SULPHUR – Several hundred visitors filled the Chickasaw Cultural Center’s Traditional Village Nov. 3 to enjoy, learn and partake in dance, food, crafts and much more during Multi-Tribal Day.
Representatives of about a dozen tribal nations, including dancers, artisans, flutists and drum circles dressed in traditional regalia, took part in the event. The Chickasaw Nation rolled out the red carpet, serving traditional pashofa – a hominy-based soup which has sustained Chickasaws for centuries.
Patrons traveled from far and wide to witness tribal culture, learn ancient dance steps and taste a menu based on recipes passed down through the generations.
Chickasaws Linda Underwood and her husband, Darrell, set wood ablaze under an iron pot to cook pashofa long before the sun peeked through a partly cloudy sky.
“We were here in the dark, getting everything ready,” Mrs. Underwood said.
Chickasaw Virginia Bolen was enlisted to help the Underwoods serve pashofa as long lines of patrons sought to sample the ancient staple of the Chickasaw tribe.
“I think it’s pretty good. The pork and salt add flavor and texture,” said Hong Li Nguyen, a student at the University of North Texas at Denton. “The way in which it is prepared (in huge iron pots) would feed many people.”
A few steps away, Chickasaw citizen Debbie Walker and Choctaw citizen Janet Milburn, of Duncan, served up squirrel gravy for sampling. Debbie’s husband, Wayne, said the squirrel meat was provided by Chickasaw Nation Cultural Activities Manager Jesse Lindsey.
Squirrel gravy was prepared in the traditional Chickasaw manner, according to Debbie. The meat was seared and water was added to mix into gravy. Flour-based gravy was a rarity, she said.
“Chickasaws made do with resources available to them,” she said.
Lori Whitebuffalo and her young daughter, Mahlia, sampled the Walker contribution. It was obvious Mahlia loved it.
“She likes it very much,” said Lori, a Sulphur resident who watched as her daughter quickly consumed the dish.
A favorite among attendees was Cvse, a soup made from pumpkin. Seminole Nation citizen Janet Johnson-Maylen prepared the soup along with Ecko (corn soup) and Cvtvhakv (blue bread).
Tribes demonstrated traditional games, such as stickball – the forerunner of today’s lacrosse – and chunky, a spear-throwing contest. Beading, hide-tanning, weaponry, arrow-making, flint knapping and storytelling were demonstrated.
Glen Leming, a frequent demonstrator at such events, displayed weaponry and worked on smoothing a stem of river cane to make an arrow. River cane is difficult to find in Oklahoma. It was the preferred arrow-making material of ancient Chickasaws in Mississippi, where it could be found with ease.
“I like working with cane,” Leming said as he used a very sharp knife to cut the sectional pieces away from the cane to make it straight. “Chickasaws are growing it now because finding any in Oklahoma is tough.”
Multi-Tribal Day 2018 marked the eighth year the Chickasaw Nation has hosted the event.