Indigenous Environmental Network
This morning, Indigenous resisters & allies dropped two giant banners in Tulsa, Oklahoma to protest anti-Indigenous, anti-Black mayor GT Bynum. One of the banners dropped from an overpass on I-244 carried the message “Respect Us or Expect Us” and the other, hanging from a building opposite Tulsa City Hall contained a central image of Bynum with devil horns and the message, “GT Bynum, Yer Time is UP. You’re on Indian Land.” Bynum, a member of Oklahoma’s Republican good ol’boy club, is a friend of Donald Trump, a supporter of the anti-Indigenous governor Kevin Stitt, and stands ardently opposed to calls from Tulsa’s Black community to receive the reparations they rightfully demand.
This banner drop is meant to call attention to the anti-Indigenous efforts of the state and municipalities like Tulsa to stand against Oklahoma’s tribal nations, who, funny enough, keep the decaying state afloat and have for decades. In true GT Bynum fashion — and just in time to kick off Native American Heritage Month — Tulsans discovered their mayor submitted an amicus brief to the Supreme Court on behalf of the City of Tulsa, supporting governor Stitt’s wayward attempts to overturn McGirt. This Supreme Court decision was determined in 2020 and affirmed that east Oklahoma, including Tulsa, retains the status of never-disestablished Indian reservations. Arguments like Bynum’s attempt to victim-blame and place fault on the tribes. In reality, the state of Oklahoma and each of its municipalities never had jurisdiction to bring members of federally recognized tribes through their court system in the first place, and have been illegally handling such cases since.
Adding insult to injury, mayor Bynum ignored his own appointed body - the Greater Tulsa Area Indian Affairs Commission - which requested Bynum withdraw his brief. Bynum claims a “conflict of interest” because the Tulsa Indian Affairs Commission is made up of Tulsans with “positions in tribal government or stakes in tribal businesses.” An interesting position, considering his own municipal-level bedfellows include racist police, dirty oil magnates, and commissions Bynum and Tulsa City Council enabled to dismiss and ignore the Black community during the Tulsa Race Massacre Centennial earlier this year.
Perhaps none of this should surprise us, considering GT Bynum established his wealth, position, and power on the backs of the thousand Black people his family enslaved and on the lands Indigenous peoples were dispossessed of through genocide. One thing is for certain — we will continue to resist settler narratives that attempt to discredit, silence, and erase Black and Indigenous communities. GT Bynum: Your time is UP.
About Indigenous Environmental Network
Established in 1990, the Indigenous Environmental Network is an international environmental justice nonprofit that works with tribal grassroots organizations to build the capacity of Indigenous communities. Indigenous Environmental Network’s activities include empowering Indigenous communities and tribal governments to develop mechanisms to protect our sacred sites, land, water, air, natural resources, the health of both our people and all living things, and to build economically sustainable communities.
Learn more here: ienearth.org.