First Americans Museum Opens After Decades in the Making

Beverly Cantrell - September 20, 2021 6:51 am

First American Museum-OKC

Oklahoma City- News 25

Saturday was the opening ceremony for the First Americans Museum at 659 First Americans Blvd. in Oklahoma City.

For many this has been a project decades in the making, finally becoming a reality.

From grass and dirt to the beautiful museum it is today, this didn’t happen overnight.

Construction here started 15 years ago, there’s been name changes, funding shortages, and work stoppages, but the idea of having a world-class destination that honors the first peoples of America has never changed.

“Just like our native peoples we’ve gone through some trials and tribulations,” said James Pepper Henry, Director & CEO – First Americans Museum.

It’s been a challenge to make today a reality.

Many echoed that sentiment Saturday morning.

But some of today’s speakers say that the wait actually worked in their favor.

“It used to be 25, 30 years ago that Native Americans were not considered to have any type of authority even in their own cultures being represented in museums. Native peoples are now asked to participate in the interpretation of their own cultures but still, that’s not good enough. We’ve gone a step further and we’ve taken full authority of how we’re represented in the museums,” said Pepper Henry.

The design is beautiful and elegant inside and out.

Even the design of the building inside is based on spiral Native American design. The glass prism is based on a Wichita grass lodge, and it doesn’t stop there.

“The mound is an homage to spiral mounds of the Caddo nation another nation that was here in the state prior to the relocation of the other tribes,” said Tony Blatt, Architect – First Americans Museum.

And this is not only a museum, not only a building but a space for the living culture of the 39 tribes of Oklahoma.

“I really think that Oklahoma City has a unique claim to be the capitol of Native America and I think this museum sort of solidifies that status,” said David Holt, Mayor – Oklahoma City. “So I think more and more people are the county and around the world will look to Oklahoma City as a place that embodies Native American indigenous culture.”

This has been a long time coming, to put every piece perfectly in its place, so when people come here they can learn what it truly means to be native.

The two-day grand opening celebration continues Sunday with more native dancers and musicians, and cultural demonstrations.


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