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‘Indians in Aviation’

Contact: Angela Cato, Arts & Cultural Services Division |
Exhibit, film tell stories of Indians’ WWII contributions  
Outside of Code Talkers, American Indians’ contributions to World War II from the home front have largely been overlooked by history. The Mid-America All-Indian Center’s new “Indians in Aviation” exhibit fills in those historical gaps. It tells the stories of the many Indians who moved to Wichita during the war years to work behind the scenes making airplanes at Boeing Wichita, Cessna Aircraft Co. and Beech Aircraft. The public is invited to the exhibit’s all-day public opening on Saturday, May 10 at the Indian Center, 650 N. Seneca. Admission is $1 for the general public and free for Indian Center members.
 “The Indian Center commissioned a full-length documentary specifically for this exhibit that allows viewers to connect with more than two dozen veterans, family members and historians as they recount their roles in the war effort and the roots Indian families laid down in Wichita,” said Museum Director Deborah Roseke. “These are people who didn’t pick up and leave after the war was over. They saw Wichita as a place where there could unite and preserve the histories of their many different tribes. Those feelings eventually led to the creation of the inter-tribal Mid-America All-Indian Center in 1969.”
The day’s schedule includes:
10 a.m.-4 p.m.: “Indians in Aviation” exhibit open to the public. Notable pieces on display include:
  • Photograph taken in 1951 that shows President Dwight D. Eisenhower and Boeing Leader J. Earl Schaefer in Wichita with Francis Stumblingbear (Kiowa) and Gordon Bushyhead (Cherokee) in front of the Boeing Scout plane they helped to build. The photo is on loan to the Indian Center from the personal collection of Wichitan and Cherokee Elder Marilyn Kindsvatter. 
  • Large-scale model of a Boeing-built B-29 Superfortress aircraft on loan from the Kansas Aviation Museum. A total of 2,766 B-29’s were built at Boeing plants in Wichita and Renton, Wash. They were primarily used in the Pacific theater during World War II.
10 a.m.-1 p.m.: Re-enactors from the World War II History Center in El Dorado will be in the Museum to interact with visitors.
1 p.m.-3 p.m.: Presentation of the full-length “Indians in Aviation” film, which will be followed by a Q&A with local filmmaker Doug Robertson and members of his film crew.
“Indians in Aviation” will be on display through the end of the year. The Indian Center Museum is open 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday. Regular admission is $7 for adults and $3 for youth ages 6-12. Children under 6 are admitted free of charge. For more information, go to or call 316-350-3340.
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