The Chickasaw Cultural Center, located in Sulphur, Oklahoma, about half way between Oklahoma City and Dallas, Texas, offers an in-depth look at the past, present and future of the Chickasaw Native American tribe. The multi-building campus tells the story of the Chickasaw nation in the words of real Chickasaw citizens.

The Chickasaw nation once extended from Texas to Mississippi and north through Arkansas. Today the tribe, the 13th largest Native American nation recognized by the U.S. government, is found primarily in central Oklahoma. The 109-acre Chickasaw Cultural Center campus celebrates the art, history, music, food, dance and stories of this ancient, yet modern people. It’s a fun and fascinating stop for kids of all ages.

Reasons Your Kids Will Love the Chickasaw Cultural Center

There are a host of reasons to take your kids to the Chickasaw Cultural Center. The campus has a lot of open spaces and makes a good place to stretch your legs during a road trip. What’s more: the center tells the Native American story in a manner not always found in school history books. However, the most important reasons to visit the Center is that it’s fun for kids and educational. Here are just a few of the reasons why:

1. You can walk through the Spirit Forest. One of the most popular exhibits with kids (and adults) at the center is the 2,500-square-foot Spirit Forest. This indoor forest features sound and light effects as well as recorded stories (told by Chickasaw citizens) that are activated by sensors as you walk through the exhibit. There’s even a glowing pond with pictures at the bottom that illustrate the stories.

2. You can walk in traditional Native American homes and buildings. The sprawling Cultural Center campus includes an authentic Chickasaw Inchokka summer village with two summer houses, two winter houses, a corn crib and the council house. It’s a great way to see how this tribe really lived.

3. You can learn some words in the Chickasaw language. All of the signs at the Cultural Center are written in both English and Chickasaw. The guides will also help kids take home a few words to impress their friends.

4. You can eat real Chickasaw food. The Aaimpa’ Cafe offers traditional Chickasaw food as well as standard fare like sandwiches, soups and salads. Traditional Chickasaw food includes such things as grape dumplings, Indian fry bread and buffalo.

5. You can meet members of the Chickasaw tribe. Chickasaw citizens are available throughout the Cultural Center campus, both working and visiting. There are changing cultural displays where Chickasaw citizens demonstrate traditional belt-making, basket-weaving and playing the drums Chickasaw-style. Visitors have a chance to talk with the Chickasaws about their crafts and their people. Older kids can take a class in woodworking, pottery, weaving and other crafts.

Visiting Chickasaw Cultural Center

Chickasaw Cultural Center is open Monday through Saturday from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., and on Sunday from noon to 5:00 p.m. There is no charge to enter the campus. Admission (2013 prices) to the museum is $6 for adults; $5 for seniors, students and military; $3 for those age 12 and younger; and free for children under 3. Chickasaw citizens are admitted free. There is an additional charge for feature films.

Chickasaw Cultural Center; 867 Charles Cooper Memorial Road, Sulphur, OK 73086; 580 622-7130