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Tribal and city leaders dedicate Dream Keepers Park

City and local tribal leaders dedicated Dream Keepers Park in a ceremony on Saturday.

The 18th and Boulder site was Veterans Park for 30 years but was renamed earlier this year. Centennial Park at Sixth and Peoria is now Veterans Park.

"Naming this park in celebration of Native American leadership and accomplishment is one way, we, as tribal citizens of the greater Tulsa area, can preserve and recognize our culture, heritage, and contributions to this city,” said Greater Tulsa Indian Affairs Commission Chair Cheryl Cohenour.

A new sign now stands at the southwest corner of Dream Keepers park, and a Muscogee Nation flag is flying in the plaza across the street.

Principal Chief David Hill said he’s proud to see the tribe’s land acknowledged, especially near the Council Oak Tree where members established a village after the federal government forced them their home in the southeastern United States.

"Just knowing the history of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation citizens, the people, what we had to endure coming on the Trail of Tears. They want to keep the history, the language — you know, we want to keep it alive," Hill said.

"Today, we continue the dream of a thriving Tulsa at the intersection of thriving Muscogee, Osage, and Cherokee Nations. This space can be a wonderful place for cultural events, sports, education, or simply enjoying the outdoors for generations to come,” said District 4 City Councilor Kara Joy McKee.

City of Tulsa Chief of Culture and Recreation Anna America said the park will host Native American Day festivities and cultural events throughout the year.

"There aren't a lot of places in Tulsa if you're a Native American kid where you can go in your community and find things that honor your heritage and history. And so, we'll be adding those types of things at this park in partnership with the tribes and the Native American community. But also, it's going to be great for the non-Native Tulsans to come here and see that, to learn, to share," America said.

Hill said he’s looking forward to seeing improvements in the coming years, like public art from area tribes and a pathway honoring recipients of the Dream Keepers Award given by the Greater Tulsa Indian Affairs Commission.

"Hopefully, in the future, that we can have some stands or through the walk, the pathway, just possibly to show the history, a little bit of history about how did we arrive here, what did we do, from where we're at today. Hopefully, we can spread that type of history along the trails here," Hill said.

America said she also wants to find ways to honor Native Americans as typical park improvements are done.

"I was talking to someone here, and it was a great idea, I think, to add Indian language on the signs, some things like that ... just to bring that, expose more people to that culture and that history," America said.

Matt Trotter joined KWGS as a reporter in 2013. Before coming to Public Radio Tulsa, he was the investigative producer at KJRH. His freelance work has appeared in the Los Angeles Times and on MSNBC and CNN.