When I received an invitation to return to Red Earth this year I began to recall all the things I really enjoyed about my previous visit to the Red Earth celebration in Oklahoma City. Of all the wonderful Native American Indian events I have attended over the years Red Earth has always stood out in my mind for two things.
The first thing that comes to mind is the excitement and intensity of the Grand Entry. With the drums pounding and the procession of hundreds of dancers entering the arena the spectacle is almost overwhelming. If you have not had the opportunity to witness this very special event you really should plan to be in Oklahoma City this year during the first weekend of June.
The second thing that I recall quite vividly is the quantity and quality of the two dimensional art at Red Earth. Gallup Ceremonial in New Mexico is very special because of the three dimensional art - in particular the Navajo weavings, jewelry and sculpture. Gathering of Nations in Albuquerque has a spectacular Grand Entry as the dancers flow into the famous University of New Mexico basketball arena known as "The Pit."
Red Earth will be different this year from the time of my last visit. This year it will be held at Native owned Remington Park, next door to the Oklahoma City Zoo (be sure and find the Red Panda) and Science Museum Oklahoma. It will be interesting to see the changes that have occurred during the past 19 years since my last Red Earth experience.
I have been back to OKC since then and there is a great deal to see and do in addition to Red Earth. If you go plan to spend a few days for some of the other attractions. You won't want to miss Bricktown for great dining (try Mickey Mantle's) and a ride along the canals.
One other suggestion. Oklahoma City is a wonderful, fun city to visit, but there is another side equally important. The inescapable history of OKC includes the tragic bombing of the Murrah Federal Building. I would encourage anyone visiting to take a couple of hours to visit the Oklahoma City National Memorial and Museum. They have done a wonderful and very interesting job of exploring the events of that fateful day in 1995. Please trust that it will not dampen your spirits on this visit to OKC. Instead it will give you an insight into the resilience of the local populace and help you understand some of the things the city has been through. It will give you all the more reason to celebrate and enjoy what Oklahoma City has to offer to its visitors.
I just rummaged around my stack of old T-shirts (I have it down to about 60 or 70 now) and found my 1995 Red Earth shirt with a print of one of my favorite Native artists on the front - Sam English. The collar is frayed, but the colors are still great. It has become a stay-at-home work-around-the-house shirt but it always reminds me of OKC and Red Earth. Looks like I'll have to try and find another one in June.
I'm excited about returning to OKC and Red Earth in June. I hope you will be there, too. Enjoy Red Earth and all that Oklahoma City has to offer and . . . Keep on Traveling!