What Flag Is That 11.21.21

The city of Tulsa, Oklahoma is the second largest city in the state. It is situated on the Arkansas River between the Osage Hills and the foothills of the Ozark Mountains in northeast Oklahoma, a region of the state known as “Green Country“. Tulsa was settled between 1828 and 1836 by the Lochapoka Band of Creek Native American tribe and most of Tulsa is still part of the territory of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation.

The original founders named their new settlement Tallasi, meaning “old town” in the Creek language, which later became “Tulsa”. The area around Tulsa was also settled by members of the other so-called “Five Civilized Tribes” who had been relocated to Oklahoma from the Southern United States. Most of modern Tulsa is located in the Creek Nation, with parts located in the Cherokee and Osage Nations.
Tulsa skyline

The area where Tulsa now exists is considered Indian Territory, on the land of the Kiikaapoi (Kickapoo), Wahzhazhe Ma zha (Osage), Muscogee (Creek), and Caddo tribes, among others,[19] before it was first formally settled by the Lochapoka and Creek tribes in 1836. They established a small settlement under the Creek Council Oak Tree at the present-day intersection of Cheyenne Avenue and 18th Street. This area and this tree reminded Chief Tukabahchi and his small group of the Trail of Tears survivors of the bend in the river and their previous Creek Council Oak Tree back in the Tallassee, Alabama area.

It has become a major cultural and educational center. (Not only is the Woody Guthrie center found here, but also the most extensive Bob Dylan collection is found here.)

There also continues to be tension between the Host Nation people, the “founders of the city, and the large oil businesses [“The Oil Capital of the World”.] In the early part of the 1900’s Tulsa was known as the ‘Black Wall Street‘ of the country. Thriving Black owned banks and businesses were found here. It’s notorious history included ‘the worst race massacre’ our country has witnessed.

From May 31 to June 1, 1921, up to 300 Black people were killed. Homes and businesses were burned and the Black residents of Tulsa were chased away
Thirty five blocks of homes were completely destroyed. One thousand Black people were left homeless with well over $1.8 million ($28,000,000 in today’s market) in total damages. The city and state are still considering what to do in terms of reparations.

Another dicey historical issue for Tulsa is the fact that it is still an official part of Indian land. In July 2020 the Supreme Court ruled in McGirt v. Oklahoma that as it pertains to criminal law much of eastern Oklahoma including Tulsa remains as Native American lands. Title to much of the land in Eastern Oklahoma was lost by the Native American reservations after the Civil War due to their support for the Confederacy. Specifically, prosecution of crimes by Native Americans on these lands falls into the jurisdiction of the tribal courts and federal judiciary under the Major Crimes Act, rather than Oklahoma’s courts. Therefore a myriad of questions remain about the city itself.

The flag of Tulsa, adopted in 2018, consists of an upper navy blue half and a lower beige half, separated by a gold horizontal line, with a gold Osage shield punctuating the left third. The shield contains a red circle, and a beige six-pointed star centered within the circle. The flag is notable for being one of the few modern flags to utilize beige in its design – a color often associated with faded dyes on flags from usage.

The navy blue field stands for the Arkansas River that flows through the city. The gold represents the “black gold” found in the city and therefore demonstrates the economic prosperity. The shield represents the Native Americans who were forcefully relocated to this Indian territory. The red circle stands for the blood of the victims of the race massacre. The star points to the future. The beige bottom field stands for warmth and community.

The flag from 1973 – 2018. Vexillological rules were ‘violated’ with this busy design with words that were not needed. 400 submissions were considered before the city council unanimously decided on the current design.

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