Comanche National Museum Assistant Director Kristin Mravinec cleans "Irving," a full-size buffalo which is on display as part of the museum's new exhibit titled The Bison: American Icon.LAWTON, Okla. – The significance and meaning of the American Buffalo’s impact on the Plains Indian culture from the1800s through today is the focus of a new national traveling exhibition at the Comanche National Museum and Cultural Center (CNMCC).

The Bison: American Icon opens September 1, 2011 at 1:06 p.m. with a program featuring traditional Comanche songs and dance. Guest speaker for the event is Towana Spivey, Director/Curator of the Fort Sill National Historic Landmark.

A sampling of traditional Comanche foods will be served following the program.  The event is free and open to the public.  The opening of this exhibit is being held in conjunction with the 2011 Comanche Nation Fair.

The Bison: American Icon features over a 75 objects, including Plains Indian artifacts such as clothing, regalia, tools, and weapons with a wide variety of objects crafted from bison.  The exhibition addresses the crucial historical and cultural role of bison, for all people, on the Plains from the1800s through the 21st century. It also examines the ways in which this impressive animal has emerged an American icon.  Bison are a critical part of the Comanche Tribe’s heritage.  “For thousands of years until the early 1860s, there were tens of millions of bison roaming the plains of North America,” said CNMCC Executive Director, Phyllis Wahahrockah-Tasi. “1890, there were fewer than 300.  This presented a problem for our Comanche people who relied on the animal in order to survive.  At one time it was the tribe’s main source for food, shelter, clothing and tools,” Wahahrockah-Tasi said.  The Bison explores the “before” and “after” of the bison’s dramatic decline and tells how extinction was ultimately averted. The exhibition explores the many ways that the bison’s identity was transformed yet again into a symbol of America and a popular image.  “We’re thrilled to have the opportunity to host this exhibit because the subject matter is one that is very special to our Comanche People,” Wahahrockah-Tasi said.

The CNMCC staff has added local flair to the exhibit by incorporating Comanche art and historical information pertaining to the bison and its importance to the tribe.  CNMCC will also use the exhibit opening to unveil a unique, new educational tool.  “We are very excited to debut of a brand new customized one-of-a-kind interactive video game,” said Education and Public Programs Manager, Candy Morgan.  “The game will allow our visitors the opportunity to simulate an actual Bison hunt.  We believe we are the only tribal museum in the world to have such a game and we can’t wait to show it at the opening.” Morgan said.

The Bison:  American Icon will be on display through January 7, 2012.  Admission is free.   For more information call 580-353-0404 or visit  CNMCC is located at 701 NW Ferris Avenue, directly behind Lawton’s McMahon Auditorium.

The Bison: American Icon has been made possible by NEH on the Road, a special initiative of the National Endowment for the Humanities. The exhibit was originally developed by the C.M.Russell Museum in Great Falls, Montana, and co-curated by Anne Morand and Dr. Lynne Spriggs.  This exhibit is toured by Mid-America Arts Alliance through NEH on the Road. NEH on the Road offers an exciting opportunity for communities of all sizes to experience some of the best exhibitions funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH). Mid-America Arts Alliance was founded in 1972 and is the oldest regional nonprofit arts organization in the United States.