Anadarko_Monday was the kick off of the Indian capital's 76th Annual American Indian Exposition. Thousands showed up for the opening parade and tens of thousands are expected throughout the week. The Anadarko Chamber of Commerce said it's the biggest money making event of the year for the Oklahoma city. Not only is the expo such a huge yearly event, but it marks the 106th birthday of Anadarko. The city is older than Oklahoma, itself.
There's a lot of rich heritage in this city, known as the "Indian Capital of the Nation" and it even has one of the nation's oldest and few remaining Indian boarding schools. Students come from all over the nation to attend this school. This week, residents who live in the heart of Native American culture get to share what they experience every day with people from everywhere.
It's a homecoming, of sorts, for everyone who makes their way back to Anadarko this time of year. Many residents say The Indian Exposition is the city's signature event and naturally tribal members proudly represent their heritage in handmade regalia. Dorothy Gray, a Kiowa tribal member has been coming to the exposition all of her life. "It's a celebration for all Indian," she said. "It's an exciting time."
Native Americans make up the majority of the population of Anadarko in both the schools and the community, but the city still feels like a melting pot with many different races and cultures. But there's something in Anadarko, this time of year, that you may not find anywhere else; The Chiricahua Apaches, commonly known as the Apache Fire Dancers. At the exposition, they perform the "Dance of the Mountain Spirit", which has been passed down to the Gooday family from generations of ancestors. The dance is said to drive away sickness and evil and bring good health and fortune.