OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) -- Construction on a planned $110 million American Indian Cultural Center will begin this fall, promoters said.
A consortium of tribes agreed to contribute $5 million needed to trigger pledged funding from Oklahoma City, the Oklahoma Legislature and Congress, said Tommy Thompson, director of the Native American Cultural and Educational Authority. The money from the tribes will pay for the first three years of payments for $33 million in state bond financing.
State bond oversight commissioners and the Capitol Improvement Authority approved the funding, allowing the authority to sell bonds this summer, Thompson said.
It also releases 300 acres of land Oklahoma City had planned for the center along the Oklahoma River and allow the authority to use at least $50 million already approved for usage on the first phase of construction on the center.
Thompson said a workshop is planned this month to begin the next design phase. He said the Oklahoma Centennial Commission would like the center to open in 2006, but a mid-2007 opening is more likely.
Chickasaw Nation Gov. Bill Anoatubby, who heads the project, also led the effort to gain the needed contributions from other tribes.
"We have had excellent support from the tribes," Anoatubby said. "Tribal leaders recognize that this world-class facility will be a national and international destination point that will not only be a tremendous economic boon for the state, but will also provide a great venue to educate and inform visitors."
The concept for the center originated more than 20 years ago.
"This will be a destination point," Thompson said. "When people come to America, they want to see the Statue of Liberty, the nation's Capitol and then they want to see Indians.
"This will be the main attraction for Oklahoma for years to come."