on Monday, Oct. 2,” she said, noting that for a proclamation to pass, three of the five council members must approve it. 

If that happens, the following Monday - Oct. 9 - is Columbus Day, which would be recognized by The Village as Indigenous Peoples' Day.

“I thought it was such a great idea to have The Village adopt it,” Cummings told Red Dirt Report. “I wanted to promote all communities and open our doors to everyone, not just in The Village, but to Oklahoma City as well.”

Cummings continued, saying that Oklahoma City and others may see The Village's inclusive example and realize that the time has come for the state's largest city and capital city to officially proclaim the second Monday in October as Indigenous Peoples' Day.

"(Indigenous Peoples' Day) is gaining traction," Cummings said. "Hundreds of cities have already done it." 

And now, The Village appears to be next on the list, if the vote goes the way Cummings suspects it will.

Cummings said that the IPD proposal will most likely be discussed in the opening portion of the council meeting, which begins at 7:30 p.m., when people's business is usually addressed.

Red Dirt Report will be on hand to cover the meeting. 

STATS:

According to the 2010 census, of The Village’s total population of 8,929, 3.1 percent (276 residents) are listed as “American Indian.” 

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Andrew W. Griffin received his Bachelor of Science in Journalism from...

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About Red Dirt Report

Red Dirt Report was launched July 4, 2007 as an independent news website covering all manner of news, culture, entertainment and lifestyle stories that affect and interest Oklahoma readers and readers outside of our state. Our mission is to educate, promote civic engagement and discourse on public policy, government and politics. Our experienced journalists provided balanced in-depth coverage of news stories that affect Oklahomans. Our opinion/editorial stories come from a wide range of political view points. We carry out our mission by reporting, writing, and posting news and information. read more

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