The Five Civilized Tribes Museum is classified as a 501 (c)(3) organization.

The purpose of The Five Civilized Tribes Museum shall be to preserve the history, culture, and traditions of the Five Civilized Tribes - Cherokee, Chickasaw, Choctaw, Creek, and Seminole, through the acquisition and preservation of works of art, artifacts, documents, books, correspondence, and other materials pertaining to the Five Civilized Tribes, and to promote interest, knowledge, and appreciation of tribal heritage through exhibits, tours, programs, writings, and other media to all people.

It is located in Muskogee, Oklahoma, USA and is housed in the historic Union Indian Agency building.The Bureau of Indian Affairs began constructing the Agency Building on August 18, 1875. This building was the first to be built by the United States Government to house the Superintendence of the Five Civilized Tribes. Until this point, each tribe had their own Agency, except for the Chickasaws and Choctaws who shared one at Boggy Depot.

A fact which is scarcely known is that the term “Five Civilized Tribes” does not officially appear in history until one year after the opening of this consolidated Indian Union Agency. Upon completion, it was used for the offices and residence of the Indian Agency Superintendent and his family. Business was done downstairs, and the Superintendent and his family’s living quarters were upstairs. The building itself is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

The building has also been a school and orphanage for the Creek Freedmen, a residence. After World War I it began a new life as “The Chateau” where area residents came to listen and dance to live bands. After World War II, the building fell into disrepair; however, through the efforts of the Da-Co-Tah Club, a group of local women of Native American descent, the building was preserved and opened its doors as the Five Civilized Tribes Museum on April 26, 1966.

Ownership of the Agency Building traditionally rested in the Creek Nation, during which time it also played the role of home and school for orphans of the Creek Freedmen. It was in 1909 that ownership of the building was transferred to the City of Muskogee for park purposes. The City then gave it to the United States Government in 1944 to aid the Veterans Hospital facilities; however, the Government did not put the building to use.

On September 8, 1951, the Da-Co-Tah Indian Club began talks of utilizing the old Union Agency Building to house the Five Civilized Tribes Museum, a personal project of theirs. Sixteen days later, on September 24, 1951, the club voted to promote and sponsor the Five Civilized Tribes Museum, to be established in the old Agency Building. Three years later they sponsored H.R. Bill No. 8983 petitioning the return of the building to the City of Muskogee.

Having been introduced into Congress by Representative Ed Edmondson, the bill was passed and then signed by Dwight D. Eisenhower. The museum was incorporated on November 19, 1955, under the laws of the State of Oklahoma. Two years later the Da-Co-Tah Indian Club elected Marie L. Wadley to be the first president of the museum.

Exhibits featuring various aspects of their lives, history and culture are displayed downstairs, and are changed quite frequently. Upstairs one can find many artifacts mixed in with art from either the current competition, or from the Museum’s permanent collection. The museum holds an extensive collection of traditional art produced by artists of Cherokee, Chickasaw, Choctaw, Muscogee (Creek) and Seminole descent, such as Solomon McCombs, Fred Beaver, Johnny Tiger, Michael J. Narcomey, Terry Saul, Joan Hill and many more. The museum also has the world’s largest collection of Jerome Tiger originals, including “Stickballer”, his only major sculpture, which is on permanent display in the gallery.

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