WYANDOTTE, Okla. — The Wyandotte Nation broke ground on its new Cultural Center Friday, Sept. 11. The Cultural Center will be located near the Bearskin Healthcare & Wellness Center and Lost Creek Recycling Center.
“The Wyandotte Cultural Center will offer a world of opportunity to learn and connect with Wyandotte history,” said Wyandotte Nation Chief Billy Friend. “It will give our Wyandotte citizens the opportunity to walk through our past and look to our future – all in one unforgettable experience.”
The 7,625-square foot Cultural Center will feature a museum, classrooms, a multipurpose room, gift shop, and Tribal Heritage Department offices. It will play host to language and arts and crafts classes as well as be the site for the annual ‘Gathering,’ which took place this week leading up to the 26th Annual Wyandotte Nation Pow-Wow.
The $1,687,000 project is expected to be completed in 190 days. Part of the funding for the project came from an Indian Community Development Block Grant (ICDBG) while the rest of the funding came from economic development provided by the Nation’s federally-chartered corporation, Wyandotte Tribe of Oklahoma (WTOK).
“This center will give the opportunity for our citizens to walk through our past, and to know what it is, and learn what it is to be Wyandotte. From beginning in Canada, coming through Michigan to Ohio to Kansas to here,” Chief Friend said. “To have that history in display form where we can teach it to our children, our grandchildren and to their grandchildren — seven generations in the future will have a better knowledge of who we are than what some of us did when we were younger. It’s a very momentous occasion for us today.”
On hand for the ceremony were tribal citizens, the Wyandotte Nation Board of Directors, the Second Chief and the Wyandotte Nation Culture Committee members as well as Thomas Boxley, the architect for the project, and Crossland Construction representative, who will handle the general contracting. Crossland Construction most recently worked on the renovation and expansion on the Wyandotte Nation Casino project.
“It’s a huge day for us. We’ve been waiting for this… for years,” said Wyandotte Nation Culture Committee Chair Lloyd Divine. “It’s going to be a nice landmark, a nice place where we can all come together. We need to take this and pass it on to our kids, so our kids will let the Wyandottes forever live on. That’s what it is about.
“I like what Sherri (Clemons) said in our very first culture committee meeting, she made the little phrase, ‘preserving the future of our past.’ The phrase expresses the very essence of why we do what we do.”
Following the groundbreaking ceremony, a special gift was presented to Chief Friend and Second Chief Norman Hildebrand to mark the occasion and eventually be displayed at the new Cultural Center.
Cultural Committee member Deryl Wright, who is a knife maker, presented a knife with the engravings of Chief Friend and Second Chief Hildebrand on one side, and on the other side, Chief Leaford Bearskin, Tribal Heritage Director Sherri Clemons and the Wyandotte Nation Culture Committee.
The Wyandotte Nation Culture Committee consists of Divine, David Culver, Jan Graham, Loretta Combes, Debbie Dry, Marilyn Young, and Wright.
Wright said it honors the past while also looking at the future, adding that he hoped the knife would represent this day and this time for everyone.
About the Wyandotte Nation
The Wyandotte Nation is a federally recognized Native American tribe headquartered in Northeast Oklahoma. The Tribe has 5,722 tribal citizens nationwide.
The Tribe was instrumental in the founding of Detroit, Mich., and Kansas City, Kansas. At one time Kansas City was named Wyandotte City. Counties named ‘Wyandotte’ exist in Michigan, Ohio and Kansas.
The Tribe provides education, housing services, economic development, environmental protection, tribal vehicle tags, and health and human services for Tribal Citizens. The Tribe operates its own Tribal Police Department and Tribal Court, the Bearskin Healthcare & Wellness Center, and the Lost Creek Recycling Center.
The Wyandotte Nation’s federally chartered corporation, Wyandotte Tribe of Oklahoma (WTOK), drives economic development for the Tribe. WTOK operates truck stops, casinos, a SONIC Drive-In, and telecommunication and data services.
About Crossland Construction Company, Inc.
Crossland Construction Company, Inc. is a leader in the construction industry, providing a wide-range of services including general contracting, pre-construction, construction management, design-build delivery, sustainable/LEED expertise, and more. Crossland is among the nation’s top general contractors.
For more information: www.crosslandconstruction.com