Manataka American Indian Council




American Indian Village
Turtle Island
Hot Springs National Park, Arkansas



Project failed in committee vote 1999.


The idea of a major American Indian cultural center is timely.  National and international interest in American Indian culture and other "back-to-nature and "roots" type themes is growing.  Sales of art, souvenirs and other reminders of American Indian culture are at an all time high and expanding. Interest in Indian genealogy is booming and book sales are soaring.

The Manataka American Indian Village and Turtle Island will be a national focal point for the preservation and exhibition of American Indian culture.  The complex will provide a single location for approximately 500 tribes, villages, groups and pueblos throughout the country to exhibit the early lifestyles, tools, arts, crafts and customs of their respective tribes (50,000 AD to present).  The complex will be the only one of its kind in the United States.

The concept of a focal point for the exhibition of Native American culture are incorporated with recreation and tourism facilities to provide the only park of this size in the nation with an American Indian theme.

The authenticity of the American Indian theme is the most critical factor in determining the long-term success of the project.  Exhibits and the exteriors and interiors of all buildings and facilities must meet rigid design and environmental requirements.

As indicative of any major museum, many exhibits will take several years to complete.  The process will evolve with time due to the complexity and cost of acquiring many of the artifacts and art pieces.  Many American Indians have expressed interest in donating items for display and consulting on other aspects of the project.

Construction of the development is divided into phases because of the complexity of the project.  Phase I begins with land acquisition and financing and culminates with the completed construction of the Cave Museum and Manataka American Indian Village.

The following is a brief overview of the project.

Cave Museum
The Cave Museum is housed in the lower floor of the 30,000 square foot eight-sided Council Lodge reception center.  The Council Lodge will house a ticket office, administrative offices, restrooms, first-aid center, and conference area. Visitors will enter the Cave by a long sloping ramp winding through a maze of life-like exhibits of famous American Indians, wildlife and fauna.  The Cave will be accessible from inside and outside the Council Lodge. The Cave will house exhibits representing tribes from across the continent including Alaskan and Mayan. No sales will take place in the Cave, which will be a high security, fire/flood protected building.  Exiting the building, visitors will enter another world of forests, streams, mountains, and prairies. With a step back in time, visitors will enjoy the sights, sounds and smells of yesterday.

Manataka American Indian Village
The Village will feature a ten (10) acre open-air interpretative exhibit constructed in the shape of a miniature relief map of North America.  Visitors will see mountains, rivers, prairies and wildlife as they appeared in the early 1400's. Enclosing sections of the exhibit so visitors may tour at night and during inclement weather may be considered in the future.

The walking visitor will take a self-guided tour (approximately one and one half-hours) through the exhibit along wheel chair accessible designated trails.

Specific American Indian exhibits will be situated in areas of the continent once occupied by a particular tribe (i.e., teepee village in the Great Plains, Longhouse village in the Woodlands, Pueblos in the Southwest, etc.)  Each exhibit will show the type of dwellings, tools, weapons and other details significant to early Indian life.

Village will depict daily life of ancient native people of North America with Indians in period costume playing, working and demonstrating many ancient customs.  Divided into major cultural areas (Southwest, Plains, Woodlands, Northwest, etc.) villages are set apart from one another separated by forests, hills, streams, a river and stockades.  Reminiscent of being deep in the wilderness, visitors will journey through the complex by a series of interconnecting winding paths.  All paths will lead to the center of the exhibit to the Arts & Crafts Village.  



Arts & Crafts Village
Set in the center of the huge outdoor Manataka American Indian Village exhibits is a large area consisting of seven- (7) buildings with a total of 18,000 square feet of display space surrounding a large circular open-air plaza.  The buildings will house food concessions, restrooms, trading posts, and photo shop and craft demonstration areas.  Surrounding the center courtyard are benches and tables set between flower gardens and shade trees.  The center area is terraced with seating for 400 visitors overlooking a dance arena.  Authentic Indian singing, dancing, and drumming shows will be performed periodically throughout the day.  Individual concessions may be leased depending on economic and logistical factors. 

After leaving the Arts & Crafts Village, guests may select paths leading to other facilities and attractions. 1) Council Lodge - parking lot and front gate, 2) Turtle Island overnight lodging facilities, 3) Powwow Arena.



Turtle Island - Overnight Lodging Facilities
A 200-unit campground will provide overnight accommodations for visitors will RV's, campers or tents.   Turtle Island will include complete utility hook-ups, individual outdoor cooking areas, a bathhouse, swimming pool, a community cook-out/campfire arena and walking paths.   The Council House will manage guests to Turtle Island.

A number of authentic and colorful teepees, hogans,  and wikiups, longhouses, accommodating large groups will be available for guests. 

A 75-125 room economy motel will provide overnight accommodations at seasonal rates comparable to those found in the Hot Springs area.  The motel will have meeting rooms for groups and will share the outdoor swimming pool and walking trails with the campground.  The motel may be leased to a national hotel management firm.


Craft Workshop

This phase will not include new construction, but will use existing space to develop a craft making shop during off-seasons.  Crafts produced will be sold at on-sight concessions and wholesale companies and by the Internet on the Manataka website. We anticipate approximately 25% of the temporary worker seasonal workers will be engaged directly in the making, display and sale of gift and craft merchandise.   It is more cost effective to continue their employment during off-season than the expensive alternative of rehiring each year.  Goods produced in-house are also more cost effective than the alternative of purchasing through wholesalers.

Crafts to be produced include dream catchers, mandela, shields, jewelry, beadwork, chokers, arrowhead spears and drums.  Other products may include educational booklets, candles and wrapped herb bundles.


Powwow Arena

An outdoors 1,000 seat Manataka Powwow Arena will host a variety of events throughout the year.  The Arena will not be limited to Indian powwows held three to four times a year, but will also host rodeos, concerts and conventions. The Powwow Arena may also be used for nightly outdoors seasonal drama productions about the Trail of Tears and other Indian sagas.

At ground level, the Powwow Arena will have concessions, restrooms, dressing rooms and storage areas.

The Powwow Arena will be a large subterranean outdoor amphitheater with terraced sloping earthen sides up to ground level.   Each of five terraced levels will seat approximately 200 people. The next terrace level below ground level will be partially covered and contain sound and lighting systems and 'standing room only' space.  The lowest level will seat performers, dignitaries, wheelchair guests and their families and groups.

Shade trees and attractive shrubs will surround the upper ring.  The Powwow Arena will have ample outdoor lighting, arena stage lighting and professional sound system.  


So, what do you think?


Right now the project is on the drawing board and lots of changes can take place.  It is only a matter of imagination, spirit and desire.  Let us know some of your ideas and criticism.  We are ready to get the project moving.    In February 2006, The Elder Council formally appointed Lynn Selvidge, a successful businessman and humanitarian, as independent consultant and Project Coordinator. 



Thank you for taking time to read our presentation.




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