Support from the Oklahoma Congressional delegation has brought the planned Native American Cultural Center and Museum a giant step closer to reality. That's according to State Senator Kelly Haney, who has been working on funding for the center since 1994.
"I'm extremely pleased that the majority of our delegation is now helping us secure federal funding. When I met with them in Washington last month, they were very excited about what this center would mean to our state and to our nation in terms of preserving Native American culture for generations to come," said Haney. "I also want to express my thanks to the center's Deputy Director, Gena Timberman. She's also been working very hard with our congressional delegation on this project."
As a result of those meetings, legislation has been filed to secure $33 million in federal funds for development and construction of the center. In addition, Senator Haney has also been raising private donations. So far Phillips Petroleum is the largest private contributor to date, presenting the center with a check for $100,000.
The $150 million world-class facility will not only give visitors a chance to learn first hand about Native American art, music, language and dance, but it will also help preserve aspects of native culture in danger of being lost forever.
"There is tremendous beauty and diversity in the cultures of the more than 39 native tribes that now call Oklahoma home. It would be a tremendous loss to our state if we fail to preserve their language, dance and music for future generations. Thanks to the support of our congressional delegation, we're going to keep them alive to be shared and enjoyed not just by our state, but by visitors from across the nation and throughout the world," noted Senator Haney. "In addition, this center will have a huge economic impact on our state, helping make Oklahoma a destination point for tourist both nationally and internationally."
The center will include a 60,000 square foot facility that will house interpretive and exhibition galleries, a three hundred-seat performance theatre and museum store. It will also include a 40,000 square foot amphitheater and Native American Festival Market Place including artists' studios and an artist village where visitors can see painters and sculptures at work.
The Native American Cultural Center and Museum complex will be located at the southeast corner of I-35 and I-40. Organizers hope to begin actual construction within the next 18 months.