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This Land is My Land, Used to be Your Land
I few visitors wandered (or stumbled, as was the case over at fly over country, great name by the way) over from Motherload recently. For which I am grateful. But it does make me realize once again just how out of place my political opinions are here in Oklahoma.
Today an older man I was helping asked me if I was from Tulsa. How odd? I told him I was, I was born here, lived here most of my life except for a couple of years I lived down in Dallas. But you see, I'm a mixed heritage person, its hard to tell just what I am. I get this vague feeling that people don't know quite what to make of me. Since I speak english very well (I can slip into an okie accent when I want to, and english is my first and only language as well) I can't be pegged as a foreigner. I am an okie. I make my home here, out of choice and neccesity.
What I don't own is the mythologized history of Oklahoma that people 'round here seem to accept. I can't help but look at culture and history with an objective eye. I like to think that its something I learned having to deal with mixed heritage, by thinking of myself as a product of two streams of human activity that just happened to intersect with my parents.
Lynn over at Reflection in d minor commented on this recently:
I noticed two things right away when we moved here. The first is that everybody's great grandfather was in the Land Run. And second, every Oklahoma politician has at least three generations of ancestors who were "born and raised" in Oklahoma. I heard one who claimed five generations. Don't even think about running for public office in Oklahoma unless your entire family has lived in the state since the beginning of time. Not that there's anything wrong with being proud of one's family heritage but around here it just seems a little too exclusive.
I'm not sure of her intent in this remark but my take on this is similer: Its not that everybody had ancestors in the land run but rather its better that you associate yourself with the dominant cultural group. A quick reading of Oklahoma history shows that many people here should also be talking about how their grandparents were agitating socialists that fought in harsh labor struggles. But I think its a matter of not mentioning that to your grandkids and letting them think that you were one of the orginal okies that settled here. Or at least taking it upon yourself to adopt the mythology that will let you claim an elevated status in society. (Do we all just eventually adopt the history of the winners?)
What do I mean by mythology? Well this.. for one.
“Soon, the most visible landmark in Oklahoma will be the Oklahoma Land Run Memorial,” Istook said, “a series of 36 giant statues by the Bricktown Canal, in full view of travelers on Interstate 40. It depicts the Land Run, frozen in motion as pioneers race to stake a claim. This is a federal, state and private team effort, and this bill provides the one-third federal share. The federal government created the land runs to open up Oklahoma Territory for settlement. This monument will become the defining symbol of Oklahoma’s heritage, and of the people who came here to live out their hopes and dreams and stake their claim in America.”
Sometimes I can barely stand the heavy weight of irony (and you thought it was the humidity?) of people here in Oklahoma going on and on about how "the government" is going to come in and take over their land and tell them what they can do on their land! With barely a mention of the fact that these same white people wouldn't be here on their land if it wasn't for the federal government getting rid of the people that were here on their land before it was taken away and given away to the white settlers. (slaps forehead)
On the road to success you should burn all the bridges behind you.
So we build a monument to an act of federal intevention to disenfranchise people and drive them off their land. So you see, we fear not the monsters we build with violence and intimidation, we fear only that they will be turned upon their own creators.
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