Vol. LIII No. 12
December 2018

Chickasaw cultural tourism invites discovery, propels growth


Our Chickasaw culture is unique and special. Ours is a culture whose foundations are family, respect, persistence and tradition.

As our fellow Americans and others begin to discover the Chickasaw Nation, it is appropriate for us to share our culture with them and build up new relationships.

One proactive way to share is through Chickasaw cultural tourism. This element of our long-range plan opens up our cultural traditions to others who seek to learn more about Chickasaws and our unique history.

Ever since I first began working for you at our tribe, I heard frequent talk about sharing our culture with others, inviting them to explore the Chickasaw Nation and our history. The talk, even back in the 1970s, centered on a Chickasaw Cultural Center. This would be a place to feature our culture, our traditions and our craftsmanship with the world.

In 2010, we dedicated our unique and beautiful Chickasaw Cultural Center in Sulphur. It is a place for Chickasaws to be immersed in our history, traditions and art. It has also proved a great draw for tourists! Nearly one million visitors have explored the Cultural Center since its opening. Our guests enjoy all types of events, demonstrations and exhibits on our beautiful campus.

We have marketed our Cultural Center, along with the many other Chickasaw Nation attractions, in larger regional markets. The marketing has worked, and we are consistently drawing more visitors to our area each year. The big bonuses of our cultural tourism are jobs for Chickasaws and others, and new dollars flowing into our area.

The new dollars introduced by visitors have tremendous economic impacts. A way to think of it is those dollars are not “made” in our area, but are “shipped in” from outside. Economic theory indicates those new dollars brought in from outside multiply several times over in the form of expanded local economic activity.

What it boils down to is that the Chickasaw Nation, and the entire region, becomes much more robust economically. That quality encourages new investment from both inside and outside the area, and those new investments attract more participation. It becomes a real “win-win” environment!

And as we invest in our tourism infrastructure, entities from outside our tribe join in the process to offer opportunities to the guests who visit us here.

Our Cultural Center, Welcome Center, Visitors’ Center, Artesian Hotel and so many more facilities entice more and more visitors each year. And we are supporting additional tourism efforts that aren’t about bricks-and-mortar attractions. Our annual Arts Festival in Sulphur is a high-quality Indian art show and festival that now draws thousands and grows each year. We support the Visual Voices exhibition that promotes our Chickasaw artists and introduces patrons to the fabulous world of Chickasaw art. And there is so much more to come!

People throughout the country and across the globe have a real interest in Indian culture. At the Chickasaw Nation, we are developing the variety and quality of offerings that appeal to that target market.

Our forebears, as they built their lives in the new Chickasaw Nation, could not have imagined the turn of events to come. We honor them by sharing our story, and by building a strong and vital economic foundation for the future.