The Austin Chronicle

https://www.austinchronicle.com/columns/2021-08-27/day-trips-choctaw-cultural-center-durant-okla/

Day Trips: Choctaw Cultural Center, Durant, Okla.

Tribe's rich history comes to life at modern community center

By Gerald E. McLeod, August 27, 2021, Columns

The Choctaw Cultural Center outside of Durant, Okla., tells the story of a proud Indigenous people that has survived thousands of years, sometimes against tremendous odds.

Officially opened on July 23, 2021, by the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma, the Cultural Center is part community center for tribal members and part embassy to the world.

Across the highway from the Nation's massive casino complex about 30 minutes north of the Red River, the tribe uses a portion of the 100,000-square-foot complex as classrooms, offices, and meeting facilities.

The rest of the building is made up of a permanent exhibition hall that is like walking into the pages of an American history book. Within the maze of rooms, the journey of the Choctaw (Chahta) people from its earliest history to present time comes alive through interactive and immersive exhibits.

One of the Five Civilized Tribes of the American Southeast, the Choctaw trace their origin point to central Mississippi. By the time Europeans arrived, the tribe had spread into what is now neighboring Alabama.

By the 18th century, the tribe had adopted many Anglo ways while maintaining their distinctive culture. Despite having never fought against the Americans, the Choctaw were the first Native Americans to be removed from their fertile homeland to Indian Territory in 1830.

In the southeastern corner of Oklahoma, the Nation has thrived by taking advantage of agricultural, industrial, and gaming resources. There are now more than 200,000 tribal members scattered around the country, including Texas.

The Choctaw Cultural Center is at 1919 Hina Hanta Way in Calera, Okla., on the southern outskirts of Durant. The center is closed on Monday and Tuesday. For more information, go to choctawculturalcenter.com.


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