Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner has announced the launch of The Southern Plains Museum and Cultural Center (SPMCC), a first-of-its-kind virtual Native American Indian museum and cultural center. The SPMCC was made possible through a $10,000 City of Houston initiative grant from the Houston Mayor’s Office of Cultural Affairs.
Southern Apache Museum President Chance L. Landry (Lipan Apache), whose museum opened in 2012 as a community and cultural center in Houston’s Northwest Mall (it closed in 2017), celebrates the new virtual space. “Mayor Sylvester Turner will go down in history as the Mayor who finally recognized the Indigenous community in Houston, and the Native American Indian community will always remain grateful for the recognition,” says Landry. “Our Mayor will lead us out of the shadows into the scope of visibility in this great city of ours.”
Says Mayor Turner: “Earlier this year, City Council voted to recognize the second Monday in October as Indigenous Peoples’ Day. Houstonians can now celebrate Native American Heritage Month by learning about indigenous histories through the Southern Plains Museum and Cultural Center. With the coronavirus pandemic still spreading in our community, this virtual experience will allow families to learn about Indigenous Peoples from the comfort and safety of their own home.”
Houston’s 68,000 Native Americans from all Nations (Census 2010 data), as well as the general public, can now visit the virtual center’s multiple exhibitions of art, artifacts, and videos of public ceremonies. The virtual space includes a Southern Apache Museum, American Indian Genocide Museum, library, garden, health clinic, and Powwow Arena. Nations represented include the Alabama Coushatta, Choctaw, Comanche, Cherokee, Lipan Apache, Navajo, Ponca, Tunica Biloxi, Muskogee Creek, and Aztec.
“We are very honored for the opportunity to participate in this amazing project,” says Giangtien Nguyen and Afreen Ali, co-founders of INVI, a Virtual Architecture firm established in March of 2020. “We have learned so much about the stories and history of Native Americans since working with Chance Landry and the Native American community. We hope that through the virtual platform, their voices can reach many people globally.”