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Funding issues could stall completion of American Indian museum



Since 2006, when construction began for the American Indian Cultural Center & Museum, progress has been slowed by the course of the Oklahoma River and the prospect of dammed-up state and federal funds.

Officials say AICCM construction could be delayed or even halted if more funds do not begin to flow in soon. The project has received about a third of the $150 million required for completion. But bids cannot be let for the rest of the project until funds are committed, said AICCM Director Gena Howard, who also heads the Native American Cultural and Educational Authority.

Much of the work has been done with:
" a $33 million state bond issue,
" $7 million in federal grants and
" about $3 million from Oklahoma tribes for the design phase and debt service.

The city of Oklahoma City contributed the land and a matching $5 million grant.

"Lack of funds would draw out the construction and postpone the opening date," Howard said.

The center originally was planned to open next year, but that estimate has been scrapped. "We can't predict the opening date until base funding is received," Howard said, noting that a private fund-raising campaign is in limbo until government funds are allotted.

More state-issued bonds for the project may be coming. In his Feb. 4 State of the State address, Gov. Brad Henry called for a nearly $190 million bond program, including $45 million for museum completion. 

"The Native American caucus in the Legislature has been supportive," Howard said. "And we're working with tribes on partnering in this project " a project long overdue. Oklahoma has a story to tell, and we own it. It's time for Oklahoma to own it." "Randall Turk

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