Back Forward: The First Americans Museum

5 minutes
Olivia McCourry is Oklahoma Today's summer intern. In Back Forward, she is exploring Oklahoma's past and how it relates to the future.
First Americans Museum. Photo by Lori Duckworth

First Americans Museum. Photo by Lori Duckworth

Rebranded as the First Americans Museum, the project intends to showcase different cultural aspects of thirty-nine tribal nations in Oklahoma. In two months, the center will be opening its doors to introduce new cultural exhibitions to downtown Oklahoma City. The center recognizes that only a few of the tribes originated in the state. Most were removed from their homes in other parts of the nation in order to separate them from the American colonists. The overall goal is to promote the values of respect, reciprocity, relationships, and responsibility according to their website. This will guide the mission going forward by educating the public about First American history and show their resiliency in communities today. This museum will provide a major impact on the telling of the story of the First American people and begin a conversation about the people’s land we reside on. Through history, cultural artifacts, dance, and cultural exhibitions First American’s history will be told in a truthful and interactive manner.

The museum experience will take visitors through two galleries and a Family Discovery Center. The Tribal Nations Gallery, which will feature the exhibit Okla Homma, will focus on the collective stories of the thirty-nine tribal nations and their removal to Oklahoma. The gallery will use multimedia tools to highlight origins and historical accounts. Many of the cultural aspects of the tribes will be shown through sports, games, and the role warriors play in communities. The Mezzanine Gallery will showcase approximately a hundred and forty objects on a long-term loan from the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of the American Indian. These items were collected in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries from tribes in Oklahoma. The goal of this exhibit is to highlight material culture from the thirty-nine tribal nations and many will even be reunited with the descendant family members of the original makers. Lastly, the Family Discovery Center allows museum goers to walk through an exhibition structured as a pop up book world. Cultural values will be emphasized as animal guides lead viewers throughout the exhibit. There will also be a combination of hands-on activities and interactives to remind us that we are all connected in some way.

There will also be a number of different programs and events hosted at the museum, such as guided tours, music events, and festivals. Accommodations include The FAM Theater, which will put on theatrical productions, film and video presentations, and live dance and music concerts. The smaller Xchange Theater will be a venue where visitors can watch demonstrations and performances. It will even serve as a pre-function space for special evening events. The museum will also provide Native inspired recipes at both the sit-down restaurant and coffee shop located inside. A museum store will be housed for visitors looking for handmade souvenirs to commemorate their time spent at the center.

With the amount of exhibits and accommodations listed there is surely something to interest everyone. The museum will give visitors an educational experience that is as interactive as possible in more ways than one.Visitors can explore the hundred and seventy-five thousand square foot museum and its broad and dynamic cultural exhibitions starting September 18 with the center’s grand opening. Starting then, the First Americans Museum provides a start to a national conversation of the people that were here before us and the land we live on. Volunteering opportunities include hospitality workers, help at the visit information desk, customer service, and docent applications.

The museum is located in the Crossroads of America at 659 First Americans Boulevard, Oklahoma City, OK, 73129. Tickets, $5-$15. Mon-Fri, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and closed Tuesday. Sat-Sun, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. (405) 594-2100 or famok.org

Written By
Olivia McCourry

Olivia McCourry
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