A Brief History of Red Earth

    Supporting Native Communities for Over 40 Years


    Red Earth, Inc. began with the establishment of the Center of the American Indian, an intertribal, Native American-led museum dedicated to showcasing Native American arts.

    The Center of the American Indian was located on the second floor of the Kirkpatrick Center (now known as the Science Museum where it produced a quarterly journal, The Storyteller, held workshops, language classes, and symposia.


    A group of influential community and tribal leaders founded the Red Earth Festival to showcase Native dance and art with a planned Native art market and powwow in an effort to emphasize Oklahoma's American Indian roots.

    With the backing of the Oklahoma City Chamber of Commerce, State Arts Council, state and local leaders, and thirty thousand dollars, the first festival commenced. Two respected American Indian Oklahomans, Allie Reynolds and Enoch Kelly Haney, personally undertook the promotion of this event, which would showcase American Indian art and offer substantial cash prizes in dance competitions. This mixture of cultural offerings helped ensure the festival's success by appealing to a wide cross-section of both the American Indian and mainstream population.


    At the beginning of the twenty-first century the two groups merged to create Red Earth, Inc., which is now one of the most respected organizations of its type in the United States. 

    Managing the festival, traditionally held in June. This nonprofit group's mission is to promote, preserve, and promulgate the traditions of American Indian history and culture. The festival continued to grow and in 2001 an estimated one hundred thousand people from around the world came to witness the more than sixteen hundred American Indian artists and dancers, especially at the daily "Grand Entry." Other presentations have included storytelling, fashion shows, American Indian foods, and children's activities.


    The Red Earth Festival an award-winning event that brings tribal artists and dancers together from across North America to represent the richness and diversity of their unique heritages, will be held in the Cox Convention Center annually. Festival along with the Red Earth Pow Wow fills the Convention Center with hundreds of dancers and visitors every year.

    Attendees can view and purchase the work of some of the nation's most talented artists, with pieces ranging from traditional beadwork and basketry to jewelry, pottery, sculpture, paintings and more.


    For 25 years Red Earth was two separate components, Festival and the Center of the American Indian which was the physical component. There was no location to promote our American Indian artists and have street frontage where people could get to know where we are.

    Now Red Earth has a home with a museum, along with a retail shop in a 2,000-square-foot storefront space that is big enough to display about one-fifth of the museum’s 1,600 artifacts in the Santa Fe Plaza, immediately south of the Skirvin Hilton Hotel.


    The Festival's current and most frequent home, the Cox Convention Center has been sold and will no longer be available for events. Due to this Red Earth had to find a new home and the new convention center doesn't fit our needs. It doesn't have an arena which is crucial to hosting a powwow.

    Without the appropriate space Red Earth Parade will be staying in downtown OKC but shifting to autumn as part of the new Red Earth FallFest. This new annual event will include the parade, a festival market, and a powwow. FallFest will anchor Oklahoma City's Indigenous People’s Day celebration. While Festival will take place in the summer but will find a new home for their annual juried art show and market.


    The new Red Earth Art Center reopened in the ground floor lobby of the BancFirst Tower in December and provides an outlet for Native artists to sell their art to the public.

    • The festival will feature tribal dance showcases, Native American cultural demonstrations and hands-on arts and crafts at The Cowboy, where many of the activities will be staged outside in theimmersive new family-friendly attraction Liichokoshkomo’,named for the Chickasaw phrase for “Let’s play." 

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    Red Earth became what its founders had envisioned in 1987, and its success illustrated that the tribes of Oklahoma are not gone and forgotten but alive, well, and thriving.