The second Monday in October will be recognized by the city of Tulsa as Native American Day.
The City Council on Wednesday passed a resolution at the behest of the Greater Tulsa Area Indian Affairs Commission.
The group had proposed renaming Columbus Day, “as several cities and states in the United States (Albuquerque, Minneapolis, Seattle, California, North Dakota) have enacted laws re-naming Columbus Day as ‘Indigenous Peoples Day’ or ‘Native American Day’ in honor of the Native peoples and their contributions to American culture,” according to supporting information submitted March 8 for the council resolution.
“Some cities have done this, but we are not,” a city spokeswoman told the Tulsa World. “Tulsa is recognizing Native American Day on the same day as Columbus Day but not doing anything to the designation of Columbus Day.”
The council voted unanimously to approve the resolution with the modification of establishing the recognition of Native American Day without renaming the holiday.
Robert Anquoe, vice-chairman of the Greater Tulsa Area Indian Affairs Commission and a mayoral appointee, said the effort to create Native American Day in Tulsa has been a long time coming. When he chaired the commission two years ago, he reintroduced discussion that had began within city committees “long before that.”
“They really did some good work,” Anquoe said, adding that the goal in Tulsa was never to replace Columbus Day. The language of the Tulsa resolution notes only that “all too often, an inaccurate portrayal of history is taught in our school systems that Columbus and the Europeans were the first peoples to ‘discover’ America.”
Columbus Day will remain a federal holiday, with Tulsa city offices remaining open that day, Oct. 9 this year.
Anquoe said the tribes have been supportive through this effort and are excited to see the resolution passed. He said an event celebrating Native American Day in Tulsa would be “probably pretty simple this year being that it’s such short notice,” but the commission will call a special meeting to plan.
“We’re proud of the city of Tulsa, proud of our Native heritage, and we just want to express that and share that with the community,” Anquoe said.