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Local News

May 16, 2014

Stomp dancing, art and sports ahead at Chickasaw Reunion

Ada — KULLIHOMA – The Chickasaw Nation will celebrate its 17th Annual Reunion here May 16-17. Everyone is invited to join in activities both fun and educational as Chickasaws and friends celebrate and share the tribe’s timeless culture, history and traditions.

Family fun, festivities, arts, crafts, archery are on the agenda for the annual event.

Located 8 miles east of Ada on state Highway 1, simply follow the signs to the campground.

Chickasaw artisans will bring an abundance of hand-crafted items to the reunion, from beaded jewelry to bows and arrows.

One activity re-introduced this year is a centuries-old contest called “Chunky.” Historians believe the game — where spears are thrown at a disc propelled along the ground – is as old as 600 A.D. Southeastern woodland tribes, such as the Chickasaw and the other Five Civilized Tribes, played Chunky.

A demonstration of the game will be held at 10:30 a.m. Saturday, May 17. The actual Chunky tournament is scheduled the same day from 2-4 p.m.

Today, May 16

The reunion, or “Ittifama in the Chickasaw tongue” begins this evening.

Chickasaw Nation Director of Cultural Resources Eddie Postoak will offer a welcome and prayer and Chickasaw Honor Guardsmen will post the colors from 6-6:20 p.m. A traditional spring hamburger dinner will be served from 6:20-7 p.m. and a youth and coed stickball social game will be played from 6:30-8 p.m. Dixie Brewer, cultural revitalization specialist, will host a storytelling event in the Kullihoma Council House from 8:05-8:35 p.m.

From 8:45-10 p.m. will be singing and stomp dancing.

Saturday, May 17

Bring the kids’ fishing poles. A youth fishing derby will open reunion activities from 8:30-10 a.m.

Events include a traditional cornstalk shoot competition; horseshoe tournament; trail rides with Chickasaw Rangers; craft classes, storytelling, Loksi (turtle) races, youth archery, and hymns performed in both Chickasaw and Choctaw languages.

Stomp dancing runs 9 p.m. to 2 a.m Saturday. The stomp dance is an ancient Chickasaw tradition dating back to the dawn of the tribe. Historically, the dance has its roots in the Green Corn Ceremony, springtime celebration harvest, redemption and forgiveness. Men sing stomp dance songs in a call-and-answer format, following a male song leader, who often sets the dance rhythm using a handheld turtle shell rattle.

Women enhance the rhythms with shakers made from box-turtle shells worn on their legs. The use of turtle shells are intended to show respect and gratitude to the animal world for providing so many good things for the people.

Chickasaws believe the fire at the center of the dance circle is the embodiment of Aba' binni'li' (God) on earth and the smoke carries prayers to the Creator. Stomp dances move counterclockwise around the fire, which mimics the movement of the sun.

No reservations are required, there is no admission fee and free parking on the 1,500-acre campground.

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