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.
“Honoring Our Own”
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.
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.