For Immediate Release
(Tulsa, Oklahoma, 10/9/13)–Four events on October 15 and 16 are planned to call attention to the need to protect ancestors and sacred places. The events include a legislative roundtable and concert on the first day and a round dance and symposium on the second. The events coincide with the week long Annual Convention of the National Congress of American Indians and are described below.
October 15, Tuesday – Legislative Roundtable on Sacred Places. A roundtable discussion in the Manchester Room of the Doubletree Hotel, Noon to 1:00 p.m., will focus on gathering support for the NCAI-proposed bill to amend the American Indian Religious Freedom Act. The amendment will ensure that federal laws protecting the free exercise of religion include protection of traditional Native American sacred places, where ceremonies, commemorations, observances or worship are conducted or occur, and to provide a right of action to protect Native American sacred places (NCAI Resolution #ABQ-10-065, Calling for Legislation to Provide a Right of Action to Protect Native Peoples’ Sacred Places). Roundtable Sponsors are the Muscogee (Creek) Nation, Oce Vpofv (Hickory Ground), Inter-Tribal Sacred Lands Trust and The Morning Star Institute.
October 15, Tuesday – Concert and Reception. An evening of live entertainment will take place in the Promenade Room of the Hyatt Regency, located at 100 E. 2nd St., from 7:00 p.m. to 2:00 a.m. The line-up includes John Trudell, poet, Smilin’ Vic, musician, Julian B., musician, Spirit Cry, musical band, Werewulf Micah, deejay, and Richard Ray Whitman, poet. Bunky Echo Hawk, nationally acclaimed artist, will perform a “live paint” during the evening, which will be auctioned the next day, with the proceeds to benefit Oce Vpofv (Hickory Ground). NCAI Candidates Michael Finley, Robert Shepard and Dennis Welsh are sponsoring this evening of entertainment free of charge to the public in honor of sacred places
October 16, Wednesday – Round Dance. A round dance in front of the Oklahoma Jazz Hall of Fame at Noon, is a call to bring everyone together to sing and dance in honor of our ancestors and sacred places. Led by the drum group, Wild Bird, this round dance is open to everyone and the public is invited to join in to show solidarity.
October 16, Wednesday – Spirit Fire: Protection of Ancestors and Sacred Places Symposium. The Spirit Fire Symposium – 1:00 to 5:00 p.m., Oklahoma Jazz Hall of Fame — is a unique event that will bring together a traditional chief, two elected chiefs, an Indian attorney, a history professor, poets, artists and candidates for the presidency of the National Congress of American Indians.
The Spirit Fire Art Exhibit, along with a Silent Auction, will feature artwork by some of the best contemporary artists in the country and take place in the Jazz Hall, 11:30 a.m. to 5:00. The Art Exhibit will continue for a week and will show artwork donated to the National Indian Monument Institute, plus works by Mel Cornshucker, Shan Goshorn, Clancy Gray, Kenneth Johnson, Merlin Little Thunder, America Meredith, Tim Tate Nevaquaya and Traci Rabbit. Some of the artists will be present during the Symposium.
Free Transportation. The Muscogee Nation Transit Department will provide bus transportation from the South East Corner of the Cox Convention Center (under the bridge) to the Oklahoma Jazz Hall of Fame every 15 minutes from 11:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., Wednesday, October 16.
Spirit Fire: Protection of Ancestors and Sacred Places Symposium will be moderated by Suzan Shown Harjo, a Cheyenne & Hodulgee Muscogee poet, writer, lecturer, curator and policy advocate, who has helped Native peoples recover more than one million acres of land and numerous sacred places. A leading advocate for the protection of ancestors and sacred places and President of The Morning Star Institute, she has developed many federal laws to protect Native sovereignty, culture, languages, arts, human rights, and religious practices, places and objects.
Dr. Harjo called the Symposium presenters “most impressive — we want to hear from more and more people who are deep thinkers and to learn what their thoughts are on protecting ancestors and sacred places.”
The Symposium presenters include George Thompson, Muscogee (Creek) Nation, Mekko, Oce Vpofv (Hickory Ground); Mario Gonzalez, Esq. Oglala Lakota attorney and co-author of The Politics of Hallowed Ground: Wounded Knee and the Struggle for Indian Sovereignty; James Riding In, Pawnee, Associate Professor of American Indian Studies at Arizona State University and Editor of Wicazo Sa Review; John Trudell, Santee Sioux, poet, performer and recording artist; and Richard Ray Whitman, Euchee and Muscogee (Creek), artist, actor and poet.
George Tiger, Principal Chief of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation, will welcome attendees to the Symposium and offer his thoughts on protecting ancestors and sacred places. The event and the NCAI Convention are located in Muscogee (Creek) Nation territory. Chief Tiger also is running for the NCAI presidency. The other known candidates have been invited to take part in the Symposium and to share their insights on protecting ancestors and sacred places.
“I’m happy to report that all the candidates have responded most graciously that they plan to be part of the Symposium,” said Dr. Harjo. “I told them that we look forward to hosting them and to hearing their thinking on these important subjects. This may be the first time that four top candidates for NCAI President have had such rich experience in advancing cultural sovereignty rights.”
Principal Chief John D. Red Eagle of the Osage Nation and Deputy Principal Chief Joe Crittenden of the Cherokee Nation also will make remarks at the Symposium. Tulsa lies within the territory of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation, the Cherokee Nation and the Osage Nation.
The Symposium comes at a time when Native sacred lands and waters are under increasing pressure from developers and many are being threatened and endangered. One of the most endangered places is at Hickory Ground, the Muscogee sacred ceremonial ground, burial area and historic site in Wetumpka, Alabama, where the developer is another tribe.
Spirit Fire is a collaboration of Oce Vpofv (Hickory Ground), National Indian Monument and Institute, The Morning Star Institute, George Tiger for NCAI President, Intertribal Sacred Land Trust, Oklahoma Jazz Hall of Fame, Tulsa Indian Art Festival, Nevaquaya Fine Arts Gallery and Power Ready.
For more information concerning Oce Vpofv (Hickory Ground) contact Wayland Gray at (918) 729-2955 or Brendan Ludwick at (415)684-7273. For details about the Art Exhibit and Silent Auction contact Robert Trepp at (918) 298-2300. For questions about the Roundtable or Symposium contact Suzan Shown Harjo at (202) 547-2009. For all other inquiries concerning SPIRIT FIRE contact Brenda Golden at (918) 758-6773.