For 15 years, the Center of the American Indian was a small
museum in Kirkpatrick Center. It struggled until President Doug
Cummings asked Allie Reynolds to get the finances in order.
Reynolds became president in 1986, and the collection began to
grow, but the center lacked visibility. It remained a small
museum among much larger operations in Kirkpatrick Center.
Meanwhile, Red Earth was started by Oklahoma Supreme Court
Justice Yvonne Kauger and Ken Bond of Liberty National Bank in
1987 to stage an annual giant festival. Again, Reynolds became
president, and Red Earth became highly visible as the largest and
most prestigious festival of its kind in the country.
Now the two organizations have merged, after a movement led by
Reynolds. Having built Atlas Mud Co. as a successful business, he
could see the need to avoid competition for local financial
support and to increase efficiency by combining the two staffs.
It turns out that he was right.
With Reynolds as president, Red Earth Inc. is off to a strong
new start with a $563,000 budget, no debt, an endowment of
$125,000, more space for what is now the Red Earth Indian Center,
900 volunteers and a staff of seven full-time employees plus
three part timers.
"The fit is just right," said Terri Cummings, executive
director and daughter-in-law of Doug Cummings. She had headed the
museum since 1989, and she now works with Phillip Bread,
marketing director who had led the marketing of the Red Earth
festival since 1988.
"It's remarkable how well the skills of the staff combine to
help each other," said Cummings. "We needed help to increase the
visibility of the center. We had no marketing director, and we
have that with Phillip Bread to help us plan more events and
exhibits in the future.
"We provide our experience in long-range planning for the
festival, and Red Earth paid off two loans totaling $20,000 as a
result of the merger. We both have more space for the staff to
operate, and we have the credibility and support of Kirkpatrick
Center for both operations."
As a result of the merger, Red Earth Inc. can now focus on
building its two primary operations:
The Red Earth festival, which attracts an estimated 140,000
visitors each June to enjoy the talents of more than 1,300
dancers, 270 artists, 120 musicians, plus 100 presenters and
performers from more than 100 Native American tribes.
"We have been copied all over the country," said Bread, "but
there is nothing to match it."
The Red Earth Indian Center has added 3,000 square feet at
Kirkpatrick Center to its original 5,800.
"Where we once had only a tiny office space in the back of the
museum," said Cummings, "we now have space for all of our staff
members, space for our permanent collection and a research
library, and facilities for our education program.
"We teach more than 4,000 students a year. They come here from
schools to learn about Native American culture, but for years
they had to sit on the floor in the museum while visitors walked
around them. Now, we will have a place for our classes."
The museum's permanent collection now includes more than 3,000
books, documents, maps, videos and periodicals, plus about 1,000
Cummings, who has a degree in anthropology-sociology from
Oklahoma State University, developed her organizational skills as
assistant to the general manager of the Oklahoma Symphony
Orchestra, primarily in development, and as administrative
assistant to Doug Cummings in his oil company.
She came to the center as executive director in 1989.
"At that point, the center's finances were in good shape," she
said. "We had an operating budget of about $110,000, and a total
budget of about $140,000 including grants, but we needed
That changed when the Support Center was called in to help the
museum develop long-range planning. …