Red Earth Inc. announces plans to move Native American festival, launch new OKC Indigenous Peoples Day event
The venerable Red Earth Festival is leaving Oklahoma City even as organizers plan to launch a new event in downtown OKC as well as a series of statewide collaborative celebrations of Native American art and culture.
Lt. Gov. Matt Pinnell and OKC Mayor David Holt joined members of the staff and board of directors of the nonprofit Red Earth Inc. Monday morning at a media event at the Petroleum Club in downtown Oklahoma to reveal the changes.
The organization's marquee event - the long-running Red Earth Festival, an intertribal celebration of Native American visual art, dance and culture - will move from its longtime home in downtown Oklahoma City to the Grand Event Center at the Grand Casino Hotel & Resort in Shawnee for its 2020 edition, scheduled for June 13-14.
“Our 34th annual Red Earth Festival will feature America’s best and most accomplished artists - the same quality artists our guests have become accustomed to seeing each year,” said said Vickie Norick, Chairman of the Red Earth Board of Directors, in a statement. “The Festival will also include our other popular events including ‘Ask the Expert,’ our Youth Art Show, Native dancing, storytelling and music performances."
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The festival's current and most frequent home, the Cox Convention Center, will no longer be operating in its current iteration convention center following the opening of the nearly $300 million MAPS 3 convention center, which is under construction and due to be completed later this year. The new convention center doesn't have an arena like the one in the Cox Convention Center where the Red Earth Festival dance competitions and showcases take place.
Recent Red Earth Festivals have had an economic impact of $4 million to the state, according to a news release. The Grand Casino Hotel & Resort is owned by the Citizen Potawatomi Nation.
A favorite aspect of the summer festival, the popular Red Earth Parade will be staying in downtown OKC but will be shifting to autumn, as Red Earth Inc. will launch a significant new event to mark Oklahoma City’s Indigenous Peoples Day.
The Red Earth Parade is slated for Oct. 17 and will culminate with a festival market and pow pow celebrating Native art and culture at the Myriad Botanical Gardens.
“We’re thrilled to present Red Earth FallFest at the 17-acre Myriad Botanical Gardens in downtown Oklahoma City,” said Norick in a statement. “It’s a beautiful park that was awarded the title of Best Urban Open Space by the Urban Land Institute in 2015 in a competition that included parks from all over the world. Red Earth FallFest will be Oklahoma City’s first major Indigenous People’s Day celebration.”
Holt, a member of the Osage Nation and the city's first mayor of Native American heritage, issued a proclamation in 2018 designating an October celebration of Indigenous Peoples Day in OKC. He issued a similar proclamation again last year, and Gov. Kevin Stitt, a Cherokee Nation member, in 2019 signed legislation to move the state's Native American Day to the second Monday in October to coincide with Columbus Day.
Based in downtown OKC, Red Earth Inc. is planning several other events throughout the state in 2020.
"Mvskoke Voices," a collaborative art show with the Seminole Nation Museum in Wewoka will be on view April 6-June 13 and feature original works by eight prominent Muscogee (Creek) and Seminole artists. Since opening almost four decades ago, the Seminole Nation Museum has hosted more than a half million visitors from every state and 100-plus foreign countries.
Red Earth will collaborate with the Will Rogers Memorial Museum and the Claremore Chamber of Commerce to present the new Red Earth Spring Market April 18. The event will include an arts and crafts market, children’s activities, storytelling and social dances both inside the museum and on the lawn overlooking Claremore and Rogers State University.
The Red Earth Youth Art Show & Competition is slated for May 2-3 at OKC Outlets in Oklahoma City. The art education event is open to Native youth, ages 8 to 18, competing in three age divisions for prize money in categories including pottery, painting/drawing, graphics/photography, sculpture, basketry, beadwork, cultural items and jewelry. Winning art pieces are showcased in a special Youth Art Show at the 2020 Red Earth Festival.
In partnership with Tulsa Community College in downtown Tulsa, Red Earth will feature a Contemporary Art Exhibition at the Center for Creativity during the month of October. A workshop for students enrolled at the C4C School of Visual and Performing arts is scheduled in conjunction with the event, according to a news release.
The new events will allow Red Earth Inc. to continue to showcase its esteemed collection of Native American artwork and fulfill its mission of promoting American Indian art and culture while its new Red Earth Art Center is under construction.
The nonprofit organization reached agreement last year with BancFirst that will relocate the Red Earth Art Center to the south lobby of the BancFirst Tower. BancFirst purchased downtown Oklahoma City’s second-tallest building in 2018 with plans for extensive renovations of the landmark.
Last year, Red Earth Inc. moved its offices out of its former home on the ground floor of the Santa Fe Parking Garage into the BancFirst Tower, and the new Red Earth Art Center is set to reopen to the public inside tower lobby in 2021.
“We are so pleased to expand our events to include sites outside of central Oklahoma,” Norick said in her statement. “We’re going to bring the Red Earth to the people.”
For more information on Red Earth events, go to www.redearth.org.