Since opening in 2010, the Chickasaw Cultural Center in Sulphur, Oklahoma has had more than 172,000 visitors from all over the world come to experience Chickasaw culture and learn about the Chickasaw story.
Some of its most recent visitors were 51 members of Friendship Force Oklahoma and the Friendship Force Exchange Program on April 22. Visitors came from Australia, Japan, Canada, Kentucky, California, Washington, Oregon, Nebraska, Maine, Iowa, Arizona and Tennessee to learn about the Chickasaw culture.
The group toured the 109-acre center, participated in a stomp dance demonstration and enjoyed some Indian tacos.
“I enjoyed participating in the stomp dance; you get the rhythm and get moving,” said Andrea Ling, from Perth, Australia.
The center is becoming an international tourist destination having also had visitors from Nepal, Scotland, Ireland, Russia, Germany, Bolivia, the United Kingdom and Bangladesh.
In 2012, it received a RedBud Award for Outstanding Attraction. “RedBud Awards represent the highest honor given in the Oklahoma tourism industry,” said Debra Bailey, President/CEO, Oklahoma Travel Industry Association, in a release.
“Chickasaw people worked together for decades to present this place as the center of living Chickasaw culture and create a world-class tourist destination,” said Chickasaw Nation Gov. Bill Anoatubby at the time. “We are thrilled that this vision of sharing our story, way of life and culture is now a reality.”
Alexander Verevikin, who visited the center from Surgut, Russia, compared the Chickasaw story to stories of Indigenous Peoples of northern Russia.
“I am really impressed with how you maintain your heritage and don’t forget your roots,” he said. “Several of my former classmates maintain an exhibit in Russia devoted to the native people of northern Russia. I am going to share my experience with them.”
The center uses live demonstrations, artifacts and natural outdoor spaces to tell the Chickasaw story from the past to the present.
Scott Jackson, Chickasaw, said the center is able to keep the setting natural while adding a modern flair and maintaining the integrity of his heritage.
“It’s not just what you see, it’s what you taste, what you feel and what you experience,” Jackson said.
The Chickasaw Cultural Center is located at 867 Charles Cooper Memorial Drive in Sulphur, Oklahoma. It is open Monday through Saturday from 10 a.m.-5p.m. and noon to 5 p.m. on Sundays.
For more information about the center, visit ChickasawCulturalCenter.com.