Last Friday was the official centennial day in Oklahoma, commemorating 100 years of statehood. It was a work day for me, but the rest of my family was able to enjoy the parade and other celebrations in Guthrie, which was the first state capitol in Oklahoma. An entire website was created (guthriecentennial.com) to facilitate and share the activities of the day in Guthrie. I posted the photos my family took during the Guthrie centennial celebration to Flickr:

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I added a few of these photos to the Oklahoma Digital Centennial Flickr Pool, and was thrilled to see when I logged into Flickr today that over 150 other images were submitted in the last week to the pool:

Lots of new digital centennial photos!

Because I set this public Flickr group up with moderated images, I had to review the submitted images and click “approve” so that each image now shows up in the public pool. We now have over 500 images! This is not a huge group by Flickr standards, but I think it is very exciting to see in a visual way the power of social networking and digitally facilitated collaboration, at a local level with our Digital Centennial Project.

I learned two interesting things about Statehood day last week that I’ve been thinking about quite a bit since. The first concerns one of the “Historical Re-Enactments of Statehood.” I saw part of this on television last Friday. Re-enactors portrayed the marriage of a Native American woman with a white man, symbolizing the joining of Oklahoma’s native peoples with white settlers.

Oklahoma Centennial 8

Part of that ceremony is shown in this 1 min, 18 sec video clip from Newsok.com:

While there was a great deal of excitement and enthusiasm surrounding our state centennial celebrations, these events and the impact of the events they commemorate certainly invite mixed feelings for some. For Native American tribes, statehood in Oklahoma meant the official end of “Indian Territory.” Some Native Americans did participate in the official centennial events, including a “Sunset Ceremony” held in Guthrie exactly a week ago, on Thursday night. This clip from Newsok.com discusses the event and some of the reactions to it.

The statehood activities were not without controversy, however, nor do I think they should have been. According to the AP article last Friday “American Indians protest Oklahoma centennial: Demonstrators say U.S. officials stole land to create nation’s 46th state” some Oklahomans saw the centennial celebration as an affront:

“We were here before statehood. We were here first,” said Brenda Golden, a member of the Muscogee (Creek) tribe and one of the march’s organizers. “We’re not going to do-si-do with the white man today,” said Dwain Camp, a member of the Ponca tribe. “We’re going to do this as long as they celebrate taking our land.”

Thanks to Doug Loudenback for bringing that article to my attention in his blog write-up about the Centennial Sunset Ceremony.

As our Oklahoma Digital Centennial project transitions in name to the “Celebrate Oklahoma Voices” project, I hope we can invite participation from learners able to share the perspectives of people from our diverse Oklahoma Native American tribes. Certainly there are many voices which need to be heard and considered when we study the politics and events of both the past and the present. It’s exciting to be an Oklahoman in 2007. There’s never been a better time to live in the state. We have had a colorful history as a state and a territory, and I DO think our prospects for the future are extremely bright. It is critical to remember that everything which happened in the past is NOT worth celebrating, however. That theme was not something we heard about during the weeks and months leading up to our Statehood celebration day.

Whether our future WILL BE bright depends a great deal upon LEADERSHIP, however, and whether or not leaders in our state will step up with the vision to lead us into the 21st century. The Oklahoma 100 Ideas project was launched to fuel “innovation for Oklahoma’s second century,” and actually came to a close last Friday. As an outspoken advocate for transformative learning via one to one laptop initiatives in education, I am pleased to see two of the submitted ideas in the Oklahoma 100 Ideas project focus on this topic. If you search the ideas under “education” for “laptop” you can find them. They are:

Idea #2364 – submitted by: Rita Bergman, Tahlequah; 9/16/2007 10:29:57 AM

TOPIC: Education: laptop for every child

I would like to see Oklahoma take the lead into the future of education. Utilizing the available online education resources and funding a program to enable students to have a PC/laptop that they can use and work at their own pace…… would free up teachers to help answer questions while all the others are kept busy. It would also enable a health program to be set up so that those who finish work early can sign out and go to the gym or track to work out, or to drama club, or other productive activites…… our youth are spending WAY TOO MUCH TIME WITH NOTHING TO DO in the classrooms!!

and

Idea #3106 – submitted by: Elizabeth Windsor Post, Norman;

TOPIC: Laptops for Every School Student in Grades 7-12

The key to continuing the great tradition of Oklahoma’s boldness and innovation is to be at the forefront of innovative education. Our children & teachers in the next generation need the skills & tools to remain creative and competitive. Oklahoma needs to implement a 1-to-1 laptop program based on the highly successful Maine MLTI for students in 7th through 12th grades.

I’m hopeful the student-created digital stories made as part of our “Celebrate Oklahoma Voices” project will tangibly advance the agenda of broadening Oklahomans’ perceptions, expectations, and desires for what teaching and learning should look and sound like in 21st century schools.

The second thing I’ve been thinking about a bit since our Statehood day last week involves Garth Brooks. As you may know, Garth is a native of Oklahoma and still lives in Yukon, which is a town just west of Oklahoma City. According to Brandy McDonnell’s November 20th article “Why Garth Brooks didn’t sing at event” he disappointed at least a few Oklahoma country music fans last Friday:

Although he was listed as one of the five headliners for the event, country music star Garth Brooks didn’t perform. “Garth Brooks was very happy to be a presenter at the Oklahoma Centennial Spectacular. He was never intended to perform,” said his spokeswoman, Nancy Seltzer, in an e-mail to The Oklahoman… Brooks was the only musician in the extensive, cross-genre lineup who did not perform. The other country music stars identified as headliners — McEntire, Toby Keith, Carrie Underwood and Vince Gill — played at least one of their songs.

What is NOT included in this mainstream-media news article is any explanation of why Garth Brooks ONLY had concerts in Kansas City this fall, and not in any other location in the world. Garth signed an exclusive contract with Wal-Mart back in 2005 to be the exclusive outlet for his music, and I wonder if an exclusive deal was signed which prohibits when and where he can perform “live?” It certainly WAS a major disappointment that Garth couldn’t sing at the Statehood celebratory concert on November 16th, even though he was there in person. According to PlanetGarth.com, a 90 minute televised version of his November 14th concert in Kansas City will be aired tomorrow on Friday, November 23rd on Great American Country television. My parents and sister saw Garth Brooks perform live twice when he came to Bramlage Coliseum in Manhattan, Kansas. I’ve never seen him perform, but I would LOVE to. Perhaps circumstances will change and Garth will again sing in his home state in the years ahead. I hope so!

For a closing video link related to the Oklahoma centennial, I’ll share the following clip (again from Newsok.com) of the Chisholm Trail Drive re-enactment in September as it passed through Duncan, Oklahoma:

A great collection of images from this month-long cattle drive, which went from the Red River (separating Oklahoma and Texas) all the way to Caldwell, Kansas, is available on the official website of the 2007 trail drive. The last time a trail drive like this was held was in 1993. I dearly wish I had been able to see part of this trail drive in person, but the month of September was quite chaotic personally with a week spent in Shanghai for Learning 2.0 as well as 10 E-rate seminars around the state right after I got back from China.

Happy birthday Oklahoma! I hope our next hundred years as a state are better and more filled with opportunities for all peoples than our first hundred years.

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