10/15/07

Because I Heard the Oklahoma Centennial Parade Just Happened

From an interview I did to be published by the Humanities Council in Oklahoma, conducted by Harbour Winn. I hope he doesn't mind if a bit appears here:

Many of have dreaded the celebration of the Sooner State centennial. I can understand the organization of the state wanting to celebrate it’s incorporation. Not everyone in the state has cause to celebrate. The state as an entity represents theft and second-class citizenship for many of us. The state came about over land grabs, over broken promises, and in the relatively fresh wake of Cotton Mather’s hatefulness--which is born out again in the Bible belt fundamentalism. And the motto “The Sooner State” has always bothered me. Why is that the state motto? “Sooner State” honors those who jumped the line for first dibs on land claims. They were the quicker thieves. Statehood is really more about gun power, and the ability to takeover and control. We also have a state now that encompasses many communities, many times. There’s a genealogy of sorts. We’re all here. At the center of Mvskoke philosophy is a term: vnvketcv, which is, compassion. You look for the best in any situation, and keep moving about with grace, no matter the trial. We were uprooted from our homeland and moved to Indian Territory, were promised to be left alone, and then here it is again, and not only that, oil is discovered on our allotted lands. It doesn’t end. Now there are genetic patents on our plants, our medicines. Still, we’re dealing with gun power. So it seems to me that to celebrate the centennial means that we celebrating a takeover. The best possible outcome is perhaps a conversation between the citizens of Oklahoma. Has this come about from the centennial? One day there will be that conversation that needs to be had where everybody sits down at the table: Cotton Mather and his people, my people, the eagle, stones, the plants, the winds, all of us. And we will be equal. And everyone’s voice will have a place.

7 comments:

Jfrancessmith said...

For anyone who is interested, go to google and put in Black Wall Street, Oklahoma in the 1900's. History Speaks for itself.
However, in the 1950's, Joy Harjo was born in Tulsa, from that day on, Tulsa will never be the same. The eagle landed, and Joy fell from the clouds, and from that time on, the good will always outweigh the evil. I know it's true, a raven told me so. Peace, Joan

Agiyo said...

Isn't it just an existential gift that one of the USA's most conservative states celebrates cheats and thieves? Actually, Oklahoma may be one of the most antediluvian political structures in the world. Imagine that, world class at last.

Arguably, the most cherished "product" in the state is the OU football team, and they are The Sooners. Righteous. Party On, but hold the alcohol. And dancing.

Joe Martin

Becky said...

A lot of our celebrations are just that -- a celebration of a takeover. Thank you.

Craig said...

I and a few relatives would like to sit at that table also...if and when

marcie said...

I hear the drum of your heart beat in this writing and its a "good heart" that can see the truth, and still beat for all. Namaste.

mintonvalleylady said...

All you say is true and when that day comes I long to be there.History is repeated over and over, they do not learn from their mistakes, they take take take...one day it will be the other way around.
Atonda

Joy said...

Atonda, I'm coming to Oklahoma late Friday night, until Sunday afternoon. Will you be around? Email or call me.