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Acknowledging importance of Indian culture

Published: June 17, 2013

“Arrow smite: Pastor seeks ruling on car tag's legality” (Our Views, June 13) raised some interesting issues regarding the claims of a Methodist minister who objects to the Native American imagery on Oklahoma license plates but ultimately leaves the matter unresolved. The resolution is quite clear and based on sound Supreme Court precedent. The heart of the editorial's argument lies in the distinction between culture and religion, and indeed, this is the crux of the matter.

Among the specific instances mentioned are the various fights over Ten Commandment displays in various locales. The Supreme Court has established a precedent that assumes that the Ten Commandments alone represent an endorsement of religion while a statue of the Ten Commandments as a part of a larger display that represents a variety of beliefs, practices or traditions represents a cultural display (much as one sees on the side of the Supreme Court building in Washington, D.C.). The issue before us, then, is whether American Indian religion and Indian culture (an undeniable force in a state whose name means “land of the red man”) are inextricably linked. I would argue that they are, in a way that Christianity and America are not.

The intent of the inclusion of “Sacred Rain Arrow” on Oklahoma license plates wasn't to endorse Indian religion but to acknowledge the importance of Indian culture to this state.

Stephanie Wheatley, Stillwater


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