The dirt on the new Indian Cultural Center

Tuesday, August 26th 2008, 6:59 pm
By: News 9

By Alex Cameron, NEWS 9

OKLAHOMA CITY - The state's new American Indian Cultural Center and Museum reached a milestone Tuesday. The central feature for the museum, the promontory mound, took 1.7 billion pounds of dirt to create.

It's no easy task hiking to the top of the promontory mound because it's more than a third of a mile high. With a 5% incline, the top of the mound overlooks the city and will eventually be the center's ‘Court of Nations' on the inside.

"What we're standing on is about 500,000 cubic yards of earth," Construction Manager Chris Pribil said.

Almost all of the dirt had to be trucked in, which equaled some 30,000 truckloads of soil.

"Our next steps on the promontory are to install an irrigation system, and then we're going to seed it with native grasses and irrigate it, and so it's really going to be a beautiful feature," Pribil said.

But first, local tribes were called on to dedicate the mound.

"This is the completion of the first major phase of construction," said Pribil.

Mound construction is a tradition in many Native American tribes, including some in Oklahoma, and Cultural Center officials said this mound will become an iconic image for the state.

"So with this we say ‘Welcome to Oklahoma. Welcome to the center, the geographic center of the continent,'" said Gena Timberman, who works for the Native American Cultural and Education Authority.

The promontory will ultimately be just one part of the larger cultural center and museum, which is expected to bring in visitors from across the country and around the world.

"Ladies and gentlemen, the American Indian Cultural Center and Museum will again position Oklahoma, rightfully, as an epicenter for cultural exchange and a gateway destination to Oklahoma's Indian nations. We are the heart of Indian country." Timberman said,

The total project is expected to cost $150 million, about half of that has been raised.