TULSA, Okla. – Natives from across northeastern Oklahoma converged on Utica Square Sunday afternoon to show their support for the growing Idle No More movement.
Organizers originally planned to have the event in a grassy area in the shopping center’s west side outside of a Starbucks. However, less than 10 minutes before the flash mob’s scheduled start time, Utica Square security guards asked the group to move to a parking lot in the southeastern corner of the shopping center. After walking to the new location proposed by security, organizers moved their round dance to the sidewalk and easement near the Utica Square entrance at 21st Street and Wheeling Avenue.
“They’re attempting to push us to the back of the bus where no one will see us, hear us or ask questions,” JoKay Dowell said.
Like the original location for the Dec. 29 Idle No More event in Oklahoma City, Utica Square is privately owned.
With Utica Square security and Tulsa police officers looking on, more than 50 people crowded around a drum to sing, dance and draw attention to issues facing Indian Country. Many children were among the attendees, including the toddler son of Fairfax, Okla., resident Jennifer Moses.
“I wanted him to be a part of this and to know what’s going on,” she said. “I thought it would be cool to be a part of this movement and see history happen.”
Along with signs and banners featuring the Idle No More movement’s name and Twitter hashtag, some participants brought signs focusing on local issues, including several signs and fliers about the legal fight between the Poarch Band of Creek Indians and the Muscogee (Creek) Nation over Hickory Ground, a pre-removal capitol and sacred site.
“We’re not here to offend anyone,” Dowell said. “We’re here to uphold what our ancestors died for. We need to let our kids know why we’re here.”
Launched in Saskatchewan by four women, Idle No More is a grass roots group formed in protest of an omnibus budget bill that they claim would violate the treaty and Constitutional rights of First Nations groups, while weakening environmental protection laws and land removal policies. It has since grown to include efforts to draw attention to issues facing Natives in other countries, including the United States.
Additional Oklahoma Idle No More events are scheduled for Saturday at 3 p.m. at the Tulsa Creek Community Center at 8611 S. Union Ave.; Saturday at 7 p.m. at the Choctaw Casino in Durant, Okla.; Jan. 28 at the state capitol building in Oklahoma City at 11 a.m.; Feb. 9 at Tulsa’s Brady Theater at 105 W. Brady St. and Feb. 10 at the Oklahoma City Downtown Library at 3 p.m.