Attracting Indian related tourism to Tulsa
Thursday, July 24th 2003, 12:00 am
By: News On 6
A plan to attract Indian related tourism is a $2 million item in Tulsa's Vision package.
Supporters say a $2 million public investment would support a $40 million private investment. News on 6 reporter Emory Bryan has the story.
Itâ€™s as pristine a piece of land as there is left in the city of Tulsa - a place where red-tailed hawks ride the wind above. The city once used it for a wood-chipping site - now it's just a driveway to a sludge dump. But a 40-acre section along the Arkansas River near 7100 South Elwood might become the site of the National Indian Monument and Institute.
Wendy Ponca is a director of the non-profit group hoping to build here. â€œThe first phase will be the cultural center which will have a really nice glass openings on it, five stories up looking over the river.â€ It's an ambitious plan for a cultural center, museum and performance hall that would showcase Indian art and history - and serve as an educational tourist attraction. Building all of it would cost an estimated $40 million - but the Vision plan contains just $2 million for the project.
The Riverparks authority leased the land to the National Indian Monument and Institute for $1 a year. The Vision project money - $2 million - would be used to build utility lines and a road onto the property. They'll seek the rest of their funding from private sources. â€œThere's not a facility like this here because when the tribes get money they take it to their homes like Pawhuska, Muskogee or Tahlequah, so that leaves the urban Indians out.â€
Ponca says there is support among the tribes and from corporate donors for the project - and plenty of demand for Indian related tourist attractions. She says her group is ready - if Tulsa county voters will support it with the Vision project.
The supporters of the Indian monument say they will build it regardless, but that the $2 million from the Vision package will demonstrate public support and encourage private investment.