By Kendra Germany-Wall
From the Nov. 2021 Biskinik
Fall is the perfect time for a road trip, and Choctaw Country is the perfect backdrop for a fun-filled weekend getaway. There are so many fun things to do in the area this fall, truly something for everyone. If you consider yourself a foodie, Choctaw Country is home to some of the state’s best culinary hotspots, breweries, and wineries.
If learning more about Choctaw culture and history piques your interest, consider adding the Choctaw Cultural Center to your list of road trip destinations. This breathing, living experience is a must see, especially during Native American Heritage Month. The award-winning Choctaw Cultural Center, located in Calera, invites you to immerse yourself in the story of the Choctaw people through 14,000 years of history.
The building spans over 100,000 square feet and houses two exhibit halls, an auditorium, a children’s play area, as well as a café and gift store. On a daily basis, guests can immerse themselves in Choctaw history and culture through tours, classes, and workshops, participate in a game of stickball or try out social dancing.
From the moment you walk through the door, you are sure to be amazed by the beauty and ambiance of this remarkable place. Everything down to the tiniest details has been crafted with the Choctaw people in mind. The diamond and basketweave textures throughout the main lobby reflect essential elements of Choctaw tradition. Even the stone used for the floor around the Central Fire was quarried locally in Stigler.
As you make your way through the immersive permanent exhibit, you may even recognize some familiar faces. Living Choctaw tribal members are reflected in the life casts throughout the landscapes. These life casts, created from 3-D scans and plaster casts of tribal members, lend an even higher level of authenticity to the exhibits. These exhibitions bring technology and tradition together to tell the story of the Choctaw people.
The Luksi Activity Center was created with the young (and young at heart) in mind. Featuring two different styles of Choctaw dwellings, a log slide and a giant Luksi (turtle) where children can sit and hear traditional stories, this area is sure to become a favorite spot to learn about the Choctaw culture through play.
Just outside of the main building, step back in time to the Choctaw Living Village. In this spacious outdoor section of the Center, you will see demonstrations of traditional Choctaw crafts, dances, stickball and gardening techniques. You can also take a stroll around the magnificent ceremonial mound, modeled after Nanih Waiya, the Mother Mound, located in the Choctaw homelands of modern-day Mississippi.
The Choctaw Cultural Center also offers a variety of learning experiences for guests of all ages. Immersive experiences and cultural interactions are sure to become special memories. There is something for everyone from cultural art forms, social dancing, and learning how to make your own traditional meal. Guests can participate in various lessons, workshops, programs and demonstrations throughout the Choctaw Cultural Center. The facility also houses multiple classrooms, including a teaching kitchen and a pottery room.
Classes offered include Chahta 101, which highlights the history, government, culture and language of the Choctaw people. Another class offered is Chahta Anumpa, which seeks to promote the pronunciation of the Choctaw language and general understanding of words within the Choctaw Cultural Center. Each class runs for approximately 20 minutes.
More in-depth workshops, approximately an hour-long, are also offered at the Choctaw Cultural Center. Workshops recommended for those 12 and under are offered on Thursdays and Saturdays. Workshops for those 12 and over are offered on Fridays and Saturdays. New classes and workshops are added every month. School/group visits are also available upon request. For more information or to reserve a school/group visit, call 833-708-9582 or visit choctawculturalcenter.com.
The Choctaw Cultural Center is dedicated to exploring, preserving, and showcasing the culture and history of the Choctaw people, bringing the Chahta spirit of faith, family and culture to life. Today is the day to start planning your visit. The Choctaw Cultural Center is located at 1919 Hina Hanta Way Calera, OK 74730. The entrance is located off Choctaw Road, west of the intersection of Choctaw Road and Highway 69/75 in Durant. Guests of all ages are welcome.
Admission is complimentary for Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma tribal members. General admission for adults is $12. Discounts are available for children, veterans, senior citizens and college students. Hours: Wednesday – Friday, 10:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. Saturday, 10:00 a.m. – 7:00 p.m. Sunday 11:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. Closed: Monday and Tuesday. For more information, visit choctawculturalcenter.com.