MuskogeePhoenix.com, Muskogee, OK

June 17, 2014

Complete Native museum


— Oklahoma legislators should live up to the state’s image of Native America by telling the history and stories of the 39 tribes in our state.

Lawmakers should fund the American Indian Cultural Center and Museum to its conclusion.

The center was conceived 20 years ago to honor Native American communities and generate state tourism revenue.

It stands $80 million from completion — a shell of its intentions sitting at the intersection of Interstates 35 and 40 in Oklahoma City.

The project so far has cost $91 million and state legislators have passed on every opportunity to fund the center to its conclusion.

It’s tragic to have the project lie fallow.

Oklahoma’s history is Native American history.

If there ever was a state that should acknowledge its Native roots, it’s Oklahoma.

Not just because the center has the potential to boost tourism.

It’s because our roots go too deep into Native culture, language and history to ignore.

Oklahomans should display immense pride in its heritage.

The center has the potential to be world-class in scope and appearance.

Right now, it is neither.

And that’s a shame.

Oklahoma has been going struggling with the economy. We are all struggling. And $80 million is a lot of taxpayer money.

But this project has been 20 years in the making and deserves to be completed.

The private sector has raised or been promised about $40 million to go toward completion.

Oklahoma legislators should find the other $40 million.

The center is too close to the heart of Oklahoma.

It must be completed.