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Don't miss Cushing's 2017 Native American Heritage Festival

Andrew W. Griffin / Red Dirt Report
The entrance sign to Cushing, Oklahoma.
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CUSHING, Okla. -- “I would not want to join any country club that would want to have me as a member”, comedian Groucho Marx famously said in response to a written invitation that he had received to become part of an exclusive country club in Beverly Hills.

And I have always had similar misgivings regarding an official luncheon that extended an invitation to me.

So it was with a considerable amount of trepidation that I agreed to attend the luncheon that I had been invited to that will take place at the Steer Inn in Cushing, Oklahoma on Sept. 8th to celebrate the Cushing Native American Heritage Festival that will be held there on the following day, Sept. 9th, from midday until 6 p.m.

The invite that I received advised me that luncheon would include prominent members of the Cushing community as well as Native American leaders from various parts of the state.

Decades ago, I spent a considerable amount of time in Cushing, and I know that the attendees at that event will welcome me despite my plebian manner and extend to me the warmth that residents of that place are known for.

That event, which will be held in downtown Cushing, is sponsored in part by the Downtown Cushing Revitalization Association, and will include a Native American art show as well as artists who will sell their work. Native American dancers will perform as well.

In 1952 , The New Yorker  published an article by staff writer A.J. Liebling that followed a week that he had spent in Chicago, Illinois. The writer lauded that dynamic city for its vibrant culture and diverse ethnic heritage , but he also noted that the fabled “City of Big Shoulders’ was afflicted with what he termed a “Second City Complex’ as a result of its population being second to that of New York City’s at that time.

Chicago, characteristically, unofficially adopted the title of “Second City” in response as a badge of honor, and the theater and comedy troupe that bears that name is still in existence there today.

And it is possible that Cushing suffers from a somewhat similar civic malady despite its title as Oklahoma’s oil pipeline and refining center. It population is smaller than that of neighboring Stillwater, which is the county seat of Payne County, and home to Oklahoma State University and boasts many of the cultural amenities that are found in places that are home to colleges and universities.

But as the attendees at the Cushing Native American event will find out, Cushing is a colorful place with a diverse population that includes a variety of immigrants of the type that are found in flourishing communities throughout the nation.

In the early decades of the last century, Cushing was one of Oklahoma’s premier oil boom towns, and the downtown buildings there reflect some of the exuberance and optimism that were found in those communities in that era.

Many of those structures have been improved in recent years with the assistance of the Downtown Cushing Revitalization Association, and the festival will serve to highlight those improvements. And the attendees will also depart the event with greater understanding of the culture and art of Oklahoma’s Native American population.

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About the Author

Bill O'Brien

Bill O'Brien is an attorney based in Oklahoma City.

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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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