Culture

Abounding Diversity That Strengthens Our State

In the state once known as Indian Territory, Oklahoma’s tribal cultures are a timeless, priceless asset. The tribes who make their headquarters here have helped propel a genuine revival in the legacies, traditions and history surrounding these cultures. It’s taught in heritage centers, displayed in museums, recreated in traditional villages, enjoyed in art, revered in powwows and celebrated in festivals.

There are many things that make Oklahoma unique, but the one thing I hear in my travels all across the country and around the world is, everybody wants to know about the history and heritage of our Native American people.

Brad Henry
Governor
State of Oklahoma (2003-2011)
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The Economic Impact of Tribal Nations in Oklahoma Fiscal Year 2017

Oklahoma Tribal Nations are major drivers of Oklahoma’s overall economy, ranking as a Top 10 industry.

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Arts & Attractions

For some, it’s a way to reconnect with a long-forgotten heritage. For others, it’s a place to observe, learn and absorb. From museums and cultural centers to galleries and trading posts, Oklahoma tribes offer a variety of cultural destinations that attract travelers and locals alike. Each has a unique story to share and all are showcasing centuries of traditions and contributions.

Festivals & Events

Tourists have long been drawn to authentic native customs like powwows. To outsiders, the dancing reflects a joyful celebration. But to the Native American dancers, there is deep meaning and significance in the movement, music and regalia. Many Oklahoma tribes host festivities that invite the public inside for a glimpse of life where people meet, dance, sing, socialize and honor tribal traditions. More cultural events across the state include heritage days and other celebrations that pay homage to an unconquerable spirit.

The tribes provide great cultural tourism in our state. Sometimes because we’re close to the tribal influence here, we forget how fascinating and enriching our cultural traditions the tribes have been. People come here from around the world and around the country to learn more about tribal customs.

Alison Anthony
President and CEO
Tulsa Area United Way
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American Indian Cultural Center

Opening in 2021, this 125,000-square-foot museum will encompass 300 acres at the crossroads of America — the intersection of I-35 and I-40 in Oklahoma City. The American Indian Cultural Center will be a must-stop attraction that introduces visitors to the tribes of Oklahoma and the languages, arts, dance, music, literature, crafts and other traditions that are thriving in Indian communities throughout the state today.

[The American Indian Cultural Center and Museum] will be one of the most significant cultural institutions to open in the next decade.

Kevin Gover
Director
Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian
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