Resolution Could Change Land Run Mural’s Future
A mural of the Oklahoma land run of 1889 was painted on the side of the Communications building at UCO in 1994 by Dr. Bob Palmer and Donna Sandager. A group of students at UCO have recently demanded the removal of the mural, because it doesn’t depict Native Americans. (Ryan Naeve / The Vista)
An open forum was held last week to discuss the future of the Land Run mural that is painted on the Communications building. No decision has been made, but the Faculty Senate is working toward a resolution.
Students and faculty members spoke to express their feelings on the mural and to share ideas of what could be done to make it more inclusive of Native American history and culture.
Miss Native American UCO Savannah Waters was a member of the panel present at the forum.
“The depiction and celebration of the land run is a constant reminder of a time that was not just unpleasant, but a time of disgust and betrayal to the Native people of Oklahoma,” Waters said. “We [at UCO] are continually breaking barriers and being more progressive. When I think of UCO, I think of inclusion and that was one of the main draws for me to come here.”
Several individuals shared their desire to see more diversity and inclusion in the changes made to the mural. Suggestions included inviting students from the art department to use their talents, purchasing a banner to advertise the College of Liberal Arts, incorporating a representation of Native American history or simply adding the words, “We can still do better.”
Bob Palmer is the artist who painted the mural about 20 years ago, alongside a few UCO art students. He said this has never been his favorite mural, but he does not want to see it gone. Palmer said he is open to collaboration and has a few ideas of his own.
“One thing would be maybe I would think you could even do some other things, even below that mural. So there are some other things that could be looked at,” he said.
Faculty Senate President John Maisch said the senate will work to bring a resolution over the next month. If the resolution passes, it will be sent to the administration for approval.
“I’m really enthusiastic and have a lot of confidence in this administration. They seem very faculty-centric, learning-centric, meaning whether it’s President [Don] Betz or Provost [John] Barthell, is that they have the students’ interest in mind first and foremost, and faculty in mind as well,” Maisch said.
Faculty Senate meetings are open to students and faculty. Meetings are held at 2 p.m. the second Thursday of the month in the Forensic Science Institute Auditorium.