In 1994, 105 years after the Land Run, a mural was painted outside of the south wall of the Communications Building at the University of Central Oklahoma. Following over ten years of controversy and a recent rehash of the conversation, the university decided to remove the mural and replace it with a more inclusive mural later in the semester.
The history of the Oklahoma Land Run leaves a sour taste in the mouths of Native Americans understandably, due to the fact that they were forced from their land by incoming settlers.
The mural depicts a rush of wagons, multiple cowboys and a photographer but includes absolutely nothing about Native Americans or their side of the event. Savannah Anderson, public relations chair for NASA deemed the mural unacceptable for an inclusive campus like UCO’s.
“The main focus of the new mural will be the cultural diversity that is represented here on campus instead of just focusing on one perspective, which is one of the reasons the Land Run mural is so bad,” Anderson told UCentral News.
Personally, I’m not the biggest fan of erasing American history from our walls and landmarks. Not because I’m proud of it but because I’m ashamed of it. As an American of both African and Muscogee Creek lineage, my ancestors have been through the wringer, in the cruelest and most unusual ways possible. I was fortunate enough to have parents, grandparents and other family members that were educated on these topics to teach me the complete truth behind American history, but not everyone was that fortunate. However, we can’t let America off the hook by erasing some of its cruel histories. We can’t live in a fairytale land, ignoring and trying to erase what happened.
The painting on the side of UCO’s Communication building may be accepted better by Native Americans if it showed an accurate depiction of what actually happened during the Land Run. The only people that would be offended by that are the people that are proud of the part of America’s history that was predicated off racism and in this case, theft.
“Many times underserved communities don’t see themselves reflected in the story of our country in a way that shares the full detail and their full experiences, nor in a way that will allow us to better understand the current ramifications of history and the resulting feelings, emotions, and societal challenges,” said MeShawn Conley, director of UCO’s Office of Diversity and Inclusion.
The current mural will be replaced by a more inclusive mural by April 2019. I hope it’s the same thing, the Land Run, but depicted from the lense of both parties involved. It needs to tell the whole truth. America’s history can’t be erased but it can be altered and sugar-coated. Let’s not allow this to happen anymore. Let true American history be displayed.