Visitors invited to immersive activities year-round at Chickasaw Cultural Center
Opportunities to be immersed in the vibrant and dynamic culture of the Chickasaw people await on the 184-acre campus of the Chickasaw Cultural Center. The cultural center is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday, and noon to 5 p.m. Sunday. The center is closed on all national holidays.
Opened in July 2010, Chickasaw Nation Governor Bill Anoatubby said the cultural center was built by Chickasaws to be a “home” for all Chickasaws.
“This is truly a unique and extraordinary venue because it reflects the vision, creativity and perseverance of the Chickasaw people,” Gov. Anoatubby said. “For generations, individuals and families have worked to revitalize and preserve our culture to ensure Chickasaws remain a united and unconquerable people. This center serves as a unique place to honor those efforts as we celebrate and share the history and cultural legacy of the Chickasaw people.”
Visitors to the center will experience many aspects of Chickasaw culture including art, food, dance, music, language and history. Each is demonstrated by Chickasaws whose spirit and pride are unmistakable. The Chickasaw people are eager to share their culture and traditions with all visitors.
Traditional aspects of Chickasaw culture on display include beading, basketry, stomp dance, stickball and other culturally significant activities. Some of the features of the tranquil campus include an interactive exhibit hall, large-format theater, café, honor garden, water features, art galleries, outdoor sculptures and a genealogy and research library, Holisso: The Center for Study of Chickasaw History and Culture.
An outdoor amphitheater, with seating for hundreds of audience members, offers a unique venue for cultural demonstrations, dance groups, storytelling, bands, choirs and other performances.
The four-story Sky Bridge overlooks the Chikasha Inchokka Traditional Village. The village is a replica of houses, structures and grounds from the Chickasaw Homeland during the years 1700 to 1750.
The village includes traditional Chickasaw homes, a stomp dance area for demonstrations, a stickball field and a Three Sisters garden. When the weather is nice, the village hosts cultural instructors demonstrating traditional crafts such as beadwork, basketry and pottery, tanning hides, bow making and flute making. Each detail of the center’s architecture, including copper, water, stone and wood, is incorporated throughout the campus due to its significance to Chickasaw culture.
The Chickasaw Cultural Center is a wonderful place to visit year-round as daily cultural activities take place. As the calendar changes, so do many of the activities at the Chickasaw Cultural Center. A variety of unique experiences tailored for each season can be discovered at the Chickasaw Cultural Center. These fun and educational events intermingle Chickasaw traditions into the daily festivities.
During the crisp autumn days and extending into the holiday season, several weekend events designed to educate and entertain are scheduled.
Fall Festival, Oct. 20
Usher in the new season during the Fall Festival, Saturday, Oct. 20. Festivities in the Traditional Village include cultural demonstrations, traditional games, a pumpkin patch where kids can pick out and decorate their own pumpkin, and food arbors featuring roasted corn, pashofa and grape dumplings. “Spooky Tales” will be shared by traditional Chickasaw storytellers who will spin haunted tales and ghostly stories during the event.
Multi-Tribal Day, Nov. 3
Diverse Native American cultures from across the country will congregate at the cultural center from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 3, to celebrate MultiTribal Day. A variety of native nations will share their dances, provide food and craft demonstrations, display their elaborate tribal regalia and craftsmanship, play ancient games and share other traditional activities. Traditional games will include stickball, archery, marbles and squirrel stick throwing. Food samples will include pashofa, fry bread, three sisters stew, banaha and more.
Veterans Celebration, Nov. 10-11
Veterans will be honored Saturday, Nov. 10, and Sunday, Nov. 11, during the annual Veterans Celebration. Activities will include special stomp dance demonstrations to honor military personnel, cultural demonstrations and interactive attractions in the living village (weather permitting.) Active military and veterans receive free admission into the Chikasha Poya Exhibit Center and a special discount in the Aaimpa Café.
Thanksgiving Celebration, Nov. 24-25
Join us for the Chickasaw Cultural Center’s Thanksgiving Celebration Saturday, Nov. 24, and Sunday, Nov. 25. Special activities will include a Native American miniature ornament class and a children’s Christmas ornament workshop. Activities in the Traditional Village will include stomp dance demonstrations and other cultural activities. Special sales will be available in the gift shop. Traditional cuisine and American favorites can be enjoyed at the Aaimpa Café.
