Oklahoma Historical Society
Century Chest Exhibit Highlights Native American Treasures
The second of three temporary exhibits inspired by the objects found in the Oklahoma Century Chest is now on display at the Oklahoma History Center in Oklahoma City. Newly discovered photographs of Indian Chiefs Geronimo and Quanah Parker, a bow made by a Choctaw Indian, and a 1913 letter from the Governor of the Chickasaw Nation speaking to future citizens and tribal members in 2013. These are but a few of the many priceless American Indian artifacts and documents now on display. According to Director of Research Chad Williams, the Century Chest is a time capsule that was buried in the basement of the First Lutheran Church of Oklahoma City on April 22, 1913 and unearthed on April 22, 2013.
The American Indian treasures placed in the chest in 1913 were collected through the efforts of Madeline Czarina Colbert Conlan. Mrs. Conlan's family tree included both the Folsom family of the Choctaw Nation and the Colbert family of the Chickasaw Nation. As part of her mission Mrs. Conlan wrote to Senator Robert L. Owen, Cherokee, and asked him for a word of greeting to be placed in the Century Chest. Additionally, she made written requests to Congressman Charles D. Carter, Cherokee, Douglas H. Johnston, governor of the Chickasaw Nation, and Victor Locke, chief of the Choctaw Nation. All of her requests were received with favor and these prominent individuals deposited a word of greeting in the form of letters on official letterhead to the future citizens of the state of Oklahoma.
Other American Indian items found in the Century Chest include letters, manuscripts, tribal constitutions and laws, books illustrated in tribal languages, photographs, family genealogies, and tribal newspapers including the Cherokee Advocate. In addition, there are three dimensional objects such as a buffalo horn spoon and a pair of southeastern finger woven garters. The American Indian items donated to the Century Chest represented the sovereign tribal nations that still call Oklahoma home today. The tribes currently represented in the Century Chest exhibit include the Chickasaw Nation, Choctaw Nation, Cherokee Nation, Delaware Tribe, Muscogee Creek, Cheyenne & Arapaho, Apache, and the Comanche Nation.
This exhibit highlighting materials donated to the Century Chest by many of Oklahoma's American Indian tribes will be on exhibit through December 31, 2013, at the Oklahoma History Center. The last of the three temporary exhibits will begin in January 2014 and focus on the state of Oklahoma as a whole. This exhibit, which is free to the public, is located in the main atrium of the Oklahoma History Center. On April 22, 2014, all of the items from the Oklahoma Century Chest will be placed on exhibit in the History Center's Noble Gallery.
For more information please visit the Century Chest website at http://www.okhistory.org/centurychest.