A center created to preserve, celebrate and share with the world the culture and history of a proud nation is set to open Saturday.
After 20 years of conception and six years of construction, the Chickasaw History and Cultural Center in Sulphur is almost complete.
“Chickasaw people have long dreamed of a special place to celebrate, embrace and share the culture and heritage which binds us together as a people,” said Chickasaw Nation Governor Bill Anoatubby. “That dream has now become reality as we open a center which reflects the vision, imagination, resilience and spirit of the Chickasaw people.”
The center — built with stone, steel, timber, copper, glass and marble — seems to flow with nature and is nestled among wooded hills and fields of grass and wildflowers.
The center boasts state-of-the-art technology to help bring history to life for visitors. The Anoli’ Theater has stadium seating to accommodate 350 guests as they experience Chickasaw films projected on a massive 2,400-square-foot screen nearly four-stories tall.
Chickasha Poya Exhibit Center has many sensors which start recorded information as visitors near select exhibits. Guests can enjoy a walk through the “Spirit Forest” which comes to life with inspired design and special effects.
The Chickasha Inchokka Traditional Village sits upon several acres and offers guests the opportunity to experience and study what a Chickasaw Community would have looked like long ago. It is surrounded by a campus complete with a stickball field and Stomp Dance area.
Rather than just being several structures for visitors to tour and examine, Chickasaw Nation Division of History and Culture Administrator Dr. Amanda Cobb-Greetham said the Traditional Village will be alive with activity.
“Everyday, there will be people out there teaching, demonstrating, woodworking and flute making and beading and weaving and Stomp Dancing,” Cobb-Greetham said. “So this is going to be a place of constant activity.”
There is a reason the current location of the campus — 109 acres in all was selected.
“Sulphur is actually the center of the Chickasaw Nation boundaries,” Cobb-Greetham said. “It’s close to the interstate, but most importantly, this campus abuts the Chickasaw National Recreation Area which was originally Sulphur Springs Reservation and it was one of the first places following our removal from our homelands in Mississippi to Indian Territory.”
The Holisso Research Center will allow Chickasaws to trace their lineage by searching through historic papers and a genealogy collection. The Honor Garden, a special and unique element of the Chickasaw Cultural Center, features marble plaques commemorating all the members of the Chickasaw Hall of Fame and is located near the entrance of the campus.
Aaimpa Café serves Chickasaw cultural dishes including fry bread and pashofa. There is no admission fee to enter and tour the campus but a $6 fee is charged for adults to enter the Chickasha Poya Exhibit Center with special pricing for veterans, seniors and children.
For more information about the center, visit www.chickasawculturalcenter.com.