Celebration of Lights begins Nov. 24
Cruise through the cultural center campus for the dazzling drive-thru light display every evening from 6 to 9 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 24, through Monday, Dec.
31. Dozens of displays featuring traditional Christmas themes and Chickasaw greetings are included in the colorful light display.
While at the cultural center, visit the Aapisa Art Gallery for the holiday-themed Festival of Trees from Saturday, Nov. 24, to Monday, Dec.
31. Christmas trees will be decorated by Chickasaw Nation employees to reflect the services they provide in their respective departments. Visitors are encouraged to cast their vote for the best tree.
Christmas Celebration & Holiday Arts Market, Dec. 8
Enjoy a variety of holiday activities, including pictures with Santa, a Christmas concert performed by the Chickasaw Language Committee, ornament workshops, makeand-take crafts, stomp dance demonstrations and more. A special Holiday Arts Market will feature an array of art by Chickasaw artists. All events are open to the public at no charge.
Sharing the story
The Chikasha Poya exhibit center showcases a timeline of Chickasaw history, from the mound building society of the Southeastern United States to the current-day Chickasaw Nation. Traditional oral stories begin in the mosaic room and continue into a replica eighteenth-century council house theater. Following a short film, “Chickasaw Renaissance,” the screen rises, and the audience is beckoned into a Spirit Forest that represents the most ancient sense of Chickasaw culture.
The exhibit hall tells the story of the Chickasaws’ first contact with Europeans, including Hernando de Soto. From there, guests head to the Removal Corridor, where sounds and stories tell of the difficult journey from the traditional Homeland to Indian Territory. After Indian Territory, the Civil War and the warrior exhibit, to name a few, the tour concludes at the Stomp Dance Gallery, which features a larger-than-life hologram simulation of modern-day Chickasaws as they continue the centuries-old tradition of stomp dance around a campfire.
The Chickasaw Cultural Center provides accessibility to exhibits through a handheld video magnifier that provides the magnification to read or see details. Transcripts are also available to anyone who is hearing-impaired. In addition, guests with mobility issues may use one of our wheelchairs free of charge or ride in a golf cart to any spot on the campus.
World class exhibits in Chickasaw Country
In the past nine years, the Chickasaw Cultural Center has partnered with organizations across the globe to present world-class exhibits in Chickasaw Country, including the “1700s Beadwork of Southeastern Tribes” collection, which was on loan from the University of Aberdeen in Scotland, and “Sculpting Cultures: Southeast and Southwest Native Pottery” with the Indian Arts Research Center at the School for Advanced Research and the Museum of the Red River.
The “Te Ata” exhibit is open until Nov. 11 in the Aapisa’ Art Gallery. Explore the life of Mary “Te Ata” Thompson Fisher and her journey to become one of the greatest Native American performers of all time. View items owned and worn by Te Ata, as well as memorabilia and props from the recently released, award-winning film of the same name.
Massive outdoor sculptures, such as “The Arrival” by Chickasaw artist Mike Larsen and Joanna Underwood’s southeastern pottery sculptures, along with beautiful water and rock features and native landscaping, are featured on the campus.
A connection to nature can be discovered at the Chickasaw Cultural Center through horticulture tours of their gardens and campus. Butterfly gardens are featured at the cultural center as well. Monarch butterflies are welcomed and protected at the Chickasaw Cultural Center, and a Monarch butterfly day is conducted each spring and fall, featuring handson educational activities teaching monarch-saving actions, special guest speakers and fun-filled learning experiences. Since its opening day July 24, 2010, the Chickasaw Cultural Center has hosted more than 725,000 guests from across the globe.
A stickball game at the Chickasaw Cultural Center in Sulphur.
The Spiral Garden at the Chickasaw Cultural Center in Sulphur.
The Inkana Bridge connects the Chickasaw Cultural Center to the Chickasaw National Recreation Center in Sulphur.
A stomp dance at the Chickasaw Cultural Center.