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NOT IF BUT WHEN: Indigenous Peoples' Day will come to OKC - it's only a matter of time

Andrew W. Griffin / Red Dirt Report
Live Indigenous OK's Sarah Adams-Cornell appears before the OKC City Council in 2016 advocating for Indigenous Peoples' Day.
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OKLAHOMA CITY – It was very encouraging to learn this week that the City of Norman’s City Council unanimously voted to replace Columbus Day – observed on the second Monday in October – with Indigenous Peoples’ Day.

The Native American organization, Live Indigenous OK, has spent the past several years trying to get Indigenous Peoples’ Day approved by the City Council of Oklahoma City, only to be denied again and again, led by outgoing Mayor Mick Cornett.

Red Dirt Report has been strongly advocating for Indigenous Peoples’ Day in Oklahoma City since at least 2014 and the rest of the OKC media has been largely silent on the issue, afraid to upset their advertisers? Or maybe they have other reasons?

In any event, it is difficult to accept that the city council representing the state’s largest city and its state capital – in a state with one of the largest Native American populations in the country, cannot muster the courage to embrace Indigenous Peoples’ Day and ditch Columbus Day once and for all.

We learned that they will not push for IPD in 2017, rather, waiting until 2018 to reintroduce the issue, if need be.

Every time we would cover the council encounters between the council and indigenous activists and their allies, Mayor Cornett would be practically gritting his teeth, appearing as if he would rather be anywhere but there at that moment. Why Cornett could not do the brave thing, the right thing, remains a mystery.

But then again, he is on his way out and new blood – possibly “golden boy” David Holt will be elected Oklahoma City’s next mayor. But would a Mayor Holt stand behind our city and state’s Native American community and, at the same time, send a message that the myth of Christopher Columbus needs to be tossed into the ashbin of history? I certainly hope he would. I hope all the mayoral and council candidates do the right thing and look to Norman and Anadarko as examples of doing the right thing for our city's Native population, while setting the record straight.

As Live Indigenous OK activist Sarah Adams-Cornell told Red Dirt Report’s Louis Fowler this week, following the developments in Norman: “We have an obligation, as a community to right wrongs when we can. This is one simple way to do that and make our state stronger and more inclusive.”

We could not agree more.

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About the Author

Andrew W. Griffin

Editor & Owner.

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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