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Native American Museum

State backs creation of museum
at Butler Park to honor Native Americans

By Ruth Wright
Staff Writer

BEDFORD, Ky. (June 2004) – Plans for a Native American arts and cultural center at General Butler State Resort Park in Carrollton now have the backing of state government. Although park project was initiated in 2003 under former Kentucky Governor George Patton, its future was uncertain until this April when Gov. Ernie Fletcher signed into law House Bill 167. The legislation created the Kentucky Native American Heritage Commission, which "provides undergirding for the whole project," according to Rep. Reginald Meeks (D-42nd District) who introduced the bill to the house in January.

Native American Museum

Photo by Ruth Wright

Carroll County officials tour the site,
which was formerly Ski Butler lodge.

Among the duties of the commission is the preservation of Kentucky's Native American culture and history. A substantial part of that mission is to develop the center at General Butler. It will encompass what was once the park's ski lodge and 85 surrounding acres.
Several members of the commission, including Meeks, commission president Steve LeBoueff, treasurer Bruce Brading and Carroll County Judge-Executive Harold "Shorty" Tomlinson, met at the park in late April and again in mid-May to discuss ideas for the center. Among them were plans for an interpretive center with interactive exhibits, artifacts (both permanent and rotating), dioramas, a museum library, an art gallery, a small gift and coffee shop and a hands-on children's area.
Also discussed were ideas for outdoor areas surrounding the center, including places for performances and powwows and interpretive trails with native plants.
Education will be a big part of the center's purpose, including an accurate interpretation of the state's Native American history that will include not only exhibits at the center but also curriculum that can be used in schools, said LeBoueff.
From its meetings the commission hopes to produce drawings and plans to fit both the space at General Butler and the vision of the project, according to LeBoueff. These will include architectural renderings, a written plan and the generation of a brochure. The planning project will cost around $50,000.

Native American meeting

Photo by Ruth Wright

Commission president Steve LeBoueff
(center) meets with local officials.

LeBoueff said the commission is now on the cusp of real progress, calling its current status a "gateway" or "bottleneck," which will lead into the actual planning and implementation of the project. Area officials, including Carroll County Judge-Executive Harold "Shorty" Tomlinson, are excited about the center.
"This is another excellent attraction, not just for the state park but for our entire area," said Tomlinson, who was park manager at General Butler from 1994 to 2000.
Tomlinson is also realistic about the commission's goals, which will require plenty of funding to achieve. "Like everything, you have to seek some financial assistance," Tomlinson said.
Funding sources are still uncertain at this time, and plans will need to be firmed up before the commission can solicit sponsorship, said LeBoueff.
Parks superintendent George Ward is very interested in the project, according to Parks Department public information officer Jim Carroll, and will lend the department's technical expertise and marketing assistance when needed. That will include in-kind services. Ward, appointed to the post by Gov. Fletcher, once owned hotels in Carrollton.
"He is familiar with this area. He knows the layout, and I think that is a very positive thing," Tomlinson said.
In anticipation of the Native American center, The Circle of Wisdom Unity Conference in conjunction with the commission has planned a week of events at General Butler from Aug. 30 to Sept. 6. Diamond Brown, a Cherokee from North Carolina who teaches Native American history throughout the U.S., will appear during the festival. Other planned events are the Indian game LaCrouse, educational speeches, and Native American talent day with names like Bo Taylor, Steve Reeves, Joseph Firecrow, Marvin Redeye, and Bill Miller. "It is literally outstanding to see this much cooperation," said Brading. All proceeds from the event will go toward the Native American center.

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