Plans Unveiled to Rename Two Tulsa Parks

LOOKING FORWARD: Present at the announcement for the Tulsa Parks renaming are, from left, Cheryl Cohenour, Greater Tulsa Area Indian Affairs Commission; Brandon Oldham Tulsa Parks Board Member; Teresa Burkett, Tulsa Parks Board Chair; Second Chief Del Beaver, Muscogee Nation; Tulsa Mayor G.T. Bynum; Joshua Starks, Veterans Chair, Human Rights Commission; Marty McKnight; Tulsa City Councilor Kara Joy McKee; Tulsa City Councilor Crista Patrick and a military veteran.

Tulsa Mayor G.T. Bynum announced the city’s plans to rename two iconic Tulsa parks at a June press conference joined by members of the Tulsa City Council, Muscogee Nation Principal Chief David Hill, and members of Tulsa’s Native American Community and Veterans Community.
The city plans to rename the current Veterans Park, located at 18th and S. Boulder Park Drive, to Dream Keepers Park, honoring Tulsa’s rich Native American history. Veterans Park will then be relocated to the current site of Centennial Park, at 1028 E. 6th Street, an area that is at the heart of local veterans’ activities and events.
“This is an opportunity to properly honor two of our most important communities in Tulsa: America’s veterans and Native Americans,” Bynum said. “Not only will the parks’ names be a way for us to show our appreciation, but we hope, in both cases, these parks become a centerpiece for cultural activities, celebrations and educational programs in the future.”
“Changing the parks’ names represents an intentional shift in focus at these public spaces. It will bring more meaning to these areas and the groups we are honoring,” District 4 City Councilor Kara Joy McKee said. “I hope these spaces inspire new ways to honor veterans and celebrate Native American culture and history for years to come.”
City officials say the new locations could provide more opportunities for large-scale events and a wide range of opportunities for the community.
“The park locations were chosen based on their proximity to other important entities within those constituent groups,” said Anna America, Chief of Culture and Recreation and Parks Director. “Dream Keepers Park is just a few hundred feet away from one of our most important Native American landmarks in the city, the Council Oak Tree. Veterans Park will be located between two of the oldest veteran’s organizations in the country – the Tulsa American Legion Post 1 and the Tulsa Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) Post 577.”
The term, “dream keepers” comes from an annual award given to citizens by the Greater Tulsa Area Indian Affairs Commission who exemplify strong character and have made a difference in their dedication to public service.
“The commission is looking forward to partnering with the city to honor and commemorate our Dream Keepers award winners through the naming of this Park,” Cheryl Cohenour, Chairwoman of, Greater Tulsa Area Indian Affairs Commission, said. “We chose the name, Dream Keepers because it is inclusive in all Tulsa-area tribes.”
Officials hope to include several public art pieces from local tribes and create a pathway that honors past recipients of the Dream Keepers Award. The City hopes to formally rename Dream Keepers Park by Native American Day in October 2021.
Several veterans’ monuments will need to be relocated. Veterans’ groups hope to have a new sign and any monuments moved into place before September 2021, which marks the 20th anniversary of the September 11 attacks. 
Local veterans’ groups will coordinate the relocation of any monuments. Joshua Starks, Veterans Chair for the City’s Human Rights Commission says the new location will improve accessibility and provide better options for properly honoring and remembering Tulsans who served in the military.
“The new Veterans Park will provide easier access to our monuments and memorials, giving them the reverence, they deserve,” Starks said. “Walking along the trail will provide citizens with a visual remembrance of the service and sacrifice of our veterans and their families.”
Following the announcement today, the mayor’s recommendation of the renaming will be sent to the Tulsa Parks Board and the Greater Tulsa Area Indian Affairs Commission this summer before going to the City Council for formal approval.