Milestone Heritage Center celebrates Shawnees’ renewed independence.
FSB has a well-earned reputation for providing beautiful facilities that reflect the unique culture of many of Oklahoma’s Native American tribes. It was this reputation that led the Shawnee Tribe to select FSB for assistance in co-creating their dream ─ a new tribal heritage center which would become “a place that provides an opportunity for the Shawnee People to tell our story, in our own words, to tribal members, the local community and visitors.”
The facility will be doubly special to the Shawnees, as it’s the culmination of a long and winding history which saw the tribe relocated from its ancestral home in the Ohio Valley to the state of Kansas, and later to Oklahoma, where they were officially incorporated as part of the Cherokee Indian Nation. It wasn’t until 2000 that the United States Congress officially restored the Shawnee Tribe to its original status as a separate and sovereign Indian nation. Construction of this new heritage center will be a major milestone for the tribe in the restoration and promotion of their unique culture to tribal members and the broader community, as well as providing an archive to store and preserve historical documents and artifacts.
To kick-start the project, FSB conducted an interactive workshop with key members of the tribe in order to obtain a broad outline and vision, encompassing the desired elements of the center and the important symbolism to include within its walls. Additional workshops and conversations with Shawnee leaders further coalesced their wishes for the new facility.
A gallery/exhibit area, large and small viewing rooms, a catering kitchen, gift shop, classrooms and administrative space are planned, along with areas for storing and preserving artifacts. Visitor traffic flow through the center will be counter-clockwise, in keeping with Shawnee tradition. With a convenient and high-visibility site location just south of the Missouri/Kansas border, adjacent to a State of Oklahoma Welcome Center, visitors also will be able to park and easily visit the Heritage Center without paying to exit the turnpike.
Finalization of plans for the Shawnee Heritage Center is ongoing, through collaborative efforts between tribal leaders and the FSB team to implement and direct the design strategy.