The Hall of the People of Oklahoma traces the 30,000-year history of the Native people of the state. Exhibits begin with the earliest archaeological evidence of humans in Oklahoma, and travel through time to an examination of what it means to be Native American in Oklahoma today. The entry walls are covered in handprints made by representatives from 26 of Oklahoma's 39 federally recognized tribes.
Gallery highlights include the "Cooper Skull," the crushed skull of a now-extinct bison, painted with a red zig-zag pattern. At 10,000 years old, it is the oldest painted object in North America. An audio-visual display takes you to the box canyon in northern Oklahoma where this important artifact was found.
In the Mississippian Cultural Universe exhibit, you can walk through full-scale reproductions of the pole houses built by the people of the Mississippian culture, who lived 1,200 years ago and built Oklahoma's famous Spiro mounds. You can also climb into a reproduction of a cedar canoe such as those used by these ancient artisans and see examples of some of the finest pre-Columbian artwork in North America.
The modern-era exhibits in this gallery focus on the Native American experience in Oklahoma in the 19th, 20th and 21st centuries, including examples of clothing, toys and other objects that represent ceremonial and everyday traditional activities of the western tribes.
What's Coming for the Hall of the People of Oklahoma
The museum's Native American Advisory Panel
decided to complete the permanent exhibits focusing
on the western tribes first. In the future, new
permanent exhibits will be constructed that
more thoroughly tell the modern-era stories
of the tribes now living in eastern and
central Oklahoma. Until then, the central
and eastern tribes are represented through
objects in a series of display cases.