By Phil G. Busey Sr.
Completing the American Indian Cultural Center and Museum can be a significant opportunity for Oklahoma City. The state failed continually in the oversight and development of a national tourist and economic opportunity that would make a strong statement about Oklahoma's unique blended cultural history. Finishing the center can now be a landmark event for Oklahoma City.
Focused on the past problems and costs in developing the center, the Legislature failed to see its future economic importance and cultural significance for Oklahoma. The Legislature punted the opportunity to Oklahoma City. The center remains an opportunity for Oklahoma City to act with an eye on the future, adding to its growing recognition as a destination point for visitors and businesses.
Oklahoma City through progressive leadership, MAPS, and efforts in economic development has proven it can get the job done. Oklahoma City has roots deep in a pioneer spirit of grit and determination. It has transformed itself and continues to do so. Home to the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum and other major attractions, the city can now come full circle with the completion of the American Indian Cultural Center and Museum. It would be fitting for a city founded by independent and courageous pioneers to recognize and honor the culture of the 39 federally recognized tribes and Native Americans who already called Indian Territory home. Today the tribes contribute over $12 billion to our economy and create 55,000 jobs. Oklahoma City can build bridges where the state faltered.
The AICCM can close a loop and build bridges honoring our combined history. It will add a major, nationally recognized tourist attraction and museum equaled by few. Lands surrounding the center can be developed with ideas of possibly adding a museum and monument to our Native American veterans who served in multiple wars. Tribes can be invited to invest further in the center and develop sites dedicated to their individual histories and culture. Shops and retail for art and products could be opened. Certainly hotels will be attracted. In addition, an economic corridor could be established for Native American companies and small businesses to locate in an economically beneficial business area with opportunities to grow as subcontractors and contractors at Tinker Air Force Base and beyond.