Oklahoma City has now joined dozens of cities across the nation in celebrating Indigenous Peoples’ Day. Oklahoma City Mayor David Holt, made it official Monday at a ceremony at Oklahoma City University.
Mayor Holt, the city's first American Indian mayor, issued the proclamation making official what up until now has been the widely debated topic at City Hall.
“I was aware that this had been debated at the council for the last few years, which I thought was a little unfortunate because we are the capitol of a state that has 39 recognized tribes, we have a lot of Native History here in Oklahoma City,” said Mayor Holt following the ceremony.
The mayor can unilaterally declare a symbolic day, and a couple weeks ago, Mayor Holt announced his intentions.
“The response has been 99% positive, I assure you anything we do in government, that’s a pretty good rate,” said Mayor Holt.
“Indigenous Peoples’ Day to me is about preserving,” explained Russ Tallchief, who moderated the ceremony.
The second Monday in October is also typically celebrated as Columbus Day, although Mayor Holt points out neither Oklahoma nor Oklahoma City has ever officially recognized Columbus Day.
“We need to also remember who was here first, that Columbus didn’t actually discover America we were already here,” said Tallchief.
But Tallchief says for him, Monday isn't about rebellion but a celebration of survival.
“It was a difficult period of time post 1492 for us but we’re still here,” said Tallchief.
Mayor Holt says as long as he's mayor of Oklahoma City, the city will continue to celebrate Indigenous Peoples’ Day.