“A Place to Call Their Own”
Oklahoma City – The Chickasaw Nation Governor Bill Anoatubby broke recently to begin construction on two long-awaited Chickasaw Nation facilities.
Governor Bill Anoatubby was joined by several Chickasaw Nation legislators and dozens of local residents for the August 4 ceremony.
Ground was broken for a new Chickasaw Nation Community Center and a Chickasaw Senior Center at 4001 NW 39th Street. The 50-acre property, formerly owned by the Sportsman’s Club, includes a 26-acre lake, along with meadows and wooded areas.
The buildings will provide a central location in Oklahoma City where Chickasaw citizens will have a place for family reunions, community council meetings, picnics and a variety of other events.
Governor Bill Anoatubby said a Chickasaw presence has been steadily growing in the Oklahoma City metro area for years, thanks in large part to members of the Oklahoma City Chickasaw Community Council, who bring Chickasaw citizens who live in the area together for meetings and events.
“Our elders and community members needed a place to come together and call their own,” Gov. Anoatubby said. “Across the Chickasaw Nation, the Chickasaw Community Centers and Senior Centers serve as places of fellowship, festivity and activity for all of our Chickasaw citizens.
“The Chickasaw Nation is pleased to bring these vital facilities – the meeting places of our people – to Oklahoma City because it is a continuation of our mission to enhance the overall quality of life of the Chickasaw people.”
Betty Smith, one of about 3,500 Chickasaw citizens who reside in the Oklahoma City metro area, said that the new facilities will give the many Chickasaws in the area a hub to share and learn Chickasaw culture and heritage.
“This is a momentous move forward for Chickasaw citizens in the Oklahoma City area to be closer together in fellowship and build stronger ties with our tribe. Building a community center in Oklahoma City is a dream come true and I believe it will grow to become even more significant in the future than we can imagine.”
An active member of the Oklahoma City Community Council for about two decades, Mrs. Smith said the group has met in no less than six locations during that time frame.
“To have a place to call our own is just fantastic, and it’s in the heart of Oklahoma City,” she said.
Oklahoma City Chickasaw Community Center
The two-story, Adirondack-style 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 will feature a large lobby with a fireplace and a large banquet hall, which includes a multipurpose stage.
The banquet hall will accommodate 950 guests and is equipped with a state-of-the-art audio visual system.
The 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 small meeting room and a large lounge that opens to the deck and has a large expanse of glass for views of the lake. On the building’s exterior, a large porte cochère will provide shelter for arriving vehicles and is sized to accommodate a tour bus.
Chickasaw Nation OKC Senior Center
A single-story structure which mirrors the lodge architecture of the community center, the 12,000 square-foot senior center will be positioned to provide a view of the lake while dining.
The dining room has a seating capacity of about 200 guests and is served by a full commercial kitchen. A garden patio will offer seniors the opportunity to sit and take in the view of the lake.
Other spaces include: a parlor room, a craft room, an exercise room and a computer room that doubles as a safe room. The OKC Senior Center’s exterior also features a large porte cochère.
Once complete, the property will also include recreational areas and courts.
Several members of the OKC Chickasaw Community Council served on the committee to locate property, including: Betty Smith, Ira Stormy Bryant, Sharon Moore, Betty Kemp, Barbara Freeman, Gloria Factor, Robert Greenwood, Linda Zachary, Keith Pickens and Scott Factor.
Other OKC Chickasaw Projects
Since 2014, several Oklahoma City projects designed to improve access to services and increase Chickasaw presence in the area have been completed including: a new Oklahoma City Area Office, Exhibit C in Bricktown, which features Chickasaw and other Southeastern tribal art and artists and the Chickasaw Plaza along the Bricktown canal, which features a Chickasaw Warrior statue and plaques which describe Chickasaw history and culture.