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Chickasaw Nation offers to help finish, operate American Indian Cultural Center

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OKLAHOMA - The American Indian Cultural Center and Museum received a proposal from the Chickasaw Nation on Tuesday that could finally complete the construction project.

Since 1994, dreams have been big for the center.

"It's truly a unique facility, something that the United States doesn't even have right now," said Sen. Kyle Loveless. "You can come to one place, study and find the story of all Oklahoma tribes."

Disappointingly, those stories are not being told there right now.

Even a decade after its groundbreaking, the center still sits vacant.

"It's disappointing that it's been dormant for a few years," said City Manager Jim Couch.

While there has been no construction for some time, it is still costing the state about $5 million a year for maintenance and security.

It is still going to cost about $75 million to complete the project and then an estimated $2 million annually to operate the museum.

Now, there is a light at the end of the tunnel thanks to the Chickasaw Nation.

The tribe is offering to contribute $14 million over seven years to help cover operation shortfalls.

The Chickasaws also said they will underwrite a portion of the cost to complete the center.

"I don't know if we would have been able to go forward with the project," Couch said. "This kind of changes everything with the Chickasaw's stepping up."

State and city leaders said this is a prime example of the Oklahoma Standard, and they are looking forward to what is in store for the tourist attraction.

"Estimates have shown that this project will generate $4 billion dollars in economic development over 20 years," Loveless said. "I've always said it's expensive but, in the long run, it will definitely be worth it both culturally and fiscally."

The Chickasaw Nation also wants to operate the center and develop the land around it.

 A deadline of January 29th has been set to work out the details of the agreement.