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First Americans Museum (FAM) hosts observance of Indigenous Peoples Day

Patrick B. McGuigan

Oklahoma City – The First Americans Museum (FAM), which recently opened on the south banks of the Oklahoma River, hosted an observance of Indigenous Peoples Day on October 11.

The event included a social dance in the FAM courtyard, from Noon to 5 p.m. Simultaneous hands-on family activities were held in the Hall of the People. Two solo performances by Tvske Billy of the Prairie Dance Theatre were held in FAM Xchange Theatre.

Mayor David Holt spoke in the Courtyard during the afternoon. 

In a statement sent to The City Sentinel, Holt (a member of the Osage Tribe) said, “It is my honor to again proclaim Indigenous Peoples Day in Oklahoma City. I truly believe that with FAM’s opening, Oklahoma City can become the nation’s capital for Native and Indigenous people. Being able to host the Indigenous Peoples’ Day celebration at an amazing cultural facility like FAM reflects the potential I see for this community in the years ahead.

Scheduled events at FAM wrapped up with an evening “Indigenous-inspired live set” with DJ Werewulf (Muscogee/Kiowa).

In a press release before the event, Sarah Adams-Cornell (Choctaw), co-founder of Matriarch (an organization that promotes social welfare of Native women) said:

“Indigenous Peoples Day is important because it corrects a serious grievance against Indigenous people by replacing the celebration of Columbus with a day that lends to accurate education and representation about the original people of this land.

“Correcting myths of discovery and opening conversation about the diversity and strength of our tribal nations is an important part of reclaiming our story and rectifying the romanticized fairytales often told about Oklahoma.

“Indigenous Peoples’ Day is a celebration for all of our citizens and we look forward to a day of learning, community building and fun.”

The Oklahoma City event was echoed around the nation, as various organizations gathered to honor the first Americans.

Many of the events included direct verbal attacks on Christopher Columbus, the Italian sea captain who first sailed across the ocean in 1492, landing on a Caribbean island on October 12 and claiming it for Spain. The federal holiday honoring Columbus was observed Monday.

The Knights of Columbus, the world’s largest fraternal organization, has countered some of the attacks on Columbus, raising him up as a man of his times who sought to expand Spanish power to what became known as the “New World.”

In South Dakota, members of the Knights have advanced the cause of canonization for Nicholas Black Elk.

Black Elk (1863-1950) was a Lakota holy man (and Roman Catholic catechist) who has gained legendary status for his life, and death.

The First Americans Museum opened September 18 and 19.

FAM, its leaders said in a press release, “celebrates our shared American history through the collective stories of 39 distinct tribal nations in Oklahoma today. The museum promotes awareness and educates the broader public about the unique cultures, diversity, history, contributions, and resilience of the First American nations. The 175,000 sq ft museum is located at 659 First Americans Boulevard in Oklahoma City.”

Assigned Tribal delegates participated in the September 18 opening procession at the First Americans Museum (FAM) in Oklahoma City. Photo provided.