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Faith, Family And Culture Featured In New Choctaw Nation Cultural Center

A relief on the wall of the new Choctaw Nation Cultural Center
A relief on the wall of the new Choctaw Nation Cultural Center.

The Choctaw Nation will open a new cultural center in Durant on Friday. It will feature interactive exhibits telling the 14,000-year history of the Choctaw people.

Senior Director Stacey Halfmoon says the new center is designed to be a living and breathing space that tells the story of the Choctaw people, from spiritual mounds to modern day treaties between the tribal nation and the federal government.

"You see beautiful clothing adornment items and pieces that are in the exhibit that were all made by Choctaw artists and community members today," said Halfmoon.

The building sits on 22 acres of land and features two exhibit halls, an auditorium, a children's area, classrooms and a café and gift shop.

The quarter-mile drive to get to the cultural center is on scenic prairie land, says Halfmoon. The lobby replicates a Choctaw home with a thatched roof, central fireplace and stone quarried from Stigler, Oklahoma.

"Right when you walk in, you get this nice sense of community and family," said Halfmoon.

Visitors can also explore an exhibit called the Living Village outside, which has a Choctaw mound, a stickball demonstration field, heirloom Choctaw crops, and a dance circle.

The Permanent Exhibit Hall has a four-part story focusing on the history of the Choctaw people from ancestral times — circa 1250 — to current day in Oklahoma. Exhibit designers used “live casts” of living Choctaw tribal members created based on 3-D scans of their faces and bodies. Some of the life-like figures scattered throughout show how the tribe lived “before contact” while others display how they live in contemporary times.

The Choctaw Cultural Center is located at 1919 Hina Hanta Way, Calera, OK 74730. The entrance to the center is off Choctaw Road, west of the intersection of Choctaw Road and Highway 69/75 in Durant.

For hours and admission information, go to choctawculturalcenter.com.

Allison Herrera covered Indigenous Affairs for KOSU from April 2020 to November 2023.
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