First Americans Museum – Everything is Connected
Vol.8 Issue 8
The First Americans Museum in Oklahoma City

November is Native American Heritage Month, and if you’re in the Oklahoma City area, there is a perfect place to immerse yourself into Native American culture – the First Americans Museum (FAM). You don’t have to fly to Washington, DC to observe many Smithsonian artifacts, because after 100 years, they’ve been returned to Oklahoma; where many of them were re-introduced to families whose ancestors originally owned them.

Oklahoma’s story began long before statehood. Only a few Tribal Nations are indigenous to what is now the State of Oklahoma. All others were removed from homelands across the contiguous United States relocated to "Indian Territory." In 1907, Oklahoma became the 46th state to enter the union. The state’s name comes from two Choctaw words, "Okla" and "Homma," meaning land of the red people. There are 39 tribes represented in the First Americans Museum.

Absentee Shawnee Tribe of Indians of Oklahoma
Modoc Tribe
Alabama-Quassarte Tribal Town
Muscogee Nation
Apache Tribe of Oklahoma
Osage Nation
Caddo Nation
Otoe-Missouria Tribe
Cherokee Nation
Ottawa Tribe
Cheyenne & Arapaho Tribes
Pawnee Nation of Oklahoma
Chickasaw Nation
Peoria Tribe of Indians of Oklahoma
Choctaw Nation
Ponca Tribe of Indians of Oklahoma
Citizen Potawatomi Nation
Quapaw Tribe of Oklahoma
Comanche Nation
Sac & Fox Nation
Delaware Nation
Seminole Nation of Oklahoma
Delaware Tribe of Indians
Seneca-Cayuga Tribe
Eastern Shawnee Tribe
Shawnee Tribe
Fort Sill Apache Tribe
Thlopthlocco Tribal Town
Iowa Tribe of Oklahoma
Tonkawa Tribe
Kaw Nation of Oklahoma
United Keetoowah Band of Cherokee Indians in Oklahoma
Kialegee Tribal Town
Wichita and Affiliated Tribes
Kickapoo Tribe of Oklahoma
Wyandotte Nation
Kiowa Tribe
Yuchi Tribe of Indians (not federally recognized)
Miami Tribe of Oklahoma

The 175,000 square foot museum showcases state-of-the-art exhibitions in First American history, culture, and art. They have live performances, public and educational programs, a full-service restaurant offering Native-inspired cuisine, and a museum store featuring exclusive items created by premiere First American artists.

Hall of The People: The complex structure with its 10 vertical columns, each measuring 26 inches in diameter, were intentionally engineered to represent the estimated 10 miles a day Native people were forced to move by the U.S. military during forced removals, from their original homelands to Indian Territory, now known as Oklahoma. The Hall of The People structural steel weighs a massive 230 tons. The shortest two columns are 40’ high with two 90’ columns which weigh 32,000 lbs. or 16 tons each. The columns are bolted and welded together with 10 arching trusses. The truss is 1,208’ in length with an overall arc of 320’ that ties the tops of all the columns and trusses together.

The First Americans Museum sits on a nearly 40-Acre site along the Oklahoma River at the crossroads of America (intersections of Interstates 35, 40, 235 and 44). There is a symbolic east-to-west arrival to the campus. This acknowledges that many First American doorways in cultural communities face eastward, greeting the new day.

FAM commemorates and honors the special times of equinox and solstice. The east facing Remembrance Walls align with the sunrise of the March (Vernal) and September (Autumnal) Equinox, with the sun rising directly in the center of the stone walls. During the Summer Solstice (June 21st), the sun sets at the peak of the mound, and during Winter Solstice (December 21st) the sun sets through the tunnel, which is embedded at the base of the FAM Mound.

Everything is Connected

The FAM Mound connects our past with the present. This 21st-century FAM mound is a tribute to the many tribes in Oklahoma who descend from Mound-builder cultures or have earthen architecture as part of their cultural lifeways. The FAM mound opened in March of 2022.

The FAM Mound path intersects with the Hall of The People and three outdoor Terraces. The Moon, Sun and Stars Terraces offer an opportunity to pause and connect with the elements.

Oklahoma has a rich legacy of mound building cultures dating back to around 500 A.D. The Caddo Nation and Wichita and Affiliated Tribes have always called this place home. Archeological evidence demonstrates advanced trade networks were established with other cultural groups that spanned a large portion of the present-day United States. According to the Oklahoma Archaeological Survey, "The Spiro Mounds in eastern Oklahoma are considered one of the most important archaeological discoveries in North America."

Though the Spiro Mounds are only a short road trip away, it is exciting to have this treasure trove of Native American artifacts and educational opportunities right here in Oklahoma City. The First Americans Museum has many amenities, including: theaters; a restaurant with an indigenous menu (Regional Chef Brad Harris, and Emmy award winning Chef Loretta Barrett Oden); and a store with books and one-of-a-kind jewelry items, basketry, pottery and other Native inspired gifts.

The Oklahoma Cityscape (at right) peeks from behind the huge FAM Mound, which is 90 feet high at its peak, and is 1,000 feet in diameter (a 2/3 mile, round-trip walk). Building the mound required 45,000 semi-truckloads of earth.

The FAM also has year-round and seasonally specific cultural programming, including Ribbon Skirt Making, Do it yourself Moccasins, to Quillwork Holiday Ornaments to name a few.

Though it is best to pay a visit to this breath-taking museum in person, you can catch a glimpse of the Native American culture via their website

Among other native plants and grasses, sunflowers dry in the cold November air on top of the FAM Mound
Indigenous Brilliance – A two-story copper wall featuring a digital screen print illustration on copper by Cherokee artist Joseph Erb. Indigenous Brilliance illustrates the story of the First American people through a sequence of silhouetted figures depicting the past, present and future.
One of several top-notch exhibit areas in the First Americans Museum

Among many other authentic artifacts, a hand-crafted jacket is on display in the Mezzanine gallery
A view from inside of the Moon Terrace at FAM. This is a place to pause and look upward acknowledging our connection with the moon and lunar cycles. There are also terraces for viewing the sun and stars on the way around the FAM Mound.
First Americans Museum gift shop
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