The First Americans Museum in Oklahoma has been given a much-needed infusion of funds, with a $2 million donation from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (LDS).
The First Americans Museum was begun in a storefront in the 1990s as the American Indian Cultural Center and Museum. It began construction on its own site in 2006, but funds ran out in 2012 before construction could be finished. In 2019, Oklahoma City took over the effort, and construction was completed at last.
The donation from the LDS Church is earmarked for a specific need – a FamilySearch center to be built in the museum.
“Native Americans have been moved around so much from different places that a lot of our families have lost contact with each other. Having a center here is a way for us to connect our families together again,” James Pepper Henry, director of First Americans Museum, said.
Oklahoma is particularly diverse, as many Native Americans from every corner of the country were forcibly relocated there for the sake of American expansionism. It is the terminus of the Trail of Tears. Over 300,000 Native Americans live in the state today.
FamilySearch is the nonprofit genealogy arm of the LDS Church, which is known for its accuracy in tracking down remote ancestors and forgotten records.
Genealogy is a cornerstone of the Mormon Church, which teaches that if you know who your ancestors are, you can convert and “save” them posthumously.
Elder Kyle McCay of the Seventy, an LDS church leader, made the $2 million donation in person on Sunday at the First Americans Museum, giving a speech about bringing one’s family closer to God.
“First Americans feel the yearning to find their ancestors, and we feel with our FamilySearch technology we can make this happen,” Elder McKay added. “We are donating our expertise and consultants who can build a center suited to the needs of the museum.”
Image: GTS Productions / Shutterstock.com