“We feel like it celebrates genocide,” Oklahoma Land Run reenactments a thing of the past for one district

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OKLAHOMA CITY - The Oklahoma Land Run is an important part of our state’s history.

For years, it has been taught in our schools through reenactments with students playing the role of settlers staking their claim to land.

However, that reenactment will no longer be a part of the lesson in one of our state’s largest districts.

It all started about a week and a half ago when representatives from the White House were in Oklahoma City conducting 'a listening tour.'

They were trying to see what it’s like to be a Native American student in Oklahoma City Public Schools.

They found out those Land Run reenactments can be a source of anger and confusion for some students.

“These Land Run reenactments celebrate a really tough time in Native culture.  We feel like it celebrates genocide,” said Sarah Adams-Cornell, with the Oklahoma City Public Schools Native American Parent Service Committee.

For years now, Native American parents in the Oklahoma City Public School District have been trying to put a stop to the reenactments.

“Native Americans were not allowed to run in the Land Runs, their options were very limited.  You either left the land or you were killed,” said Adams-Cornell.

“The White House was here, conducting a series of discussions on Native American issues,” said Rob Neu, Oklahoma City Public Schools Superintendent.

Neu says that caused them to conduct a survey across the district to see how many teachers were still using the Land Run reenactment.

“We found one classroom.  So, it was not something that was embedded in the curriculum and we found one classroom that was participating in it,” said Neu.

Oklahoma City schools have now written it into their curriculum that Oklahoma history will be taught without Land Run reenactments.

It's a victory for some parents who hope it reaches other districts in our state.

“We hope that they absolutely learn about it.  They need to learn about it.  But celebrating it with reenactments is a totally different issue,” said Adams-Cornell.

Adams-Cornell says they are working on a pilot project for schools that would be called Oklahoma History Day.

It would give all angles of the Land Run, from the Native American, immigrant and settler perspectives.

She says it is a way kids can hear all sides and get an accurate view of that time in our state’s history.

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