Thousands enjoy Chickasaw Cultural Center opening - - Texoma news, weather and sports

Thousands enjoy Chickasaw Cultural Center opening

Posted: Updated:


SULPHUR, Okla. - More than 1,000 visitors experienced Chickasaw culture during the July 24 opening day of the Chickasaw Cultural Center. Opening of the center was the culmination of a decades-long dream for Chickasaw people. 

"Chickasaws of all ages and from all walks of life helped make that dream a reality," said Gov. Anoatubby. "This beautiful place reflects the vision, imagination and spirit of the Chickasaw people. It is a magnificent place where Chickasaw people embrace the culture and heritage which binds us together as a people. It also provides an incredible venue where we are able share our culture with others."

Binod Manandhar, from Kathmandu, Nepal, said his visit to the cultural center was a "true learning experience."

"The exhibits were very informative and interesting. I learned a lot about the Native American culture, traditions and origin," said Mr. Manandhar, who is in Oklahoma visiting relatives. He added that he was "very impressed by the grand physical structures and facilities, especially the Traditional Village."

Dr. Amanda Cobb-Greetham, administrator of the Chickasaw Nation Division of History and Culture, said the center offers several ways to embrace Chickasaw culture.

"The key to the Traditional Village and the Culture Center is not just to see things, but to do things," said Dr. Cobb-Greetham. "For example, on any given day, visitors can learn about genealogy, history, stomp dancing, cultivating indigenous plants, stickball, arts and crafts, and the list goes on."

Jeremy Wallace, who serves as a cultural instructor at the center, said that passing the culture along to the younger generation is very important.

"Anytime I have the opportunity to present my culture -- I'm open -- I want to show the world that we are Chickasaw," said Mr. Wallace. "We're here to express the importance of Chickasaw culture -- and how it keeps our tribe alive.

"The feeling I get out of it when I sing and dance -- is a very spiritual feeling. I feel the spiritual well being of my ancestors -- it's almost like they move with you. You can feel the presence of our ancestors here with us."

Dr. Cobb-Greetham said that the cultural center tells the Chickasaw story from the ancient past to the present day.

"The Chickasaw Cultural Center is unexpected. It is like nothing else that people have ever seen," said Dr. Cobb-Greetham. "The Spirit Forest represents our most ancient sense of ourselves."

In the Spirit Forest, technology and theatrical effects mimic the natural sights and sounds of a forest to tell the ancient Chickasaw story.

What is perhaps most striking when you enter the forest is the degree of realism of the physical components.

But the physical elements of the forest are only the beginning. Designers of the forest have concealed projectors, theatrical lighting, infrared motion detectors, timers, speakers and other advanced technological equipment within various elements of the forest.

Stories of ancient ancestors, mounds and artifacts and the separation of the Chickasaw and Choctaw Nations are continued in separate galleries.

The interactive Removal area tells the story of the Chickasaw journey from the southeastern homelands to Indian Territory.

A variety of language learning stations are placed throughout the Exhibit Center. Touch a picture of an object, hear the Chickasaw word aloud and repeat the word into a microphone. Then hear your own voice speaking the Chickasaw word.

A large-format theater featuring a 40'x 60' screen and seating 350 viewers serves as a venue to tell the Chickasaw story.

"Pearl," the true story of a Chickasaw girl who became the youngest licensed pilot in the U.S. in 1928, is being featured through Sunday, August 1.

Produced by the Chickasaw Nation, "Pearl" focuses on the tumultuous teen years of the late Pearl Carter Scott, the daughter of a successful businessman in Marlow, Oklahoma who witnessed the world around her change from prosperity in the late 1920s into the Dust Bowl days of the 1930s.

Mr. Manandhar said he enjoyed the film.

"The movie provided a clear picture of what life in rural Oklahoma must have been like in that era," he said.

Joe Busch, from Oklahoma City said "commitment" was the first thing that came to mind when he entered the cultural center.

"It is all equally impressive and illustrates the pride of the Chickasaw Nation," said Mr. Busch.

In the photo: Dixie Brewer demonstrates the art of pottery at the Chickasaw Cultural Center Grand Opening, Saturday, July 24 in Sulphur, Okla. Photo by Marcy A. Gray.