First Americans Museum: OKC Native American museum announces new name

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OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) - The City of Oklahoma City announced Thursday afternoon the former American Indian Cultural Center and Museum will now be known as the First Americans Museum.

“Our new name helps convey the institute's intention to share stories, history and cultural lifeways past present and future,” said James Pepper Henry, First Americans Museum Executive Director.

The project first broke ground in 2006, but not without controversy. Construction hit a standstill in 2012 when state funding ran out. The city took over ownership 3 years later.

“It’s been a long journey to get to where we are today,” Pepper Henry said.

“Every week somebody asks me, just a regular resident in the city, ‘Hey, what’s ever happened with that museum down there? Are they gonna open that?” said David Holt, Mayor of Oklahoma City.

A 2009 economic impact study estimates the total economic impact of the project over a 20-year period to be $3.8 billion.

Once completed, it will include a Smithsonian gallery, family center, and even dining.

“This is a $175 million dollar project. This is like putting a Smithsonian Institution right here in Oklahoma City,” Holt said.

With an official opening schedule, the institution hopes to bring awareness and understanding of the cultural diversity and history of the 39 tribal nations in Oklahoma.

“All of our roots are right here in this great state of Oklahoma and they’re deep and they’re permanent,” Bill Anoatubby, Governor of the Chickasaw Nation.

Part of the Maps 4 tax will be used for beautification near the museum at the Reno Avenue and Eastern Avenue corridor.

The museum is now set to open its doors to the public in May of 2021.

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