Greg WadleyPhoto by Christian Toews

Greg Wadley speaks to the audience during the annual First Americans Museum gala.

Wadley honored for his contributions to preserving Native American culture

By Christian Toews
November 1, 2023

The First Americans Museum in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, held its annual gala on September 15, 2023. During the gala, Gregg Wadley was honored with a Distinguished Service Award.

Wadley was among six other guests honored that night for their contributions to preserving Native American Culture and supporting the First Americans Museum.

A proud Choctaw tribal member, Wadley raised in Tahlequah, Oklahoma.

“I was born a Choctaw. My dad was a Choctaw, and I’ve been proud of that all my life. He was proud of that and instilled that in me,” said Wadley.

After graduating from college, he began working in the oil and gas industry and briefly moved his family to Texas. Not long after moving back to Oklahoma, he founded DataCom Sciences Inc., which provides administrative, technical and systems services primarily to the federal government. This business grew into a large company of 650 employees in 22 states at its sale and merger with Chickasaw Nation Industries (CNI) in 2003. Wadley served as the CEO of CNI until 2009 and has totaled 38 years working with government contracts.

The gala in September highlighted the two-year anniversary of the opening of the First Americans Museum, but it has taken many years to bring the museum to life.

According to Wadley, the state of Oklahoma first initiated the museum in the 1990s. The Oklahoma legislature and the governor formed the Native American Cultural and Educational Authority (NACEA). He was appointed to the board of the NACEA by then-governor Keating and then joined the board of the First Americans Museum Foundation. Over the past 25 years, he has been a major contributor to the formation and success of the First Americans Museum.

Wadley’s success in business aligned with his lifelong passion to help his fellow Native Americans. “I think I’ve got kind of a servant’s mentality toward life,” said Wadley.

“But I’ve been very fortunate, and my wife and I decided when we were able to, we would support our passions, and the First Americans museum became one of my passions,” he continued.

The story of Native American culture was the overarching idea from the beginning of the museum’s conception. Wadley said he wanted people to learn the story of Native Americans directly from Native Americans. That has become a reality.

“Our curators are Native, and most of our staff are Native, and they have collected stories directly from the mouths of tribal members from all around the state,” he said. “I think we’ve done a great job of telling the story, and the world needs to know, to be educated about what Native Americans in America are. Not just the history but also the present. We still have much of our culture. We still absolutely enjoy our culture, and we cherish it, and we cherish our ancestry, and we’ve got values that go back thousands of years. I’m proud of that, and I think the world needs to know that.”

Although the museum is fully open, Wadley said there is still an unfinished dream that he hopes to complete.

According to Wadley, when the museum was built, it was a 190-million-dollar project, and they were forced to defer one section of the museum called the Family Discovery Center.

This area will be devoted to children and will require around 10 million dollars to complete.

Wadley urges anyone who can help bring this final project to fruition to get involved in completing “the last piece.”

During his acceptance speech at the gala, Wadley said he was thankful and proud of the museum’s success.

“I am honored and humbled to receive this distinguished service award. I wanted a world-class museum that attracted people from around the world because I wanted the world to be educated about the tribes here in Oklahoma,” said Wadley. “I really believe that education is the key word in what we are doing…I am thrilled to be a part of this project and to see it from beginning to end.”