Cherokee Nation Celebrates Opening of New Community Center

Woody Hair Community Center ribbon cutting

KENWOOD, OK – Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr. and Deputy Chief Bryan Warner, along with members of the Council of the Cherokee Nation and hundreds of Kenwood-area community members, gathered to celebrate the grand opening of the Woody Hair Community Center.

The new 33,000 sq. ft. facility houses a Head Start facility, an elder nutrition program, a space for Kenwood community members to hold community events, a wellness space and a place for school sporting events, traditional and cultural games.

“The Woody Hair Community Center in Kenwood will serve a vital purpose for generations to come, giving families and young people a place to gather, a place to fellowship, a place to learn, and a place to perpetuate and share our lifeways,” said Chief Hoskin. “Within a 15-mile radius of this community center are nearly 16,000 Cherokee citizens, so we know this building is going to be a positive change in the Kenwood community and surrounding communities. Today represents the basic choice we are making at Cherokee Nation – we can either choose to let the rural communities our ancestors founded wither on the vine, or we can choose to invest in their resurgence. We are choosing resurgence.”

The tribe invested an approximate total of $21 million for the new facility, including crucial water infrastructure investments that support the new building along with the community of Kenwood as a whole. The Woody Hair Community Center is also the home to a 1,300 sq. ft. wellness space and locker rooms that will double as safe areas during severe weather. An 11,000 sq. ft. multi-purpose gym for high school sports and community basketball and volleyball tournaments is also included. The gym will be able to seat over 400 people for banquet-style events. The facility will be staffed by Cherokee Nation Public Health, including Program Coordinator Robert “Daine” Pippen.

“This new facility in Kenwood will create a bright future for the community,” said Deputy Chief Warner. “Just think of the games that will be played here, the laughs and fellowship people will share – people changing their lives for the better at the wellness space, and so much more. I’m thrilled to see all of the life that will be lived here in the future. When I see this building in its complete form, I see how much of a blessing it will be and positive progress that we’re making. I’m thankful that the Cherokee Nation is able to invest in these communities and types of projects.”

Woody Hair Community Center

The building includes two Head Start classrooms totaling more than 2,800 sq. ft. and capable of welcoming up to 40 students. The Head Start will have an outdoor and covered play area, storm-safe areas, a commercial kitchen and staff offices.

During the celebration, Chief Hoskin also signed a memorandum of understanding with the One Fire Community Organization and Kenwood Public Schools for use of the facility. One Fire Community Organization is a Cherokee Nation Community and Cultural Outreach participating organization in the Kenwood community and will use part of facility for its operations. Kenwood school and the One Fire organization will work with Cherokee Nation on scheduling the facility for various community and school activities in addition to regular Cherokee Nation Public Health department programming.