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Artistic skulls draw attention at Oklahoma City's Centennial Land Run Monument

An artist put cast-iron skulls, some with replicated blood, at the Centennial Land Run Monument in Oklahoma City as a statement about the Land Run of 1889.
BY KYLE SCHWAB kschwab@opubco.com Modified: June 25, 2013 at 4:26 pm •  Published: June 25, 2013
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/articleid/3855887/1/pictures/2141697">Photo - Shown is one of the  39 skulls artist Geoffrey Krawczyk placed around the Centennial Land Run Monument in Bricktown on June 16. Each skull represented a federally recognized Indian tribe in Oklahoma. <strong> - Photo by Liz Chow</strong>
Shown is one of the 39 skulls artist Geoffrey Krawczyk placed around the Centennial Land Run Monument in Bricktown on June 16. Each skull represented a federally recognized Indian tribe in Oklahoma. - Photo by Liz Chow

When finished, it will be one of the largest freestanding bronze sculptures in the world — 365 feet in length by 36 feet in width and more than 16 feet in height.

Complex history

The story of the 1889 Land Run is complex, said Bob Blackburn, executive director of the Oklahoma Historical Society.

“Transfer of land occupation and ownership is not unique to Europeans coming to America. Indian tribes fought each other, and as one tribe would grow and become more prosperous, they would expand,” Blackburn said. “Where did they get the land from? They got it from some other tribe.

“Taking land is nothing new in history. What's new is you get this clash of two cultures. Losing land and winning land, that's history. Is it right or wrong? That's one person's judgment.

“One person will see (the land run) as another step in becoming a state and making possible what we have today, and other people will say ‘Oh no, that was a catastrophe.'”

Conveying message

Priya Desai, an American Indian woman who helped place the skulls at the monument, said it was a peaceful, nonviolent way to convey information.

“It is a silent but powerful message which packs more of a figurative punch for intellectual thought,” Desai said.

Land Run of 1889 facts

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