MIAMI - Ben Barnes, second chief of the Shawnee Tribe, announced today the appointment of Marnie Leist as the Executive Director of the Shawnee Tribe Cultural Center.

“The Shawnee Tribe has found our executive director for our new cultural center. From our first interview, we could see how her accomplishments at the Alutiiq Museum would be a fantastic fit within our own organization. The professionalism, immersion, and desire for knowledge while Marnie was the Alutiiq Museum will most certainly guide the Tribe’s mission of telling the story of the Shawnee people,” Barnes said. "The Shawnee Tribe Cultural Center will provide a venue for the tribe and her citizens to explore and tell their own stories, as well as create opportunities for the general public to experience Shawnee history and culture through the eyes of Shawnee people."

The $2 million, 6,000 square feet facility has an anticipated opening date of February 2018. The Shawnee Tribe Cultural Center will be located next to the Northeastern Oklahoma Inter-Tribal building at 108 Eight Tribes Trail in Miami.

Moving from Ohio to Kodiak, Alaska, Leist joined the highly ambitious team at the Alutiiq Museum and Archaeological Repository in 2005. With a Master of Arts in Art History and a Museum Studies Graduate Certificate from the University of Cincinnati, she became known as a leader in best practices. She advanced the care of the museum’s extensive holdings, helping to preserve over 250,000 objects in perpetuity. She was instrumental in obtaining national accreditation for the museum, becoming the second accredited tribal museum in the country.

On the remote island, with its stormy seas, vast black sand beaches, and moss-covered spruce forests, Leist had many opportunities that went way beyond the norm.

From programs such as Community Archaeology and Traveling Traditions, to creating exhibits with international partners, to the daily work of serving the public, their tight-knit staff created an inviting environment to celebrate Alutiiq culture.

Recently, her conception of the museum’s first interactive exhibit, "Pililuki-Make Them!" was awarded the Museums Alaska Award of Excellence.

In her career, she has over 13 years of museum and non-profit experience as a Board member, volunteer, and staff member.

“The creativity that Marnie Leist fostered at the Alutiiq Museum will allow the Shawnee people to have a place to be their own storyteller,” said Barnes. “Her leadership experience will ensure the cultural center is relevant to our Shawnee community and sustainable for many years to come.”