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CULTURE

One of the Most Ancient & Richest Cultures on Earth is Yours

In 1899, a group of men and women met at the home of two brothers to establish the church we know today in North Tulsa as First Baptist Church North Tulsa. The photo above of Ute Chief Sevara and his family was taken less than 5 years earlier, credited to Nast of Denver. It is a reminder of why most Oklahomans understand we live in Indian Territory not just because of the land and treaties, but, because many of our institutions today, were built in Indian Territory, that new and permanent home of dozens of native nations who were coerced to exchange hundreds of millions of acres in every direction of the continent for far, far fewer acres here.

Most of those exchanges led to journeys here, trails of tears, that began in the 1830s.

By the time First Baptist was established and Chief Severa's family sat for their portraits, each of five of the largest nations were firmly established here, using money from the "sales" of their vast holdings in the South to build homes, schools, commerce and were governing from the halls of their own capitol buildings. The Cherokee Nation would create the world's first public school system.

Bounded by the Confederate slave states of Texas and Arkansas and the Union slave state, Missouri, in the 1860s the US Civil War brought battles and ultimate near ruin to the nations of Indian Territory. Irony is not lost that almost the entirety of the seceding states had a generation before been the home of the five nations mentioned above; land ceased by the United States from these nations had been given to the settlers who now waged the bloodiest war in history against the United States.

It was a  lesson the United States would forget half a century later when, to attain votes and power for one political party, with the stroke of a pen it devolved the rights of all the nations of Indian Territory, allowing the new state of Oklahoma to align, beginning in 1907, with the political and economic goals and social customs of the former Confederate states surrounding it.

This is a long history to get to my point...just as Indian Territory is the beginning of Oklahoma history, not the end of Indian Territory...American Indian history is the unheralded beginning of the history of the United States of America, it has not ended. 

Native American Heritage Month leads us into a new age of scholarship into our own past which is just as rich and regal and spectacular and ancient as any Egyptian complex of pyramids or tales of Roman or Greek philosophy.  Land cultivation, customs, rituals, art, cities that were centuries old before the birth of the nation states of Europe. Religions that predated Judaism, Christianity and Islam by millennia sustained thousands of generations with origin stories not unlike those of the Torah, the Bible and the Koran in some ways, more generous to life and humanity in others, and, in yet others, even more blood-thirsty and violent.

It's thievery not to have our children study Aristotle and Sequoia.

What's holding us back?

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Compare the 1880s Indian and Oklahoma territories map below with 1650s map above.

See the names of nations across the continent and see their new placements in Indian Territory.

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One thing holding us back is our current understanding of our history.

It's common knowledge that when the European settlers escaped poverty to the new world, these lands were mostly unoccupied, that's why it was OK to cease them. But, the 1650 map above shows that these lands were home to multiples more people, nations and languages than any group of European settlers left behind.

Common knowledge is wrong. 

Our part of the world was neither new nor unoccupied prior to early Scandinavian, Italian or Spanish or Portuguese exploration.

The first Africans who would become enslaved in what's now the USA arrived before The Mayflower.

GRAVES INVESTIGATION UPDATE

CITY OF TULSA

June 25. 2021

The City of Tulsa and archeology experts announced today that the first phase of the 1921 Graves Investigation at Oaklawn Cemetery is now complete, which consists of the archeological exhumation and fieldwork.

 

Dr. Stackelbeck and the teams from the University of Oklahoma – Oklahoma Archaeological Survey (OAS) and CARDNO have now completed the first phase of exhumation and fieldwork at Oaklawn Cemetery and will be returning home while the final phase of the investigation continues with forensic analysis experts.

 

The last phase in the 1921 Graves investigation will focus on the forensic analysis of the 19 exhumed human remains from Oaklawn Cemetery. Dr. Phoebe Stubblefield and her team will remain in Tulsa and will conduct their portion of the investigation at the onsite lab inside Oaklawn Cemetery, which is expected to take three to four weeks. The lab is closed to the public.

 

With field work complete, the City will not have daily updates or news updates since ongoing analysis is underway. Once the forensic investigation is complete, Dr. Stubblefield will present a formal report with findings from the forensic analysis to the Public Oversight Committee during a public meeting.

 

Once the forensic analysis is complete, the exhumed remains will be reinterred at Oaklawn Cemetery. The excavation area on the south west side of Oaklawn Cemetery will be blocked off until the final reinterment takes place. Oaklawn Cemetery will open to the public by early next week.

 

For the latest news and information on the 1921 Graves Investigation, including photographs and drone video from inside Oaklawn Cemetery, visit www.cityoftulsa.org/1921Graves and follow 1921 Graves on Facebook, @1921Graves.

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Mrs. Mary E. Jones Parrish

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Recommended Reading

MARY E. JONES PARRISH wrote the only known book by an eyewitness of the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre, read it here.