The Shawnee Tribe Cultural Center is Oklahoma’s newest Route 66 attraction. The Center is a self-guided museum featuring rotating and permanent exhibits. Dedicated to sharing Shawnee culture, the center hosts a variety of events that allow visitors to take part in, and experience, this vibrant heritage.
The Center’s mission is to provide a place for Shawnees to tell the story of their past, how that past informs and shapes Shawnees today, and who they see themselves becoming tomorrow. Check the Center’s schedule of events for upcoming classes, like water drum making. Water drums are unique to the Shawnee Tribe, and are one of the primary instruments used in worship at Shawnee ceremonial grounds.
Through interactive exhibits like the Shawnee Tribe Cultural Center Permanent Exhibit, visitors can listen to stories of the past, learn about traditions, and help envision the tribe’s future. The exhibit visually tells the story of the Shawnee people through objects that represent essential aspects of Shawnee life—both today and throughout history. In the gallery, the installation displays no written information. Shawnee language, like many indigenous languages, is not traditionally a written language. History and ways of life are deeply rooted in oral tradition, with knowledge being shared and sustained from one generation to the next.
While much has been written about Shawnee culture, a considerable amount of the information is incomplete. From sacred ceremonies to family stories, the permanent exhibit supports Shawnee people in telling their own story. It invites conversation and investigations about Shawnee culture, with consideration for different ways of learning, sharing, and preserving.
The Shawnee Tribe Cultural Center also features work by tribal artists, like that of Shawnee artist Gibson Byrd, who was a lifelong artist and educator. To honor his passion for art and teaching, interactive art exploration activities accompany the display. Past shows include “From Ancient Hands,” the center’s inaugural, award-winning exhibition featuring historic Shawnee pottery as well as contemporary pottery made in partnership with community members as well as scholars and scientists.