OKLAHOMA CITY – The First Americans Museum is working to connect families with items on loan from the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian.

These items are going to be at the museum for 10 years. Finding the families tied to them is often a very emotional experience.

“They are reconnecting with their ancestor, they’re reconnecting to their roots,” said MaryAnn Parker, Curatorial Specialist. “Even when they come visit the galleries and it’s on the other side of the glass, you still feel that emotion.”

We can’t show you the items online or on TV because they are owned and on loan by the Smithsonian.

But visitors can get close to them in the “WINIKO:Life of an Object” exhibition inside the First Americans Museum.

It features 135 culturally significant items with ties to Oklahoma.

“A lot of these objects have not been on display before,” Parker said. “So this is the first time that they’ve ever been shown and brought back to Oklahoma since being at the Smithsonian in D.C. and New York.”

The First Americans Museum has been working with tribal communities to reunite families with the items tied to their ancestors– even if they can’t take them home. 

“Connecting those families back brings back that richness, that spirit, that traditional, traditionality they have connected to items,” said John Hamilton, Curatorial Specialist. 

This research will continue through next year.
When they’re done, the First Americans Museum will produce a book and a film, sharing the stories from it.