In recent years, the Chickasaw Nation has taken great strides in transforming the buildings and land part of the Carter Services campus in Ardmore.
In 2012, the Chickasaw Nation opened a new health clinic and unveiled the new Chickasaw Nation Ardmore Senior Center. A year earlier, the elder independent living apartments were dedicated. Last month, the tribe broke ground for the Ardmore child development center.
Another stride was completed Wednesday when Chickasaw Nation Gov. Bill Anoatubby, joined by tribal leaders, local officials and residents, cut the ceremonial red ribbon, marking the opening of the community center building.
The Chickasaw Nation’s Ardmore Community Center, home to a banquet room, dressing room, two kitchens, meeting rooms and state-of-the-art audio-visual equipment, is located at 907 Locust St.
Tucked between the Ardmore Wellness Center and the Ardmore Senior Center, the community center once housed the cafeteria and gym for the former Carter Seminary, a residential school for Indian children.
“Wow, what a transition it has been,” Anoatubby told a crowd of more than 100 in the parking lot of the community center prior to the ribbon-cutting ceremony.
Anoatubby, who has served as governor for the Chickasaw people since 1987, said he remembers when talks of the campuses transformation began 10 years ago. At that time, Carter Seminary was closed as the Chickasaw Nation opened a residential school campus near Kingston. The Chickasaw Children’s Village served as the successor to the Carter Seminary, which was built in 1917 and served as an educational facility for Native American boys and girls.
Gradually, tribal officials began altering the campus, adding the wellness center and senior citizens center to the existing medical clinic and Head Start program building.
Anoatubby said all buildings and services were added with the intent to better serve the Chickasaw people in the Ardmore area. That was the same vision when talks of adding the Chickasaw Nation’s Ardmore Community Center to the campus began.
“The Chickasaw Nation knows and the people know the importance of family and fellowship, and how each of these things can enrich their lives,” Anoatubby said. “This community center is one more way to support that focus on family and community. It will provide a place for people to gather for a variety of purposes, from professional to private.”
The Ardmore facility mimics the Chickasaw Nation Ada Community Center, which opened its doors in 2007, Anoatubby said.
The community center will be available for use by Chickasaw citizens and their families for events such as family reunions, weddings, birthdays, baby showers, conferences, trainings and meetings.
Following the ribbon-cutting ceremony, the tribe invited those in attendance inside for a tour of the 13,700-square-foot facility. On the projectors and built-in television monitors in the lobby and banquet hall, a slide show ran that included photos of the construction process. The building’s facade was altered to match existing buildings on the campus.
“We are excited about this opening, and we anticipate the facility to serve as a backdrop for activities in the future,” Anoatubby said. “This community center is a great way to fulfill our mission ... to overall enhance the life of the Chickasaw people.”