Rep. Paul Wesselhoft advocates use of lottery funds to finance Indian Museum

OKLAHOMA CITY – State Rep. Paul Wesselhöft, R-Oklahoma City, will be advocating this year to fund the American Indian Cultural Center and Museum from state lottery proceeds.

The museum is an educational facility and Wesselhöft, R-Moore, said he believes it is appropriate that its completion is partially funded by monies from the Oklahoma Education Lottery Trust Fund.

House Bill 1297, by Wesselhöft, directs that five percent of the monies in the Oklahoma 

Education Lottery Trust Fund be appropriated to the Native American Cultural and Education Center Trust Fund each year until $40 million is reached. A match of $40 million from private sources has also been pledged.

The appropriation of five percent comes out to approximately $3 million, Wesselhöft said. The facility is costing taxpayers approximately $668,000 every year just to staff, protect and maintain it, he added.

“For years now, I have vigorously encouraged my caucus to bring this project to some kind of definitive resolution,” Wesselhöft said. “If Oklahoma cannot afford this appropriation and it is not the will of the legislature to complete the project, then I will write a bill to wrap up the project, tie a bow around it and give it to Oklahoma City.

“With Oklahoma City’s demonstrated expertise of building great projects, perhaps they will complete the project with MAPS type of funding. However, the capital city is under no obligation to utilize the property and facilities for such a purpose.”

Wesselhoft is a leader of the bipartisan Native American Legislatuve Caucus.

NOTE: The photograph with this story is from a meeting Gov. Mary Fallin held in 2013 with members of the bipartisan Native American Legislative Caucus.