Monday, November 19, 2007

Centennial Sunset Ceremony

SUNSET CEREMONYCentennial Spectacular
State Art CollectionDevon River Parade

SUNSET CEREMONY. Not surprisingly, not all Oklahomans have relished in Oklahoma's Centennial experience — Native Americans whose lands were dispossessed by the White Man's Intrusion into the land originally inhabited by the Wichita and Caddo Indians before the United States government forcibly removed many other tribes into Oklahoma Territory from all over the United States, and, after that, by the opening of Indian Territory to land runs for white settlement — their successors would reasonably have less cause for celebration.

Some Native Americans registered their views in a protest at the State Capitol in Oklahoma City. According to an Associated Press article reported at MSNBC,
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.”
Be that as it may, on the eve of statehood, November 15, a Sunset Ceremony was held on the steps of the venerable Scottish Rite Temple in Guthrie. Earlier in the day, a train, the “Centennial Express,” transported legislators from downtown Oklahoma City to downtown Guthrie to participate in the day's events.

Gena Howard, master of ceremonies for the event and the executive director of the Native American Cultural and Education Authority (which is constructing the American Indian Cultural Center in Oklahoma City), is quoted in a November 16 Tulsa World article as saying,
"What was once a collision of cultures in a new land has today become a collaboration." The ceremony was intended to "honor the past, those who have perished, and those who have paved the way and are not forgotten."
The event included several Native American speakers who addressed the crowd which included many members of the Oklahoma Legislature and the state's Lieutenant Governor, Jari Askins, and, of course, white man Doug Dawg who was present to observe and choronicle his wife's participation in the event.

The same article quotes Russell Tall Chief ...
Russell Tall Chief, who is Osage and the director of the Jacobson House Native Art Center in Norman, drew laughter and applause when he told the group that he knew both the "cowboy" and "Indian" versions of the two-step.

"Why?" he asked. "Because I'm an Oklahoman."

He later said: "We cannot change the past, but we also cannot forget it. Together, we can heal our histories and ensure a healthy future."
And such was the spirit of those present in Guthrie on November 15. The images below show some of the mingling of white, black, and Native Americans who attended the sunset event.

Click any pic for a larger image.

Masonic Scottish Rite Temple

Looking West

Two Ladies

Native American Flute

Guthrie's Mayor

Indian Drummers & Chanters

Two More Ladies & Their Cool Hats

Sun Sets In The West

Gina Howard

Gina Howard & Mary Jo Watson

Closing Prayer & Ceremony

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Jason said...

Thanks for the story and photos. I was very interested in this event, but unable to attend.

Doug Dawg said...

Thanks, Jason. It was quite a nice event ... got a little chilly before it was done but not too bad!