OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) - Chanting â€œno justice, no peace,â€ American Indians and their supporters marched on the state Capitol Friday and denounced the events that led to Oklahoma's statehood 100 years earlier.
Carrying signs that read â€œTeach the Truthâ€ and â€œThis is the Land of the Red People,â€ about 500 members of various Oklahoma-based tribes observed Oklahoma's centennial by recalling the experience of ancestors who were forced from their traditional lands and marched to what became Oklahoma in the 19th century.
â€œWe were here before statehood. We were here first,â€ said Brenda Golden, a member of the Muscogee (Creek) tribe and one of the march's organizers.
â€œWe're not going to dosey-do with the white man today,â€ said Dwain Camp, a member of the Ponca tribe. â€œWe're going to do this as long as they celebrate taking our land.â€
Oklahoma became the nation's 46th state on November 16th, 1907, after unassigned lands set aside for Indian tribes were carved up for settlement in land runs that began in 1889. The state's centennial was celebrated Friday with music, parades and re-enactments of the statehood announcement in Guthrie, the state's first capital.
Marching behind a banner that read â€œWhy Celebrate 100 Years of Theft,â€ Indian marchers said they are struggling to preserve their heritage 100 years after statehood.
John Momaday, a member of the Kiowa tribe and nephew of N. Scott Momaday, the state's centennial poet and Pulitzer-prize winning writer, said history books do not teach children about the injustices suffered by Indians following statehood.
â€œThey need to know the truth about what went on,â€ he said.
Oklahoma is home to 39 Indian tribes. In 2005, about 290,000 Oklahomans, 8.1% of the population, identified themselves as American Indian.