First Americans Museum Opens This Weekend!

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First Americans Museum

First Americans Museum entrance at dawn, featuring “Touch to Above,” a steel sculpture by Bill and Demos Glass (both Cherokee Nation). Photo: Ann Sherman, annshermanphoto.com.

After decades of planning, challenges, and changes, First Americans Museum (FAM) opens this weekend, Sept. 18 and 19, in Oklahoma City, with music, poetry, dance, and much more.

FAM is a magnificent 175,000 square-foot museum focused on the cultures, histories, and current stories of Oklahoma’s Native peoples. Executive Director James Pepper Henry (Kaw/Muscogee) leads the museum’s all-Native curatorial team and primarily Native staff.

First Americans Museum

FAM’s all–Native American curatorial team developed exhibitions in consultation with tribes and community members, such as Path of Warriors which honors veterans historic and living. Photo: Ann Sherman, annshermanphoto.com.

Saturday’s opening ceremonies begin with a procession of representatives from all of Oklahoma’s 39 tribes — 38 federally recognized nations and the Yuchi people. Remarks from tribal, state, and museum leaders conclude with a reading by US Poet Laureate Joy Harjo (Mvskoke). Then the festivities begin: Harjo is among the singers, dancers, storytellers, and artists who will perform on the massive Festival Plaza on Saturday. Sunday also offers a roster of well-known Indigenous entertainers, including Pawnee/Choctaw rappers Li’l Mike and Funny Bone of Hulu’s Reservation Dogs.

Dance performances, field games, a fashion show, artist talks, demonstrations, and more take place throughout the museum’s campus on both days. In the main building, visitors will be the first to experience large-scale commissioned artworks, interactive exhibitions, and Winiko: Life of an Object, a carefully curated collection of items from the National Museum of the American Indian (NMAI), Smithsonian Institute in Washington, DC.

First Americans Museum

The FAM Store will showcase art by Native artists from Oklahoma and across the nation. Photo: Ann Sherman, annshermanphoto.com.

The FAM Store will offer exclusive artwork created by Native artists from Oklahoma and across the nation for purchase. A variety of local food trucks will be on the Festival Plaza, and the FAM sit-down restaurant and grab-and-go café will be open and serving Indigenous cuisine.

First American Art Magazine is proud to be the media sponsor of FAM’s opening. Look for our table at the Xchange Theater with free stickers, bookmarks, and current and back issues to take home and share.

A limited number of timed tickets can still be purchased for $5 on the FAM website, www.famok.org. Pandemic precautions, parking instructions, and other information can also be found there. No onsite parking during the weekend. Saturday’s hours will be 8:00 am to 10:00 pm; Sunday’s hours will be 8:00 am to 8:00 p.m.

First Americans Museum

View of the FAM’s Hall of the People from the mound. The glass-and-metal structure pays homage to the grass lodges of the original Indigenous peoples of Oklahoma: the Wichita and Affiliated Tribes and the Caddo Nation. Photo: Ann Sherman, annshermanphoto.com.

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