By Amanda LaMora
Native American Heritage Month is a time to honor the first people of this land we call America. People whose voices were nearly silenced altogether due to colonization, removal from their homelands on the Trail of Tears and schools who taught them their Native tongue was a sin.
Thankfully, we’ve come a long way since those dark days, and the voices of indigenous Americans have risen once again, establishing their presence through the ties of faith, family and culture that bind them together.
Visit the Choctaw Cultural Center this November, and you’ll find the stories of the Choctaw people aren’t confined to the annals of history books – they live on today, rebirthed again and again with each generation. And with each guided tour, hands-on workshop and sensory experience, it’s easy to find your own thread in the tapestry that weaves us all together.
There’s more to the Choctaw Cultural Center than tours and relics, though. It’s a living, breathing experience that will move you, stick with you; it may even change you. Take a look at our top seven reasons to visit the Choctaw Cultural Center this November, and you’ll see why:
1. Choctaw Powwow Weekend
We’re kicking off the festivities at the Choctaw Cultural Center on November 3rd with Choctaw Day – a celebration of Choctaw culture that includes live demonstrations, traditional games, singing, dancing and refreshments.
Journey across the highway to the Choctaw Event Center where the celebration continues with the annual Choctaw Powwow – one of the largest in the nation, drawing participation from more than 50 tribes across the country. Join us for Tribal singing and dancing, indigenous arts and crafts, stickball matches, delicious food and so much more. Admission is free and everyone is welcome!
2. Lose Yourself in the Exhibition
The Choctaw Cultural Center was intentionally designed to be a truly immersive experience. From the moment you walk in the door, the smell of sweetgrass permeates the air and the sound of water can be heard trickling over the water feature across the room. Activate a story by sliding your palm into the depression of a handprint on a stone wall. Feel your heart skip as you walk through a historically accurate landscape so realistic, you’ll realize those believably real people in the forest are actually figures made of wax.
3. The Kids Will Have Fun, Too
Let the little ones loose at the Luksi Activity Center, where they’ll have a chance to explore in a safe and fun environment. Whether they’re listening to stories in the storytelling room, participating in hands-on, group activities or sliding down the giant luksi (turtle) slide, they’ll get an immersive experience tailored to their interests.
4. Experience a Live Demonstration
From basketweaving and beaded jewelry-making to social dancing and games of stickball, each live demonstration offers the unique chance to experience the living culture of the Choctaw people. Join us Tuesday – Saturday, beginning at 1pm, to catch these mini displays of skills that have been passed down through countless generations.
5. Step Into the Past at the Living Village
Step outside, and you’ll get a small taste of what life may have been like for our ancestors. The walking path will lead you around life-size replicas of Choctaw winter and summer homes, a corn crib, stickball fields and a towering mound – an homage to Nanih Waiya from the origin stories of the Choctaw people.
6. Dine On Indigenous Cuisine
It’s easy to work up an appetite with all that walking. Thankfully, there’s a tasty array of entrées on-site at Champuli Café. Explore traditional, indigenous foods like a comforting bowl of tanchi labona, savory Indian tacos, handmade banaha bread and grape dumplings, or choose from favorites like the classic cheeseburger, golden chicken tenders, mouthwatering sandwiches and more.
7. Stock up on Unique Merch
Commemorate your visit with authentic Choctaw merchandise from the Hvshi Gift Store, including gorgeous handmade baskets and vibrant prints from Native artists. You’ll also find toys for the kids, T-shirts, home décor and various sundries.