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1

Museum Exterior

Wichita Tribal History Center Officially Opens (From May 2018 issue of Wichita Tribal News)

 

Rain could not keep tribal members, area residents and out-of-town guests away from the grand opening of the Wichita Tribal History Center on April 21, 2018.

 

At least 78 people filled the entrance way to hear opening remarks from the center's director, Dr. Timothy Baugh, and Wichita cultural planner, Gary McAdams. Those present also had the chance to hear ten-year-old Hayden Hill give a prayer in the Wichita language. The prayer Hill used had been taught to her by Doris Jean Lamar McLemore, the last fluent speaker of the Wichita language.

 

The reason for selecting Hill to give the prayer, McAdams said, was based in part on an oral history he read by the late tribal member Ethel Wheeler. He said that whenever Wheeler had trouble getting her garden to grow, she would have her grandchildren plant the seeds for her.

 

"That's the reason why I wanted Hayden here to offer that prayer for us," McAdams said, "so that the things we do here turn out to be good, the way we want them to."

 

Afterward, special guests were announced that include Wichita and Affiliated Tribes Vice-President Jesse Jones; Wichita Executive Committee members Shirley Davilla and Matt Roberson; District 56 State Representative David Perryman; Anadarko Chamber of Commerce executive director David Scott; Anadarko Mayor Kyle Eastwood; and Anadarko Vice-Mayor Tanner Salyer. In addition to theWichita Tribal News, the opening was also covered by theCheyenne & Arapaho Tribal Tribune.

 

Following a ribbon cutting by Davilla and Jones, the crowd heard the voice of McLemore, who greeted everyone in attendance through the center's introductory film. This film gives visitors an overview of Wichita history and culture to the present day.

 

After a short time, the museum's first patrons slowly began making their way through the spiral path of exhibits that tell the story of the Kitikiti'sh people. Items in the gallery section include panels that give details on Wichita culture and history, as well as displays of cultural items. The centerpiece of the circular exhibit is the frame of a Wichita grass lodge.

 

"I think the Wichita have done an excellent job putting together this facility," said Scott, who is also a Choctaw Nation member. "I think it will be a great resource not only for their tribe, but also for Anadarko as a community and our tourism."

 

According to WEC member Roberson, "it's a very needed opportunity to tell our story," he said. "We've been here since time began. A lot of people don't know that, especially in our home state. There's so many other tribes, but nobody's been able to tell our story. Who better to do that than ourselves."

 

One of the visitors in attendance was Peggy Evans, the daughter of McLemore, to whom the center is dedicated.

 

"I think it's beautiful," Evans said. "I think you all have done a great job. It's just really pretty. Traditionally, it's the way it's supposed to be."

 

When asked byWichita Tribal Newsabout how Evans thought her mother may feel about the museum's completion, her response was positive.

 

"She would be thrilled," Evans said. "This was her dream, and it's come true."

 

The WTHC hours of operation are 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Monday-Friday. Special arrangements for school visits, group tours and Saturday group visits are conducted by appointment.

 

For more information on the center, please contact the administration offices at 405-247-2425.