On April 29, 2000 the Caddo Nation Tribal Council responded to tribal membership and enacted into law an ordinance establishing the Caddo Heritage Museum for the purpose of preserving and perpetuating Caddo history, culture and traditions by collecting, conserving, interpreting, and archiving, exhibiting and disseminating knowledge of the Caddo people from prehistoric time forward. The same ordinance created a Board of Trustees composed of thirteen members, at least seven of whom must be enrolled members of the tribe. These Charter members spent the first six months in office writing the museum’s formal “Mission Statement” and a “Collection Management Policy.” The policy was developed after researching collections policies adopted by varying sizes and focus, and a review of guidelines published by professional museum associations.
Although the museum’s holdings were meager at the grand opening exhibit in 2001, the collections have since increased due to donation, repatriation activities and the transfer of items from other institutions. The museum has, since the opening, been regularly allotted a line item budget from the Caddo Tribal Government with supplemental funding coming from other sources; federal funds from the Institute of Museum and Library services (IMLS) grants, and Oklahoma Historic Records Advisory Board (OHRAB) grants, and our gift shop sales. Despite limited funds and a minimal staff, the museum has accomplished much to earn the trust now given them by the Caddo community.
Present museum holdings include approximately 10,000 prehistoric items, 5000 historic and/or archival items (including digital historic photographs) and numerous contemporary artworks by Caddo artisans. We have a reference/research library with over 2000 holdings of Caddo/Southeast/region/culture reference books. This collection also includes maps, manuscripts, audio/video recordings of songs, dances, stories, and Caddo language. As of April 2015, our doors are open again and we continue to follow our Mission Statement and share in the larger vision of perpetuating Caddo culture through our efforts.
The Caddo Heritage Museum is funded through the tribal government and by contributions to our non-profit organization, the Taysha Fund. Any donations to the Taysha Fund are tax deductible under Section 7871 of the IRS Code and support the museums programs and exhibits. For more information, please contact the Museum.
We also support ourselves through income received from our gift shop. The gift shop includes a selection of books about the Caddo people and recordings of Caddo music, as well as souvenirs such as t-shirts and tote bags. Any profit made on sales from the gift shop directly benefits the Museum’s Taysha Fund.
The current Veteran’s exhibit currently on display is a scaled down version of the original and will remain as part of our permanent collections. We have memorabilia, photographs and uniforms from the families of men and women of the Caddo Nation who have and continue to serve in all branches of the military. The museum maintains a notebook in the exhibit area where visitors can add names of family members so that we can keep our files up to date.
To compliment this exhibit a Memorial sits on a small rise at the south side of the Tribal complex. The names of our Veteran Caddo men and women are engraved on two large marble monuments. We encourage you to visit the memorial and “Honor Our Own.”
The Caddo Heritage Museum maintains permanent exhibits of traditional silverwork, pottery, artwork and archival photographs. The work of Caddo silversmiths Merle Keyes and Son Supernaw is currently displayed. The women’s hair combs, worn as part of their dance regalia, incorporate the intricate and delicate traditional Caddo designs.
The engraved bottles, bowls and jars currently on display represent the Caddoan traditions from ca. 1000 AD to the late 1600’s contact period. Many of these pieces are from the Southwest Arkansas sites. The curvilinear lines, distinctive shapes, and deep colors all aid the archeologists in recognizing these Caddo vessels.
The work of Jeri Redcorn, our present-day Caddo potter, represents the continuation of the distinctive pottery created in the past.
Also part of the permanent collection are large duplications of archival photographs. These images continue to present the visitor with a visual glimpse of the previous generations of Caddo people.
Dr. George Sabo III
Director, Arkansas Archeological Survey University
of Arkansas System
Dr. Scott Hammerstedt
Oklahoma Archeological Survey
University of Oklahoma
Caddo Nation Tribal Member
Curator of Collections
Oklahoma Museum of History
Director of Education
Oklahoma Museum of History
Dr. Elsbeth Dowd
Sam Noble Museum
The Caddo Nation maintains a library and resource center at the Caddo Heritage Museum. Our holdings currently include over 400 volumes, most of which deal with topics directly relating to the Caddo people. The library also has materials that include the surrounding tribes, and other topics of interest such as Native American history, culture, and archaeology.
The library is open to the public during regular business hours, 9 to 12 and 1 to 4, Monday through Thursday.
We have a microfilm reader that can be used by our visitors. Also available are the census records for Caddo County, Oklahoma, for the years of 1910, 1920, and 1930,and the Kiowa Agency Census and Enrollment records (rolls KA-1 and KA-2) that include letters sent and received related to the census of Kiowa, Comanche, Apache, Wichita & Affiliated bands (dates range from 1883-1890). These will be very useful to those who are conducting genealogical research for their families.
The IMLS Bookshelf is a crucial component of Connecting to Collections: A Call to Action a conservation initiative that the Institute launched in 2006. IMLS began the initiative in response to a 2005 study by Heritage Preservation documenting the dire state of the nation’s collections. The multi-faceted, multi-year initiative shines a nationwide spotlight on the needs of America’s collections, especially those held by smaller institutions, which often lack the human and financial resources necessary to adequately care for their collections.
The Caddo Heritage Museum was among the first to receive the essential set of resources based on an application describing the needs and plans for care of its collections. The IMLS Bookshelf focuses on collections typically found in art or history museums and in libraries’ special collections, with an added selection of texts for zoos, aquarium, public gardens, and nature centers. It addresses such topics as the philosophy and ethics of collecting, collections management and planning, emergency preparedness, and culturally specific conservation issues.
The CHM received another grant from the Institute of Museums and Libraries for $6000. On June 10, the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) awarded Native American tribes across the United States $1.22 million dollars to improve and sustain their library services. The grant monies will be distributed among 209 tribes, and will bolster library services offered by Native American tribal communities and Alaskan Native villages. This grant will begin in October of this year and with completion in September of 2009. Monies from this project will secure a new comptuter and additional materials for the library and resource center.
About the Institute of Museum and Library Services
The Institute of Museum and Library Services is the primary source of federal support for the nation’s 122,000 libraries and 17,1500 museums. The Institute’s mission is to create strong libraries and museums that connect people to information and ideas. The Institute works at the national level and in coordination with state and local organizations to sustain heritage, culture, and knowledge; enhance learning and innovation; and support professional development. To learn more about the Institute, please visit www.imls.gov.
Funds to help increase the number of books at the library, as well as to purchase the microfilm reader, and several reels of microfilm were provided by a Native American Library Services Program of the Institute of Museum and Library Services. Their support of our efforts is invaluable.
If you have need for personal research assistance, please call and arrange for staff availability. We look forward to serving the Caddo Nation.