American Indian Festival of Words to honor Indigenous contributions

Collaborator: Rachael Schuit
Published: 02/28/2024, 9:14 PM
Edited: 03/02/2024, 1:17 AM

(TULSA, Okla.) Indigenous history, culture, arts and achievements are all around us. This March, the Tulsa City-County Library (TCCL) is honoring these contributions through The American Indian Festival of Words.

The series will begin on March 2 with TCCL’s Circle of Honor Award Presentation, which celebrates the actions and achievements of an American Indian who has made a positive impact in the lives of others. 

This year’s award will be given to John Herrington, a Chickasaw Citizen and the first citizen of a federally recognized tribe to travel to space. 

Herrington served as a U.S. Navy Commander in addition to his role as a NASA astronaut and told VNN he feels honored to be receiving this award. 

Born in Wetumka, Oklahoma, Herrington said he's grateful he will be able to have his family that lives in Oklahoma in attendance for the presentation.

"Humbling for sure. I look at the folks that have received the award before - and that is quite some company."

For Herrington, the dream of going to space began when during his childhood in the 1960's and 1970's as he watched the missions to space. 

"When I got to NASA they said I was the first member of a federally recognized tribe to be in the astronaut corps," said Herrington. "I found myself in a very unique position where I could be a role model to kids that never had a role model like that before."

Herrington says he takes that role seriously and speaks to Native American Youth and communities whenever he has the chance. 

"I think when people have a dream about doing something and they see somebody that they can identify with, they're recognized with, they can take ownership of that," said Herrington.

Herrington also hopes he can inspire Native American youth who are interested in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM), to consider careers in that area. 

"We need problem solvers, we need people to be analytical," said Herrington. "We have to have people that have a technical ability be able to go out and take on the tough challenges."  

The presentation will begin at 10:30 am on the first floor of the Central Library. 

Prior to the award ceremony, there will be family fun with the Tulsa Air and Space Museum in the children’s department of the library from 9:00 to 10:30 a.m. 

Herrington said he will also be giving a presentation and answering questions from the audience.

The American Indian Festival of Words will continue throughout the month of March with multiple events.

For families with kids who love crafts and are looking for something fun to do at home, the Nathan Hale Library will be distributing Take and Make 3 D Turtle Kits between March 4 and 30. 

Those interested in traditional Native American Dance are encouraged to attend the Fancy Dancing with Michael Loman on Saturday, March 16 at Kendall-Whittier Library. This event will also include dance exhibitions from multiple tribes between 2:00 and 3:00 pm. 

The Euchee Butterfly Farm and the Tribal Alliance for Pollinators will be doing a presentation at South Broken Arrow Library from 2:00 pm to 3:00 pm on Tuesday, March 19.

Adults who love crafts have the opportunity to learn pottery and patchwork with Crystal Hanna, a Cherokee potter who will teach a pottery workshop at the Kishner Library on Wednesday, March 20 1:00 p.m. to 2:00 pm. 

Anyone interested must reserve a spot ahead of time by calling 918-549-7323. 

A patchwork class will take place at the Glenpool Library on Saturday, March 23, from 1:00 pm to 3:00 pm. 

And for families interested in sports, there will be a Native Stickball Throw Around with the SUN CHIEFS on March 28. 

Stickball is an ancient game that Native people used to settle challenges. The game will take place from 4:00 pm to 6:00pm at the Jenks Library. The audience will also have the chance to participate. 

More information about the American Indian Festival of Words can be found online here


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