Chanting “no justice, no peace,” American Indians and their supporters marked the state’s centennial Friday with a march on the state Capitol to denounce the events that led to Oklahoma’s statehood.
Descendants of famous Oklahomans donned period costumes to lead the celebration in Guthrie, the state’s first capital, while in Oklahoma City, about 500 tribal members recalled the experience of ancestors who were forced from their traditional lands and marched to what became Oklahoma.
“We were here before statehood. We were here first,” said Brenda Golden, a member of the Muscogee (Creek) tribe and one of the march’s organizers.
“We’re not going to do-si-do with the white man today,” said Dwain Camp, a member of the Ponca tribe. “We’re going to do this as long as they celebrate taking our land.”
Oklahoma, which means “land of the red people” in the Choctaw language, became the nation’s 46th state on Nov. 16, 1907, after unassigned lands set aside for Indian tribes were carved up for settlement in land runs that began in 1889.
The state’s centennial was celebrated Friday with music, parades and other events in Guthrie. Gov. Brad Henry declared it a state holiday, giving thousands of workers and students the day off.
Thousands of people streamed into Guthrie for the festivities, which included a re-enactment of a ceremonial wedding between Miss Indian Territory and Mr. Oklahoma Territory.
Back at the Capitol, Indian marchers carrying a banner that read “Why Celebrate 100 Years of Theft” said they are struggling to preserve their heritage.
Author: History doesn't tell full story
John Momaday, a member of the Kiowa tribe and nephew of N. Scott Momaday, the state’s centennial poet and a Pulitzer Prize-winning writer, said history books do not teach children about the injustices suffered by Indians following statehood.
“They need to know the truth about what went on,” he said.
Oklahoma is home to 39 Indian tribes. In 2005, about 290,000 Oklahomans, 8.1 percent of the population, identified themselves as American Indian. As of 2006, American Indians and Alaska Natives made up 1.5 percent of the American population, according to the Census Bureau.