Events: Visiting Oklahoma Location: Oklahoma City, Oklahoma Chaperone: Melissa Sanchez and Dr. David Bearshield What was your role or duties? Attend OIN Powwow, visit with the Cheyenne and Arapaho Youth Council, visit First Lady of Oklahoma at the Governor’s Mansion, meet city of El Reno Mayor, visit the American Indian Cultural Center and Museum, and visit with community members from the area.
My great experience in Oklahoma City started right when I arrived at the airport, where I was surprised by the youth council right when I walked out to the baggage claim! They sang two songs for me and even the surrounding people watched and clapped in awe. It was a great welcoming.
The first place to start off our Friday adventure was the American Indian Cultural Center and Museum in Oklahoma City. We toured the still in construction museum in hard hats and mocs with Shoshana Wasserman. She showed us the entire facilities and shared the vision behind all the carefully thought out planning of the building. It was interesting and impressive to see how well thought out the detail of the facilities would be, from the copper and stones being used to the layout of the building. An ongoing project since 2004, the museum’s grand opening will be in May of 2021, where all 39 tribes of Oklahoma will be taught and represented. Then we were off to the Governor’s Mansion of Oklahoma! I had the honor of meeting First Lady Sarah Stitt, wife of Governor Kevin Stitt. The mansion was beautiful and so detailed, the carpet in the foyer had the names of all 39 tribes embroidered along the edge and the dining room chairs were all hand embroidered with the seals of different tribal nations by former first ladies. The First Lady was very sweet, we talked about our families and shared jokes before we departed. I appreciate the hospitality of Oklahoma’s First Lady and her staff. We enjoyed some fried catfish and sweet tea at Toby Keith’s Bar and Grill (mmhhmhhm) and set off to meet the Mayor El Reno, Mr. Matt White. A surprise I couldn’t have thought of in my wildest dreams, I was presented a key to city of El Reno and a proclamation making August 2nd Miss Indian World, Cheyenne Kippenberger Day (try saying that five times fast)! My jaw literally dropped and the key is way bigger than a normal one! Shonaabesha/Mvto (thank you) to Mayor White for his kindness! We then made our way to meet with the Cheyenne and Arapaho R.E.Sp.E.C.T. Youth Council. I was excited to meet with the youth council because I had met some of the members previously at the UNITY Conference in Orlando, FL, so instead of meeting them it was more like catching up with one another. They shared with me some of their past and current projects they have done within their community and Governor of the Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribes, Reggie Wassana, joined us as well. I appreciate the youth for coming and the organizers for bringing us together. A lot of us were also attending the powwow so we said our see you laters and rushed to go get ready. Nothing like some familiar faces, gourd dancing, and Braums to end an already great day! We got some well needed rest and got up early for the Buffalo 5k Run and Walk and watched some horseshoe and volleyball.
I attended my first gourd dancing ceremony, where I was the guest of Virgil Franklin Jr and Ida Hoffman. I loved it! I danced till my calves wouldn’t let me anymore. Some good dancing and good food on a Saturday afternoon. We headed back over to OIN powwow, it was bittersweet to know my visit was coming to an end, but it was spent with such loving, kind, welcoming people. I’m incredibly thankful to those that made this visit so special to me, a special shonaabesha/mvto to David Bearshield for organizing everything!!! I’ll be back soon Oklahoma!