PSS Goes to the Chickasaw Cultural Center
Let’s take a little virtual roadtrip today! A few weeks ago, Jude and I were invited to head down to Sulphur, Oklahoma to check out the (relatively) new Chickasaw Cultural Center. A few years ago Simon and I took the “back roads” to OKC from Dallas, and we zipped through Sulpur on our way. It struck me then as a charming little town with a lovely national park that definitely deserved more exploring and so I was only so happy to accept the invitation to check it all out again.
I’m a lifelong Oklahoman, but there are still plenty of nooks and crannies of our fair state that I’ve yet to explore. The majority of my experiences exploring small towns in Oklahoma can be summed up this way:
9th Grade Oklahoma History Trip.
And odds are, if you grew up in Oklahoma, you probably went on a similar trip. A pimply smattering of 15 year olds in knee-length shorts and braces traveling around by bus with no air-conditioning? Yeah, it was time to amend that memory and take Jude on a little Oklahoma History Trip of our own. Suffice it to say – it was definitely 10x more fun than the 9th grade version. And? It involved gourmet chocolate. But more on that later.
Here’s my tiny ode to 9th grade Oklahoma History geography projects so you can get an idea of the lay of the land:
Less than two hours from Oklahoma City, the entire campus of the Chickasaw Cultural Center is impressive. From the initial drive and warm welcome you receive to the copper-clad buildings that dot the landscape, my initial thought was that this was definitely one of the most well-designed museum sites in Oklahoma. The copper buildings were what really stopped me in my tracks. There was copper everywhere. The water features and lovely landscaping were calming and felt restful. In some ways it reminded me of the Getty Center in LA – a series of architecturally-striking buildings amidst an impressive array of gardens and outdoor areas that make you want to be outside for hours.
The Chickasaw Cultural Center staff that greeted us were so sweet and gracious. We were treated like royalty and they ushered us from building to building, giving us the full tour. We were treated to lunch in their fantastic on-site cafe (indian tacos!) that boasted an impressive range of native Chickasaw offerings.
I was particularly in love with the wall of mosaics as we waited to enter the beginning of the tour. And that lovely domed skylight was painted to represent the smoke that rises from the Chickasaw campfires.
All of the exhibits could probably be best described as experiences. They’re far more hands-on than most museums or similar cultural centers I’ve visited. Jude was thrilled to get his hands on everything.
I’m kicking myself now for not getting a photo of the impressive Sky Pavilion that leads from the main campus and overlooks a valley where the Chickasaw Village resides. You can either take the stairs or follow a winding path down to the village where you can experience what life would have been like in a traditional village. On the day we were there, a variety of activities were taking place including stomp dances, stickball, face painting, and demonstrations in archery.
One guess which one was Jude’s favorite. Go ahead – I’ll wait while you figure it out. 😉
I’m no expert, but I think you should have your eyes open if you’re going to engage in that kind of activity.
All in all, it’s the perfect little family adventure and an easy trip from where we live. By the time mid-afternoon rolled around, Jude was melting down, so we said our goodbyes and hopped in the car. We did a quick little tour of Sulphur. Additionally, the town is seeing the rebuilding of the Artesian, an old hotel that was the cornerstone of the original downtown area (OKC people could compare it to what the Skirvin once was, and has now been restored to). The website looks like it’s up and running, but it was my understanding that it’s not quite ready for visitors yet? Any clarification from anyone on that?
Regardless, I’d love to get away back down to Sulphur for a weekend with Simon and Jude. I was pretty surprised at how much there was to do in the area between the Chickasaw Cultural Center and the national park. And finally on the way back, we hit the Bedre chocolate headquarters for a snack to sustain us on the drive home.
Big thanks to the Chickasaw Country team for treating us to such a fun little Spring Break getaway. You guys really showed us a good time! But they want to give you guys some passes too. Chickasaw Country is offering up two adult passes and two youth passes to the winner of the giveaway here. There’s lots of ways to enter.
Chickasaw Cultural Center
867 Charles Cooper Memorial Road
Sulphur, OK 73086
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