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FORT SMITH -- The U.S. Marshals Museum will include a contribution from the Five Civilized Tribes of Oklahoma of a statue of a native lighthorseman who worked with federal marshals to keep order in the Indian Territory.

The museum board voted Tuesday to accept the recommendation from the tribes' Intertribal Council for the statue by Cherokee-Pawnee artist Dan HorseChief of Sallisaw, Okla.

"We are honored to have a relationship with the five tribes that allows something like this to happen," said Patrick Weeks, the museum's president and CEO.

The design HorseChief and board member and Cherokee Nation representative Catherine Gray presented showed a life-size lighthorseman sitting astride a rearing horse and the 14-foot-tall statue sitting on a base with the form of a five-pointed star.

Gray said the base will include the tribal seals of the Cherokee, Chickasaw, Choctaw, Creek and Seminole tribes. The statue will be set at the center of a 60-foot-square plaza outside the museum that Gray expects to include spaces for each tribe to tell their stories.

The tribes referred to their law enforcement entities as lighthorsemen. Formed in some of the tribes as early as the late 18th century, the law enforcement companies remain on duty today under the title of marshals.

The museum board also approved an $18.5 million capital budget for fiscal 2019, which starts July 1, to begin construction of the 50,000-square-foot museum on the banks of the Arkansas River northwest of downtown Fort Smith. Total cost of building and furnishing the museum is estimated at about $32 million.

Construction was to have begun June 21, but Weeks told board members the start of work is being pushed back to later this summer. Plans were to spend $8.8 million on construction this fiscal year, which ends June 30, but engineering, design and site work totaling $2.9 million has been completed.

He said the museum remains on track to open Sept. 24, 2019, the Marshals Service's 230th anniversary.

Fundraising momentum is gaining as potential donors see completion of the museum nearing, Marshals Museum Foundation President Jim Dunn said Tuesday. Of the $50 million needed for the project, the museum has less than $18 million to raise.

Dunn said the museum foundation is working on obtaining two substantial grants and an application for a third that will be submitted this month. The foundation also is awaiting word from three large individual grants in the Fort Smith, Northwest Arkansas and Little Rock areas.

The foundation has submitted an application for a $750,000 grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities, Dunn said.

The museum, with its more than 1,000-item collection, will consist of three permanent exhibit galleries, a temporary exhibit gallery, the Samuel M. Sicard Hall of Honor to recognize those killed in the line of duty and a National Learning Center.

State Desk on 06/13/2018

Print Headline: Tribes to provide statue for Marshals Museum

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