LAWTON, Okla. (TNN) - The City of Lawton celebrates its second Indigenous Peoples’ Day on Wednesday. The Lawton City Council passed the resolution in 2018, recognizing Indigenous Peoples’ Day on the second Monday of October each year.
“We’re one of hundreds of other cities across the country that are turning the narrative around and not just eliminating Christopher Columbus Day, but just talking about Columbus through our own lens as someone who did not discover us," said Dr. Cornel Pewewardy, coordinator of Lawton’s Indigenous Peoples’ Day. "Particularly for indigenous people who were already here. So it could be even the other way around in that we discovered him.”
One of the event speakers, Jacob Tsotigh, said he is thankful for the opportunity to celebrate in their home land.
“This place was ours before it was Lawton," said Tsotigh. "It was given to us through the treaty of Medicine Lodge in the 1860s and this whole area was designated for Kiowa, Comanche, and Apache and we had been forced to relinquish our claim to this land through negotiations.”
Dr. Pewewardy said Indigenous Peoples’ Day is about teaching others about their culture and heritage.
“We acknowledge the tribal lands of the Comanche, the Kiowa and the Apache as we started our day, because they remind us every day that this is indigenous land," said Dr. Pewewardy. "So as you make a home or our way or educate our children, we also need to educate them about who was here first.”