Symbolism: Circularity, Color, Relationship to Tribes and Heart of Indian Country
Symbols and stories are woven into traditional baskets, beadwork and other cultural materials, revealing the essence of Native cultures. Similarly, the identity of The American Indian Cultural Center and Museum is also embedded with symbolic meanings that express our relationship to the tribes and to nature. You are invited to learn why circularity, the color palette and our relationship to the tribes help define our place in the Heart of Indian Country.
"Cycles" and "Circularity of life" are abundant in nature, seen in the earth, moon and sun. The cyclical aspect of the seasons, planets in orbit, and life itself are represented in the circle. Circular formations are often found in American Indian social and ceremonial activities that take place in circular arenas.You will notice the circle is intentionally open looking out to the world that surrounds it. This metaphor communicates The Center is a living-breathing place reflecting the history of tribal nations, while relating to the world today and in the future. A graphic identity is like meeting someone for the first time; typically you shake hands, introduce yourself and share something personal or meaningful. Our logo serves as our iconic handshake communicating who we are and encouraging conversation and a new relationship.
The color palette metaphorically references aspects found in nature. Blue is emblematic of the sky so it maintains prominence at the top. Yellow is symbolic of the sun and is intentionally situated on the East and West sides of the circle, referencing the rising and setting of the sun and it serves as a visual reminder that the architecture itself aligns with the equinoxes. Many Native cultural ceremonies and social activities are situated with their doorways opening to the East. Red is symbolic of the iron-rich Oklahoma earth and is primarily positioned on the bottom of the circle. A fourth element, air, is expressed in the negative space between sections of the circle and within the Circle itself. The colors are metaphorical rather than representative. The vivid shades communicate the resiliency and vibrancy of American Indian cultures today.
The graphic identity elevates Native values and emphasizes important attributes that characterize the heart and soul of The Center. Our desire is for the identity to communicate our commitment to authenticity and innovation, while providing emotionally engaging personal experiences for all who interact with us.
The American Indian Cultural Center and Museum is a dynamic community gathering place showcasing new ways of exploring Native Culture and history by presenting and interpreting stories, customs and arts, from the traditional to the contemporary.
Relationship to Tribes
The radiant symbol has always been a powerful visual element because it quickly communicates the important relationship between The Center and tribes. Each line visually indicates the location of the 39 tribes throughout the State of Oklahoma. For Native people this is extremely important because it conveys how their culture and tribal location fit in context with The American Indian Center.
One may notice there are only 29 actual lines. This is due to the fact that some of the tribes are located in such close proximity that it would have been impossible to represent each with an individual line. Developing a visual icon relevant and authentic to so many distinct tribes was challenging because each culture has different interpretations associated with color and design.
Even the state's name is comprised of two Choctaw words "Okla" and "Humma" meaning "Red People." For thousands of years, Native people have considered this to be "Indian Country." At one time there were over 67 tribes with a historic relationship to Oklahoma. Today, 39 tribes are located in Oklahoma, contributing positively to Oklahoma's cultural fabric and economy. If you were to travel all over Europe you would not find as many different languages and cultures as are present in the State of Oklahoma.
Heart of Indian Country
"Heart of Indian Country" further defines The Center as a resource both in Oklahoma and about Oklahoma. It also makes an important connection between American Indian values and beliefs and The Center's mission. In American Indian ceremonial and social gatherings the drum is often referred to as the "heartbeat of the people." The word "heart" conveys how important the continuum of culture is for American Indian cultural survival.