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Shawnee’s diverse history includes Native Americans and French monks

Posted by: Greater Oklahoma City Chamber on Tuesday, July 21, 2015 at 12:00:00 am

The City of Shawnee has its own charm and history and it’s big enough (more than 30,000 people in 2013) to have a small regional airport. But there are plenty of reasons to drive west on Interstate 40 to visit Shawnee.

While you’re there, stop at the Mabee-Gerrer Museum of Art and see its Egyptian, Greek and Roman objects; Renaissance art from the early 20th century; and other cultural artifacts. It is home to Oklahoma’s only Egyptian mummy. Founded in 1919, the museum is affiliated with Catholic-affiliated St. Gregory’s University, which developed because of the value that two Benedictine monks placed on education in what was then Indian Territory more than 100 years ago. These monks, Dom Isidore Robot and Frere Dominic Lambert, moved to the area from France in 1875 and immediately started education programs under the Sacred Heart Mission.

Don’t miss a stop by the Cultural Heritage Center of the Citizen Potawatomi Nation, which has its headquarters in Shawnee. The heritage center even includes an eagle aviary – a home to injured eagles rescued from the wild that cannot be rehabilitated and released. Tours of the aviary are available by appointment, but you can stop by the heritage center’s museum to see cultural and contemporary objects presenting the Native American tribe’s history. Hours are 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesdays through Fridays and Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

What served as the Santa Fe Train Depot from 1902 and served as a train station until 1973 now serves as the home of the Pottawatomie County Museum and Historical Society. Visitors can learn about the area’s history, including more about the country’s railroad and transportation history. Near the museum is the current home of Shawnee’s first building, a home known as the Beard Cabin, built after the land run in 1891.

And finally, on the Shawnee Board of Directors’ website to promote area tourism, www.visitshawnee.com, are two must-see sites that sound quite intriguing:

  • For the water gardening fans, the Pond Pro Shop has streams, waterfalls, fountains and ponds to help you design, build and maintain your backyard pond.
  • If you have children and want to venture a little further from Shawnee – about 20 miles to the southeast – don’t miss the Jasmine Moran Children’s Museum in Seminole.

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