Come explore Native American history at these incredible Chickasaw attractions.
November is Native American Heritage Month, the perfect time to shine a light on the Chickasaw Nation’s rich culture and prolific contributions to our nation’s history.
The Chickasaws were skilled in agriculture and hunting. Known as the “Spartans of the Lower Mississippi Valley,” Chickasaws also played a vital role on the side of the English during the French and Indian War. After being removed from their homelands to Indian Territory in Oklahoma, the tribe created its own sovereign government and made contributions that are still evident today. The unconquered and unconquerable spirit of the Chickasaw Nation can be felt all throughout southern Oklahoma, and this month is a great time to explore. Take a look at the incredible Chickasaw attractions below to draw inspiration for your next getaway.
Chickasaw National Capitol
Situated in Capitol Square in Tishomingo, the Chickasaw National Capitol is an 8,000-square-foot, two-story structure that functioned as the seat of the tribe’s government until 1906, the cusp of Oklahoma’s statehood.
Construction began on this Victorian, gothic-style building in April 1898 using red granite pulled from the Pennington Creek quarry of Chickasaw Gov. R.M. Harris. After its sale to Johnston County in 1910, the Chickasaw Nation was able to repurchase its former capitol in 1992.
Today, the Chickasaw National Capitol is a museum that serves as a reminder of the Chickasaws’ fight for tribal identity and sovereignty. Admission is free, and group tours are available by reservation, limited to 14 people per tour.
As the focal point for the Chickasaw Nation Division of Arts and Humanities building, Chokma’si Gallery features rotating art exhibitions of authentic, handcrafted works by Chickasaw, Southeastern and other First American tribes.
There is also a space within Chokma’si Gallery to browse and shop fine First American art and handmade gifts like jewelry, wood turned pens, pottery, sculpture, photography, original paintings, textiles and more.
Fort Washita Historic Site and Museum
Fort Washita was built in 1842 in accordance with treaty obligations to maintain peace for the Chickasaw and Choctaw Nations in their new lands. The Chickasaw people faced many outside threats to their new home, from Republic of Texas militia attacks to constant raids by Plains Indians to the presence of traders and trappers.
Fort Washita operated as the southwestern-most military post for Union soldiers until the Civil War began in 1861. After being abandoned and occupied by Confederate forces through 1865, the fort was almost entirely destroyed at the end of the Civil War.
The Oklahoma Historical Society acquired Fort Washita in 1962 and began restoring it as a historic site and museum. Eventually, the Chickasaw Nation regained ownership in 2017 and continued restorations, leading to its placement on the National Register of Historic Places and designation as a National Historic Landmark.
Today, visitors can tour Fort Washita’s restored structures, witness Civil War reenactments and take part in the yearly fur trade era activities, which offer a glimpse into life pre- and mid-Civil War. Fort Washita hosts events throughout the year, including storytelling, outdoor movies and seasonal and holiday events for the whole family.
You can explore diverse Chickasaw arts and culture right in the heart of Oklahoma City. Exhibit C Gallery is filled with authentic pieces of work like jewelry, pottery, paintings and clothing that have been handcrafted by First American artists representing their communities throughout Oklahoma. All are on display and for sale in addition to the full line of Bedré Fine Chocolate, Chickasaw Press books and Pendleton items.
Don’t miss the colorful mural on the exterior wall created by Eric Tippeconnic. The 17-by-10-foot mural draws inspiration from his own Comanche heritage.
Bedrè Fine Chocolate
Native Americans like the Mayans and Aztecs first introduced chocolate to European explorers in the 1500s, and since 2000, the Chickasaw Nation has continued that cultural legacy through Bedrè Fine Chocolate.
Its 35,000-square-foot retail and production facility in Davis offers visitors an up-close view of the factory floor and production process – and free samples. Bedrè’s line of gourmet chocolate ranges from meltaways and bars to chocolate-covered potato crisps, wafers, gummy bears and more. The assortment of themed box sets make for a perfect gift for holidays and special occasions.
Though the factory and retail shop are easily accessible from I-35 and Highway 7, you can shop online and find Bedrè chocolates all over the state.
Chickasaw Cultural Center
Spanning 184 acres in Sulphur, the Chickasaw Cultural Center is one of the largest cultural centers in the U.S. The history and culture of the Chickasaw Nation unfolds before your eyes through traditional demonstrations, interactive exhibits, fine art galleries, artist events and First American genealogy resources.
In the Living Village, you’ll find a recreated traditional 1750s Chickasaw village with a spiral garden, Council House, summer and winter houses, a corn crib and a 40-foot-tall Sky Pavilion with a view of it all. Around the village, you’ll find demonstrators participating in a traditional Stomp Dance or game of Stickball.
Inside the Smithsonian-caliber museum, you can wander the Spirit Forest, alive with light, color and sound. Then, step through the Removal Corridor and Stomp Dance areas, filled with artwork, sounds and stories that chronicle First Americans’ forced removal after the Indian Removal Act of 1830.
Built to entertain, educate and enlighten, the Chickasaw Cultural Center is home to centuries of history and culture to explore during Native American Heritage Month.
ARTesian Gallery & Studios
Located in downtown Sulphur, ARTesian Gallery & Studios is a place to shop a variety of Chickasaw books and original artwork, music, jewelry, art supplies and more. The gallery space features rotating exhibitions that showcase Chickasaw and Southeastern artwork and provides a space for artists to demonstrate their craft.
ARTesian Gallery & Studios also houses five studio spaces typically used for visitors to participate in pottery or weaving classes. Classes are expected to return to this space in 2022, so be on the lookout for more information in the near future.
Chickasaw Council House Museum
Sitting adjacent to the Chickasaw National Capitol is the first Chickasaw Council House built in Indian Territory, which now houses one of the largest collections of Chickasaw art, artifacts and archived materials. A tour of the Chickasaw Council House Museum traces the history and culture of the First Americans and showcases contemporary Chickasaw artwork.
You can find authentic pottery, jewelry, beadwork and other Chickasaw artwork in the museum gift shop, along with a variety of souvenirs, books, music and Chickasaw language materials. Don’t forget to stop by the genealogy research center and the tribe’s 1853 log council house, where the tribe’s 1856 constitution was signed.