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Heap Big Wi-Fi Among Chickasaw In Sulphur, Okla.

February 17th, 2015 · Tags:Arts · Cities · Coffee Shops · Hotels · Wi-Fi

CHIKA Turner Falls crop

Remember the scenes in old westerns in which the “Indians” refused to be photographed because they believed the camera might steal their souls?  Well, me and my Nikon don’t subscribe to that theory … and yet …

Bad medicine happens. Gravity finally claimed my D7000 the other day after having carried the thing all over the world. And the last photo I shot?  A quick little portrait of my new friend Uriah from the Chickasaw Nation.  Ha … I jest that there is any connection, just coincidence. Uriah was one of the first tribesmen I saw when I first visited the awesome Chickasaw Cultural Center near Sulphur, Okla. It was a couple of weeks later that I snapped a shot … right place, wrong time.

CHIKA Uriah sized

 

Ha … “Uriah.”  What kind of a name is that for a Native American, anyway?  A very cool one, I think.    My new friend and I discussed the name, and yes, his parents were fans (like me) of an old progressive, English hard rock band, back in the day (Uriah Heep). I am trying to think of an Indian joke with Heap Big something … I digress.  But anyway, I have always liked Native American names and those stories about Native Americans being named after the first thing their mother sees, after birthing a child.  Ha … I think my favorite is Kicking Bird.  (Yes, that is my favorite “Indian name,” followed closely by Crazy Cat off the politically incorrect “F Troop” western comedy.) What a great mental picture …. Kicking Bird. From where do I know the name  Kicking Bird … hmmm? Oh yes, a character in “Dances With Wolves.”  But the real Kicking Bird was a Kiowa chief in the 1870s — a fierce warrior but also an advocate of peace, they say. Ha … there is  a movie theater in Edmond, Okla. called The Kicking Bird.  Love it.  I digress …

 

I first saw Uriah when he and other members of the tribe performed a Chickasaw stomp dance on stage one Saturday at the cultural center — my first week in town.  The stomp featured about a dozen dancers, many wearing percussion rattles made of turtle shells or old metal cans, affixed to their legs.  The dancers all joined hands, weaving in and out on stage to simulate the movements of a huge winding snake, chasing its prey … another person playing the unlucky role of a tasty wabbit.

 

Then a couple of weeks later, after the stomp dance, Uriah and I met on my second visit, when yes, he commented on my Nikon, then graciously allowed me to fire off a shot while we discussed the center as he told me of his appreciation of and connection to his tribal heritage.

 

I am not sure that Uriah caught my subtle attempt at humor when I told him it was the best stomp dance I had ever seen (because it was my first).  Oh well … corny humor.  Whattayagonna do?

 

Have you seen this cultural center near Sulphur? … Center!?! … Ha! It’s an entire complex.  Theaters, exhibit hall, fountains, sky bridge, authentic village, restaurant, art, etc., etc., only about two years old, with world-class architectural design.  So impressed — both with the multi, multi-million dollar facility and the $3 cup of buffalo chili. Delicious.

 

CHIKA Huts sized

 

It’s a “scene you should make with your little ones” – to quote The Cowsills’ “Indian Lake.”

 

You really oughtta see this place.  Did I already say that?  I particular enjoyed the exhibit displaying the history of the dugout canoe, perfected by several indigenous peoples, including the Chickasaw tribe in their wet homelands of Mississippi, Alabama, Tennessee and Kentucky, before relocation to Oklahoma via the “Trail of Tears.”

CHIKA Medallion Best sized

 

Chickasaw Culture

 

You don’t have to be in town long before it is apparent the tribe has spared no expense throughout the community.  Many years ago, Sulphur’s claim to fame was the healing properties of the waters here and accordingly, the Artesian Hotel attracted and housed visitors from afar.  It burned.  Now the Chickasaw have resurrected the hotel and added a nice casino … if you’re into that kind of thing.

 

CHIKA Exhibit sized

Just around the corner from the casino are multiple retail shops, including Bedré.

 

 

The Artesian

 

 

Bedré is both a cafe and the only Native American-owned line of gourmet chocolates.  And yes, Kelly, Bedré offers the best Wi-Fi hotspot in town … although to our chagrin, we have seen very few people in the cafe … I suppose everyone else is busy at the casino, putting their coin into Chickasaw coffers.  Kudos to the tribe for investing coin back into the community.

 

The second best hotspot for Wi-Fi is probably the McDonalds at the other end of town. I have used that network several times, while sipping a custom-made vanilla, chocolate and strawberry shake, thanks to another new friend. Just up the road from McDonald is  my hotel – the first Super 8 I have tried … I think. The hotel is certainly no frills, but has decent Wi-Fi.  I was a little hesitant to stay there, but the place has been recently refurbished, so not bad at all.  Two of the most popular restaurants in town are just across the parking lot — a Chinese buffet and a Mexican restaurant – New China and Abuelitas, respectively.

 

Bedré

 

 

Across the street from the Artesian is another multi-million dollar facility, the visitor center with high-tech kiosks, gifts, and a very friendly and informative staff. All around the casino, chocolate bar and visitor center there is a Wi-Fi network compliments of the tribe.Very impressive … and just a couple of hours away from Dallas/Fort Worth.

 

Know what I sayin?

CHIKA Chief sized