planned for Butler Park
Center board shows plans,
moves closer to fundraising goal
CARROLLTON, KY. (January 2007) Creating a
Native American Center for the state of Kentucky has been a dream of
many people for some time, but the challenge of raising enough money
to do it has been a daunting task.
2007 Edition Cover.
Perhaps the biggest obstacle is the fact that there are
no federally recognized tribes in Kentucky, thus no federal funds can
be provided through grant applications. Kentucky was primarily a hunting
ground for many Native American tribes around the region, and about
20 tribes existed in the state.
A few years ago, a major step toward creating a cultural center took
place, setting in motion the current effort to establish a cultural
and educational center to honor Native Americans. Former Kentucky Gov.
Paul Patton in 2003 approved the donation of 85 acres of state park
land at Carrolltons Gen. Butler State Resort Park for a Native
American cultural center.
Shortly after being elected in 1996, Patton had issued an executive
order creating the Kentucky Native American Heritage Commission. His
wife, Judi, has Cherokee ancestry and still serves on the cultural centers
19-member board, which meets quarterly.
Then in April 2004, Kentucky Gov. Ernie Fletcher signed a bill establishing
the commission through statute, thereby empowering it to promote the
states Native American culture and history. The commissions
goals included protecting American Indian gravesites and establishing
a Native American cultural center.
Since then, several Native American groups and its determined board
members have worked to raise money to make the dream a reality. Circle
of Wisdom, an organization of tribes in Kentucky and neighboring states,
and the Kentucky Native American Indian Council, has sponsored festivals
and gatherings to raise money for the center.
So far, they have raised enough money to hire a consultant to draft
conceptual design plans, which were presented Nov. 13 at the Carroll
County Chamber of Commerces monthly membership meeting at Butler
renditions show the design plans
for the proposed Kentucky Center for
Native American Arts and Culture at
Gen. Butler State Resort Park.
The design plans took five years to develop, said Stephen
LeBoueff , a.k.a. Black Bear, a Blackfeet Indian from Morehead, Ky.,
who serves as the cultural center board president. He and Ken Tankersley,
an anthropology professor from Northern Kentucky University from Highland
Heights, Ky., gave a Powerpoint presentation to the chamber that showed
the design of the Kentucky Center for Native American Arts and Culture.
They say the design plans were necessary to begin corporate fundraising
for the project. The state of Kentucky has provided $1.5 million to
get the project started.
Once built, the center will serve as the states home base for
holding major Native American Pow Wows and offer tourists a chance to
experience Native American culture, they say. Some of the activities
to take place there will include storytelling, traditional dance performances
and interpretation. The nearest such center dedicated to Native American
culture is located at Eiteljorg Museum in downtown Indianapolis. In
fact, there is no such center in Kentucky, Ohio, Illinois or Tennessee.
The centers design plans, created by Indian-owned Encompass Architects
of Lincoln, Neb., features a $20 million, 50,000-square-foot structure
with areas for permanent and traveling exhibits, classrooms and a lecture
hall. There is also a library and research archive, gift shop and art
gallery, outdoor amphitheater, picnic area and nature trails surrounding
This is not just a Carrollton attraction but a statewide Kentucky
attraction, said LeBoueff, who founded Healing of Nations, a crisis
intervention agency that works with American Indian youths. We
believe it will draw tourists from many states. We feel we have not
spent enough time in this community, and that is why we are here.
In addition to showing off the new graphics of the future center, LeBoueff
said his appearance in Carrollton was to seek community support by involving
more local people in the initiative and possibly recruit additional
board members from the business or education community. He wants people
to learn more about the plans and become excited about it. The groups
also seeks corporate sponsors to help jumpstart the effort.
Its not just money that we need but also local people taking
part in its development, LeBoueff said.
19-member cultural center board
includes (from left) Reginald Meeks,
David Cloud, Marty Soaring Eagle
and Bruce Brading.
The board includes some local citizens, such as Carroll
County Judge-Executive Harold Shorty Tomlinson, Gen. Butlers
General Manager Stephen Jones, Carrollton chiropractor Richard Kates
and Louisvilles Reginald Meeks, a state representative who is
part Cherokee. But LeBoueff hopes more people from the region will join
the effort. This is something that will be good for the entire
area, so we want more people involved to help us tell the story.
Tankersley, who has Cherokee roots, takes part in many pow wows around
the state and region. He teaches Native American studies at NKU and
has written extensively about it.
Tankersley said a fourth Native American pow wow is being planned at
Gen. Butler State Park during the last weekend of April 2007. Proceeds
from these events have benefited the cultural center project fund. In
addition to holding such events, the group plans to hire a professional
fundraising firm in the near future.
The timetable for breaking ground depends on fundraising, he said. The
center will likely be built in phases as money becomes available. They
need about $9 million to begin the first phase of construction. Tankersley
said he hopes the trails and gardens can be established within two years.
This is something that will be unique to our area and also bring
in tourists, said Tomlinson. I support the project, and
thats why I elected to serve on its board.
Although there are no federally recognized tribes in Kentucky, there
are many tribes that have been recognized by the state. In all, it is
believed that more than 6,000 American Indians lived in Kentucky.
Cherokee, Chickasaw and Shawnee were the most influential
tribes in the state, according to the Kentucky Historical Society. Tankersley
said that at the time that Kentucky became a state in 1792, there were
20 tribes within its borders, including the aforementioned tribes plus
Miami, Delaware, Piankeshaw, Wea and Ojibwe. Other tribes to be represented
at the center are Iroquois, Cayuga, Tuscarawa, Seneca, Wyandot, Ottawa,
Potawatomi, Eel River, Kickapoo, Kaskaskia, Mingo, Chippewa, Choctaw,
Creek, Yuchi, Yamacraw, Quapaw, Seminole, sac, Fox and Osage.
The last Shawnee settlement, abandoned in 1754, was located in what
is now Clark County, near Lexington. A number of Chickasaw lived in
Western Kentucky, while a few Cherokee inhabited the southeastern part
of the state.
According to the historical society, a number of Cherokee living in
Eastern Kentucky married into local white families. For this reason,
is is believed that most people who have Native American ancestry from
Kentucky are descended from the Cherokee nation.
For more information on the Kentucky Center
for Native American Art & Culture, visit: www.kcnaac.org
To contact, Stephen LeBoueff, email: firstname.lastname@example.org. To contact
Ken Tankersley, email: email@example.com.
Back to January