Choctaw Nation takes over Tourist Information Center in Colbert - KTEN.com - No One Gets You Closer

Choctaw Nation takes over Tourist Information Center in Colbert

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COLBERT -- New-combers to the state of Oklahoma can now get the flavor of local culture minutes after crossing the state line.

Today, the Choctaw Nation celebrated the grand opening of its new Tourism Information Center on Highway 69/75 in Colbert.

The nation took over operations of the facility on July 1 under a five-year lease agreement with the Oklahoma Tourism Department.

"As a cost-saving measure, we have entered into leases with the Cherokee Nation, with the Chickasaw Nation and the Choctaw Nation to lease some of those properties," Tourism secretary Deby Snodgrass said.

Activities for the grand opening included social dancing, stick ball, traditional weaponry, and flute-playing.

In all, the Choctaw Nation says it spent about $400,000 on interior renovations and additions to the center, which include a new dog park, a rock and plaque for a message tree once used as a post for communication, and an "Alaksha," or winter home.

The Choctaws never lived in teepees, the built two types of homes, one for the summer and one for the winter. Today, though, the Choctaws live in modern homes, but built a Alaksha at the travel center as a tribute to their tradition.

"We have a great gateway here between Texas and Oklahoma and the more people we can come here, the more our economy is going to grow, the better we can improve the lives of our tribal members, the people in north Texas, the people in southeast Oklahoma, and that's what its all about," Choctaw assistant chief Gary Batton said.

Batton says the centers proximity to the state line is a plus for the point of the entire project: to make as many people as possible aware of Choctaw culture in the only place in the world to find it.

The center also offers maps and brochures about Oklahoma. It is open every day except Thanksgiving and Christmas.