I often feel like the little girl in Bryd Baylor’s children’s book, “I’m in Charge of Celebrations.” It is the story of a girl who shares her love for desert life through the many celebrations she creates to commemorate the human spirit. My role with the museum entails finding the joyous moments that are part of her development. My desire is to share these instances with others, so many can feel the same sense of wonder and enthusiasm that I feel along this jubilant journey. Woven together these celebrations become a part of the personality and identity of this new life that is emerging before our eyes. The American Indian Cultural Center & Museum is not simply a place ~ it is a living being that has its own life energy, identity and personality.
Recently, I had one of those incredible opportunities to hear the passionate stories shared in collaboration from many of the project family team who have contributed so much toward the distinctiveness of this new museum. Each of the design partners reflected with fondness the early years that were spent in tribal communities learning about the intricacies of American Indian cultures, so they could develop a holistic concept that would be rich in story and cultural elements. We arrive at this celebratory moment in the museum’s development with a sense of purpose, gratitude and in the spirit of collaboration. Cooperation has been an emblem of this project since its inception. This story began a long time ago when American Indian people were removed to Indian Territory. Today it is known as Oklahoma. Okla Humma in the Choctaw language means Red People. It is appropriate that she be brought to life in this special place.
In the last five years, we have celebrated a series of significant milestones beginning with the Groundblessing Ceremony on November 1, 2005 when the various communities gathered in the spirit of cooperation to bless and prepare the site with the presence of community. We began the day before sunrise, as we have done traditionally for thousands of years, lighting a new fire expressing gratitude and honoring the past, rejoicing in the present and eagerly anticipating the future.
Following the Groundblessing Cerremony, this Brownfield Site began a remarkable period of healing as the site remediation commenced. These efforts were the result of shared vision and commitment between partners such as the OERB, and Oklahoma Corporation Commission to rejuvenate the land.
We rejoiced in the completion of the Central Promontory Mound, the completion of the Visitor Center, the beginning of construction on the main gallery building spaces and most recently marveled at the moment when the Hall of the People steel was erected 90’ in the air.
It is appropriate that throughout the next year we will continue to peel back the layers revealing her unique voice and distinction as we unearth her personality and identity.
Wed, May 19, 2010
by Shoshana Wasserman