(WSYR-TV) — The Oneida Indian Nation held a celebration for the start of construction for its new community and cultural center on Tuesday, September 13.

The center will be on Oneida Indian Nation lands and will help to revitalize its homelands and investments to preserve the community for generations to come.

Oneida Indian Nation Representative and Oneida Nation Enterprises CEO Ray Halbritter attended the celebration and was able to share his remarks on the center.

When we complete, the community center will be much more than just impressive features. It will truly be the center of our Nation – an investment in the very heart of our community and a permanent representation of all the history and meaning that term encompasses. Like all that we undertake, it will benefit not just those of us gathered here today, but our children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren unto the Seventh Generation. Here, they will find a vibrant community and a place they may always call home.

Oneida Indian Nation Representative and Oneida Nation Enterprises CEO Ray Halbritter

Renderings of the center courtesy of the Oneida Indian Nation:

The Oneida Nation says the 65,000-square-foot community center will be one of the largest tribal centers of its kind in the United States and some amenities include the following:

  • Areas for language and cultural programming and education
  • Spaces for community meals, and other gatherings
  • Library
  • Exhibit space
  • Field house for lacrosse games and cultural events
  • Natatorium with an accessible pool, children’s pool, and spa
  • Gymnasium
  • Fitness center
  • Running track
  • Play area
  • Conference rooms and office space

The community center will be infused with Oneida culture and traditions throughout the building. The entrance will include wooden slats to recreate the threading of a wampum belt to highlight the important connections between people and Nations. Inside the center’s culture core, the Oneida Nations says there will be a skylight in the shape of a feather and a stone floors with a snapping turtle shell pattern to emphasize the connection between the earth and the Creator with the Oneida Indian Nation.

Nation Members will also have additional housing available to them once construction starts this fall with the Oneida Neighborhoods Project. There will also be new road infrastructure due to the increase in residency.

The center is not only designed to provide resources and services for Nation Members but they also welcome Members of other tribal Nations and residents in the area.