Northeastern Oklahoma A&M College (NEO) unveiled the Centennial Tribal Monument as part of its celebration of Indigenous Peoples’ Day on October 14, 2019. During the event, NEO Interim President Dr. Mark Rasor and Ottawa Tribe of Oklahoma Chief Ethel Cook both gave proclamations celebrating the occasion. “We wanted to highlight our partnership between NEO and the 10 Area Tribes and Nations,” said Hannah Berryman, AICE Mentor. “This monument illustrates the partnership we have had in the past, but also our continued efforts to improve the lives of Native students.”
The Centennial Tribal Monument features 10 steel feathers in a circle, nearly a dozen feet tall, representing the nine member tribes of the Intertribal Council, as well as the Cherokee Nation. Each feather weighs over 200 pounds and was constructed by students at Northeast Tech in Afton, Okla. Neece Concrete, Allen Sign Studio, and the NEO Physical Plant all contributed to the construction the monument. The monument was part of a series of initiatives to celebrate NEO’s centennial Year. Berryman and Centennial Campaign Chair Ryan Orcutt developed the project and led a $60,000 fundraising effort. Dr. Rasor’s proclamation decreed the second Monday in October Indigenous Peoples’ Day at NEO and highlighted the important role the NEO plays in Native student education. NEO is consistently ranked among the top associate degree producers in the nation for Native students, with Native students making up 20% of the student body.
Following the unveiling, a panel featuring Chief Ethel Cook of the Ottawa Tribe, Chief Billy Friend of the Wyandotte Nation, and Chief Craig Harper of the Peoria Tribe, moderated by University of North Carolina Field Scholar David Dry discussed termination of federal recognition and the later reversal of termination legislation. NEO English Instructor Kalyn McAlister later presented works from her collection called Polk’s Continental Nation.
For more information and photos of the event, visit Facebook.com/gogoneo. (Group photo from left: Chief Billy Friend, Wyandotte Nation; Representative Ben Loring; Chief Craig Harper, Peoria Tribe; Troy L. LittleAxe, Jr., Tribal Admin. Modoc Nation; Chief Sparkmen, Shawnee Tribe; Victoria Vasquez, Cherokee Nation Council; Chairman John Berrey, Quapaw Nation; Chief Glenna Wallace, Eastern Shawnee Tribe; Chief Douglas Lankford, Miami Nation; Senator Micheal Bergstrom; Dr. Mark Rasor, NEO Interim President; Hannah Berryman, AICE Mentor)