Vendors, singing and sage
OKMULGEE, Oklahoma — On Oct. 8 the City of Okmulgee followed other communities in recognizing Indigenous Peoples’ Day instead of Columbus Day, although there was no formal replacement.
Okmulgee Mayor Stephen Baldridge addressed why the capital of Muscogee (Creek) Nation took this long to recognize the holiday.
“Should have done it a long time ago,” he said. “I don’t know why we didn’t but I am glad that we did.”
Baldridge read a resolution declaring the second Monday in October as Indigenous Peoples’ Day.
“Reaffirming the city’s commitment to promote the well-being and growth of Okmulgeeans, American Indians and indigenous communities,” he said.
Both MCN National Council Okmulgee District Reps. Del Beaver and James Jennings were on hand to speak to the crowd.
“It is a long time coming,” Beaver said. “Everyday is an Indigenous Day. There hasn’t been a day where I haven’t claimed Indigenous Day.”
Organizer for the event Muscogee (Creek) citizen Brenda Golden said she felt it needed to be recognized in the MCN capital.
Golden said she hoped more MCN officials were at the event. However, many attended the Tulsa ceremony.
“I felt that by our tribal officials going to Tulsa, they made this one a backseat,” she said. “I thought it was important to recognize the first Indigenous Peoples’ Day here in Okmulgee.”
According to an email from MCN Public Relations, MCN Principal Chief James Floyd was invited to the Tulsa event after the inaugural one last year and confirmed his attendance in July during The Gathering Place blessing.
‘Chief Floyd was the parade marshal that started at 11:30 a.m., the placed on the agenda at 1 p.m.,’ the email stated.
The email went on to state that Floyd could not be in two places at once and MCN was confident the presence of the Council representatives was adequate.
Golden feels that City of Okmulgee has recently made advances in working with MCN.
“They are collaborating with some community projects and we have representation on the city council,” she said. “It seems like we are coming a long way to include our Native population.”
Rounding out the program were vendors, hymnal singing, speeches from various attendees and poetry reading.