News 9 got an exclusive look inside the First Americans Museum in Oklahoma City. The much-anticipated center is set to open to the public the weekend of September 18.
The First Americans Museum or FAM has been nearly three decades in the works. Staff gave a tour on Monday of the 175,000 square-foot facility.
The centerpiece and most spectacular visual of the First Americans Museum are what will greet visitors.
“We are standing in the ‘Hall of the People,’ and this is our grand entry when you enter the museum,” said James Pepper Henry, FAM CEO and director.
Pepper Henry explained the design is based on a traditional Wichita lodge and indigenous tribe to Oklahoma. Looking out the windows is the large earth mound that honors ancient ancestors.
“At the peak of the mound, the sun sets perfectly on the summer solstice,” said Pepper Henry.
Throughout the building are design elements that are meaningful to the 39 tribes represented in the state of Oklahoma. Their stories are told in several galleries beginning with the history of how the tribes arrived in Oklahoma.
“All the stories we are telling in our history section of the exhibition are from the first person voice,” said Pepper Henry.
The Smithsonian Museum has also loaned 140 objects that can be seen on the museum's second floor. Many of the artifacts belonged to Oklahoma families, generations ago.
Visitors will be able to take in the visuals, try Native American cuisine in the restaurant and visit one of two theaters beginning on Sept. 18 and 19. The museum staff expects thousands of visitors to walk through the doors opening weekend.
“I want people to know we’re still here,” said Pepper Henry. “Our tribes are vibrant; our culture is vibrant.”
Tickets for opening weekend are on sale for $5. There will be native dancers outside and entertainment for all ages.