Archives for posts with tag: Chickasaw National Recreation Area

Oklahoma is home to 38 Native American tribes, second in number of tribes only to California.  Our town and city names reflect the languages and influence on our history and there seems to be more and more positive appreciation of their individual heritages and customs.

There are many tribal headquarters as you pass through our state, but one of the biggest and newest is the Chickasaw Cultural Center in Sulphur, down in south central Oklahoma. 
DSC_0217Blocks from the Chickasaw National Recreation Area, you find a beautiful contemporary center with exhibits, meeting places, research center, and a cafe, art galleries and beautifully landscaped grounds.  The first thing we saw was corn growing on the roof of one of the buildings.  How wonderfully appropriate!DSC_0221We were greeted with signs in English and Chickasaw…DSC_0246DSC_0220and bronze tributes to the tribe…DSC_0224DSC_0228The exhibit hall had the latest in interactive displays showing the history and heritage of the tribe.DSC_0225My favorite were the various boards where you could press a copper disc and hear the words spoken in Chickasaw as well as used in a sentence.IMG_4909There was a model village with explanations spoken in each building.DSC_0232The day we were there, the center was hosting a children’s festival, one of the best I have seen.  There was so  much for kids and families to do and learn and everyone was friendly and inviting.  I loved watching some of the young men demonstrating stickball games, which I had learned in the center were more than just for fun in the tribes in the old days.DSC_0244To top off the whole exciting experience, the Chickasaw also own a chocolate factory, Bedre, located a few miles down the road on the interstate in Davis.  They are the only tribe to own a chocolate factory and the products are truly excellent.  They sell to stores such as Neiman-Marcus, so you know that it’s special.DSC_0216IMG_4922I’ve traveled many places on this planet and I keep finding beautiful spots close to home.  Every state has them for us to discover, so I’m not claiming we’re unique, but it’s fun to go down the road and make new memories close to home.  If you’re crossing our state or coming to spend awhile, don’t miss our not so hidden surprises.  As the Chickasaw say, “Chockma!”DSC_0245

Getting off the interstates takes you along some great secondary roads that lead to new adventures everywhere you go.  My friend and I travelled within Oklahoma, going south where both of our families have roots.

Her grandfather lived in Seminole, so we explored the downtown and found it full of treasures.  The streets are all brick…DSC_0111There are old signs to delight…DSC_0101And the bus station still functions…DSC_0113DSC_0105My friend was raised in Oregon, but has lived in Oklahoma during her adult life.  She acknowledged the beauty of the countryside as we drove, but was especially taken with Turner Falls.  She said she hadn’t believed that there was such a place in Oklahoma.  I grew up going by Turner Falls so it was a return to my childhood for me.DSC_0123DSC_0139The swimming hole wasn’t as crowded when we arrived around dinner time, so we enjoyed the beauty with just a few swimmers in the water.  We stopped at the old overlook, complete with the sign I remembered from my childhood.  Who has Curio Shops anymore?DSC_0144 DSC_0261We also discovered the place where everyone seemed to be stopping.  No wonder – they were delicious!DSC_0258 IMG_4920Our trip south ended in Ardmore, where my mother was born and I spent much of my childhood visiting my grandmother, aunts and uncles.  We took the old road in rather than the interstate.  The road through the Arbuckles that scared me as a child because it seemed high and had no shoulders and semis came at you around every curve was now a lovely drive into town.  When we saw the old standpipe in the distance, I felt one of those shivers of memory that go through you when you see something so familiar.DSC_0262There was so many memories in Ardmore and so much to learn about my family’s history there.  Downtown looked like it was hanging on..DSC_0199I found the bank where my uncle worked.  Walking through those doors as a child and seeing the brass cages where the tellers sat was most impressive.DSC_0191The high school where my mother graduated was still standing at least…DSC_0165And there were signs and places that I remembered well…DSC_0194 DSC_0195 DSC_0200 DSC_0205Central Park was across from my family’s historic home, long gone, but historic because it was built in the 1880s and was also the site of one of their wagon yards, one of the early ones in town.  I played in the park on this stage many a time since my aunt and uncle lived in the family house across the street until it was sold and replaced with an office, now an art gallery.DSC_0176I found both of the houses I remember my grandmother living in, changed but still recognizable, and the memories continued to flow.  A trip to the delightful museum left me with new insights to the place where my great-grandparents traveled from Texas to take their place in this new city.  DSC_0207My visit to the cemetery was touching as they all are buried neatly together, probably visited by nobody for many years since we all live in other parts of the state and country.  I have mixed feelings about cemeteries these days for that and other reasons.

We left Ardmore, driving to Sulphur and stopped at the Chickasaw National Recreations Area.  When I was a child, this was Platt National Park, the smallest national park in America.  We stopped for the Sulphur Springs, which stunk, and for the lovely creeks and waterfalls.  Today, this has all been encompassed into the larger area which includes the Lake of the Arbuckles and is a huge recreation area.  I chose to revisit the old Platt site, including the Nature Center.  The historic signature Lincoln Bridge is still there…DSC_0352The sites of the old Sulphur Springs are there, although many of them are dried up due to the ongoing drought in this area of the country.DSC_0295Even with springs and creeks dried up, we found beauty and water flowing.  There were wildflowers like the Indian Blanket and others…DSC_0271DSC_0293DSC_0279DSC_0339Birds and animals greeted us without fear in this protected area…DSC_0305 DSC_0314 DSC_0331And I ended this visit dipping my feet in a cool stream on a summer day…DSC_0366We drove home a different way, seeing small towns like Bowlegs and Wetova…DSC_0372…and a peek at Okemah, home of Woody Guthrie, before heading home after a delightfully beautiful road trip.DSC_0375