Red Earth Treefest moves to OSU-OKC Student Center; Celebrates the holidays with a Native twist

Posted by Eric Oesch on 11/12/2019

OKLAHOMA CITY, OK – The Red Earth Art Center has partnered with Oklahoma State University-Oklahoma City to celebrate the holiday season with a distinctive Native flair during Red Earth Treefest scheduled for a nine-day run, Dec. 5-13, at the Student Center on the university’s campus, 900 N Portland Ave.  

            Red Earth Treefest features 18 Tribes from throughout Oklahoma invited to participate in the annual holiday event by creating handmade ornaments and art objects made to highlight their distinctive cultures. The exhibition highlights the diverse cultures that make Oklahoma Unique.

            Treefest is Red Earth Art Center’s Holiday gift to the state. The organization uses the ornaments on the Christmas Trees to educate about Oklahoma tribal cultures.

           Handcrafted ornaments and art objects on the Christmas trees are as diverse as the tribes of Oklahoma. Birch bark canoes adorn the Citizen Potawatomi purple-clad tree synonymous with their Great Lakes culture, while intricately painted ponies are featured on the Comanche tree to celebrate their legacy as the “Lords of the Plains.”

            Oklahoma Native Tribes participating in the 2019 Treefest include the Absentee Shawnee, Caddo, Cherokee, Cheyenne & Arapaho, Chickasaw, Choctaw, Citizen Potawatomi, Comanche, Delaware, Kaw, Muscogee (Creek), Osage, Seminole, Otoe Missouria, Ponca and Pawnee. Each tribal organization has been hard at work for several months creating their handmade ornaments with exhibit copy explaining how select ornaments tell their cultural story.   

OSU-OKC President Brad Williams said the campus community eagerly awaits the arrival of this year’s trees.

“We are honored to host this year’s Red Earth Treefest event,” Williams said. “It is a brilliant display of tribal culture and creativity, and we hope many members of the community will visit the campus to experience this display.”

Thirty-nine Native tribes are headquartered in Oklahoma, giving the state more tribal headquarters than any other. Nearly every Oklahoma tribe has homelands in other parts of the country – from the Pacific Northwest to the Florida Everglades – creating a diverse tribal palette unique to Oklahoma. 

            Additional trees include the Red Earth docent tree with hundreds of handmade art objects including beaded corn, dreamcatchers, mini tipis, drums and parfleche bag. And, trees featuring ornaments created by many of the tribal participants will offer ornaments for sale.  

             “We are happy to carry on this Holiday tradition for the people of Oklahoma, and are thrilled with the opportunity to work with OSU-OKC,” said Paula Cagigal, president Red Earth Board of Directors. “I know our guests and the students on campus will thoroughly enjoy our beautiful display of trees adorned with handmade art objects that represent our tribal cultures so well.”

            The Fifth Annual Red Earth Treefest is presented free to the public 9 -4 pm weekdays Dec 5-13. A special Open House is scheduled Saturday, Dec. 7 from 10 - 3 p.m. with hot wassail, holiday treats and Christmas shopping. Treefest is closed Sunday, Dec. 8. The display will be located on the second and third floors of the OSU-OKC Student Center.

Red Earth, Inc. is a 501 (c) 3 non-profit organization with a mission to promote the rich traditions of American Indian arts and cultures through education, a premier festival, a museum and fine art markets. The organization is an Allied Arts member agency and AdventureRoad Travel Partner. Red Earth is funded in part by the Chickasaw Nation, Choctaw Nation, Oklahoma Arts Council, National Endowment for the Arts, James H & Madalynne Norick Foundation, Kirkpatrick Family Fund, Oklahoma’s News 4 and Oklahoma State University-Oklahoma City.

Red Earth, Inc. produces the annual Red Earth Festival, and is recognized as the region’s premier organization for advancing the understanding and continuation of Native American traditional and contemporary culture and arts. 

The Red Earth Art Center hosts a diverse and changing schedule of art and historical exhibitions at locations throughout Oklahoma until its new home opens in the BancFirst Tower in 2021. The organization is custodian to a permanent collection of more than 1,000 items of fine art, pottery, basketry, textiles and beadwork.

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The Oklahoma Arts Council is the official state agency for the support and development of the arts. The Council’s mission is to lead, cultivate and support a thriving arts environment, which is essential to quality of life, education and economic vitality for all Oklahomans. The Council organizes professional development opportunities for the state’s arts and cultural industry, and manages hundreds of works of art in the public spaces of the state Capitol. For more information, visit arts.ok.gov.