A five-day, outdoor festival.
New and exciting opportunities for adventure blossom when spring arrives. For centuries, the Chickasaw people have celebrated the changing of seasons and planting of essential crops, and today visitors are welcome to share in this connection to nature. Each spring, Chickasaws plant beans, corn and squash together using an ancient intercropping technique that allows each to support each other. Known as the Three Sisters, the plants flourish as the corn stalks grow and provide space for beans to vine, while squash below protects the soil’s moisture and adds nutrients.
This harmonious relationship is the inspiration behind the Three Sisters Celebration, a five-day outdoor festival with a host of activities including live stomp dance demonstrations, garden tours, storytelling, traditional foods and more, March 15-19 at the Chickasaw Cultural Center. Whether you join in-person or take advantage of its special online programming, centuries of Chickasaw art, history and traditions unfold at the Three Sisters Celebration. Here’s a look at what you can expect.
Traditional cooking and tasty flavors to try
A variety of food trucks will be on-site for visitors to enjoy throughout the celebration. Once in the traditional village, you’ll find demonstrators showing how Chickasaws bring the Three Sisters together for a garden-fresh stew. The beans, corn and squash are combined and simmered over an open fire, and you’ll even get a sample! Be sure to check out the video at the end to learn how you can make the Three Sisters Stew at home.
Outdoor cultural demonstrations
Chickasaw dancers will demonstrate traditional stomp dancing, an important aspect of the culture, especially in springtime. The song leader sets the dance rhythm using a turtle shell rattle as he sings the call-and-answer stomp dance song while women wear leg shakers made from box turtle shells to enhance the rhythm. Stomp dance demonstrations, storytelling and language lessons energize the village, which is truly an experience you won’t find anywhere else.
Unique Chickasaw artistry
From pottery and weaving to jewelry and beadwork, Chickasaws have passed down many forms of artistry for generations. Demonstrators at the Cultural Center can be found hand-dyeing yarn and cloth with organic materials, weaving baskets and sharing the significance of traditional Chickasaw craftsmanship. You can catch live outdoor artist experiences in the village along with make-and-take crafts for the kids. A perfect keepsake from your visit!
Tours of flourishing spring gardens
Of course, the heart of the Three Sisters Celebration lies in the gardens where the beans, corn and squash grow. The Spiral Garden located behind the traditional village provides fresh produce for the Cultural Center and allows visitors a chance to experience the Chickasaw connection with nature. See the reason for the season’s celebration with a tour of the gardens, and you’ll get an inside look at ancient Chickasaw planting techniques.
Sweeping views of the 1700s traditional village
Spanning across 184 acres, the Chickasaw Cultural Center is one of the largest of its kind. You can see everything in the traditional village from the Council House, stickball field, winter and summer houses and all the Three Sisters Festivities from the 40-foot Sky Pavilion. This bird’s-eye view is perfect for taking it all in and planning what activity you’ll explore first – or for snapping photos!
There’s so much to do, see and taste at this five-day festival. It will be a great addition to a Spring Break staycation, whether you join in-person or online!
Want to learn how to make Three Sisters Stew?
Check out this video from Chickasaw.tv for a look at how this traditional dish is made from ingredients grown from the CNC gardens. A delicious and nutritious meal that the whole family can enjoy. It’s vegan and vegetarian-friendly, too!