One thing that didn’t get accomplished during the so-called Oklahoma City Renaissance was the completion of the American Indian Cultural Center and Museum near the nation’s crossroads of Interstates 35 and 40.
— KFOR (@kfor) March 15, 2016
The unfinished center has become a symbol of a loss of political will and even injustice perpetuated by those state politicians and legislators who stopped funding its completion in 2012.
But that could be changing. After its initial, formal conception in the state legislature some two decades ago, the AICCM is finally getting the final push of funding it needs from Oklahoma City and the Chickasaw Nation, officials recently announced.
Under the new plan, Oklahoma City and the Chickasaw Nation will partner to finish the center, which needs $65 million to complete. The money needed to finish the center will come from a state bond issue, private donations and the city itself. The Chickasaw Nation, according to news reports, has promised to fund any gap in construction costs and will also provide operating money for several years to ensure the center remains open and functioning.
The Chickasaw Nation’s involvement became the last crucial step to make the AICCM a reality.
I have long argued the larger case for the importance of the center, which is being built on Smithsonian standards. The center is sure to become a destination spot for people from around the world, including scholars, artists, educator and students, and will ultimately pay for itself in tourist dollars and other economic development. It also honors the contributions of the American Indian community here in Oklahoma and serves as a small but important reparations gesture for the historical mistreatment of indigenous people in this country.
— Potus Geeks (@Potus_Geeks) March 15, 2016
The Indian Removal Act of 1930, supported by then President Andrew Jackson, eventually removed several Indian nations, including the Chickasaws, from their lands in the southeastern United States and relocated them to what became the state of Oklahoma. Known as the Trail of Tears, thousands of American Indians lost their lives during forced walks here. The removal of the Indian nations allowed an influx of white “settlers” in the south so they could grow cotton.
U.S. Sen. James Lankford recently proposed legislation to remove Jackson’s image from the twenty-dollar bill in U.S. currency because of his major role in the institutionalized mistreatment of American Indians during his tenure as president.
The completion of the AICCM and the removal of Jackson from the twenty-dollar bill won’t erase the past, of course, but they both are forms of reconciliation and show historical insight and visionary, futuristic planning.