New Chickasaw Nation Community Center, Senior Center dedicated in Oklahoma City
OKLAHOMA CITY - Governor Bill Anoatubby dedicated two new Oklahoma City facilities Aug. 25 in a milestone event.
Gov. Anoatubby was joined by more than 1,100 Chickasaw citizens, dignitaries and community members for a ribbon cutting ceremony opening the Chickasaw Nation Community Center and Chickasaw Senior Center.
The facilities are at 4001 NW 39th Street in Oklahoma City. They were dedicated to serve the area’s Chickasaw citizens and community members.
Gov. Anoatubby said the new facilities were a direct result of the growing Chickasaw presence in the Oklahoma City metro area.
“This is an important milestone for the Chickasaw Nation and for Oklahoma City,” Gov. Anoatubby said “It marks the first time we have built these types of facilities outside the Chickasaw Nation jurisdictional boundary and is another step in our journey to better serve all Chickasaws regardless of where they live.
“There is a large population of Chickasaws in the Oklahoma City area, so it is important you have a place to gather. We know there has been a need for a location such as this for Chickasaws in Oklahoma City because we have been listening.”
The buildings’ adjacent location provides a convenient central hub for Chickasaw citizens and Indian citizens to access programs and services. The complex also provides a permanent gathering space for meetings and events, which helps foster a sense of place for Chickasaws of all ages.
Gov. Anoatubby said the new facilities, along with expanded programs and services to those who live outside the tribal geographic boundaries, help fulfill the mission of the Chickasaw Nation.
“The mission of the Chickasaw Nation is to enhance the overall quality of life of the Chickasaw people and that mission is true wherever a Chickasaw lives,” Gov. Anoatubby said.
Expansion of services, he said, reflected the progress and success of Chickasaw Nation businesses during the past 30 years.
“An increase in tribal business revenue enabled us to begin funding more of our own services. That, in turn, enabled us to offer more services to Chickasaws regardless of where they live.”
Oklahoma City Chickasaw Community Center
The two-story, Adirondack-style Chickasaw Community Center building is designed to optimize the view of the large lake on the property.
The ground floor of the 21,910 square-foot building features a large lobby with a fireplace and a 450-guest banquet hall, which includes a multipurpose stage and state-of-the-art audio visual system.
The Oklahoma City Chickasaw Community Center includes a catering kitchen for large events and a family-style kitchen for smaller gatherings. Additional spaces include restrooms, an office, storage, a meeting room and a large patio area directly off the lobby.
The second floor features restrooms, a meeting room and a large lounge that opens to a deck and features a large expanse of glass for views of the lake.
On the building’s exterior, a large porte-cochere provides shelter for arriving vehicles and is sized to accommodate a tour bus.
The building is designed to serve as a location for community council meetings, picnics and family reunions, and other events for Chickasaw citizens.
More than 3,700 Chickasaw citizens live in the Oklahoma City metro area, and many are active in the Oklahoma City Community Council and Elders’ Council.
Vicki Monks, former chairperson of OKC Metro Area Community Council, said the new facilities will provide a place for Chickasaws of all ages to gather and connect with their culture.
“That’s what is going to make this council vibrant, to have those young families as well as the older people,” she said. “It’s really going to be fantastic.
“Our whole mission is to bring Chickasaws in our community together, so that we know each other. So we can become friends and family, and that’s what this new facility is going to allow.”
Chickasaw Nation OKC Senior Center
The 12,000-square-foot Chickasaw Senior Center features a 200-seat dining room and picturesque lake views. Its lodge architecture complements the community center.
The dining room is served by a full commercial kitchen. Other spaces include a parlor room, a craft room, an exercise room and a computer room that doubles as a safe room.
A garden patio offers seniors another venue to sit and take in the view of the lake.
The facility will serve as a central location for senior services for metro-area Chickasaws and Native American elders, such as a senior nutrition program. Social activities, cultural classes, Chickasaw language classes and elder wellness programs are expected to be offered.
Preserving the Land
The 50-acre property also includes recreational areas for cultural activities such as Stomp Dance and traditional games such as stickball, chunky and marbles.
Once known as the Sportsman’s Country Club, the property has a storied history. Opened in 1949, the property was a destination in for swimming, boating, fishing and duck hunting.
Chickasaw elder Stormy Bryant remembers bringing his children to the property to swim and fish when they were young.
Mr. Bryant helped identify the property as a building site for a Chickasaw Senior Center when the property became available.
“I was very interested in seeing it preserved,” he said. “It has always been a rustic place. I just feel so good about the Chickasaw Nation buying this (property) and developing it. It’s perfect for our use.”
Chickasaw citizen Ethylle Wietelman and her husband Bill, a Choctaw citizen, hope to have his mother’s 90th birthday party in the Community Center next year.
“She lives down the street and we’ve been waiting for this building to open,” Mrs. Wietelman said. “It’s just so beautiful.”
Since 2014, several Oklahoma City projects designed to improve access to services and increase Chickasaw presence in the area have been completed. These include an Oklahoma City Area Office, Exhibit C in Bricktown and the Chickasaw Plaza along the Bricktown canal, which features a Chickasaw Warrior statue and plaques which describe Chickasaw history and culture.
For more information about the Oklahoma City Community Center, call (405) 767-8937, or for more information about the Chickasaw Elder’s Program, call (580) 795-9790 or visit Chickasaw.net.