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Exploring the Wild West Native American Heritage Sites, Oklahoma

Some might think living in Oklahoma is difficult when you’re looking to get out of the house and experience something new. That’s not to say there’s anything wrong with Oklahoma, but as any Okie can tell you, we’re certainly not the hub of new and exciting. Living in the middle of the country certainly has its benefits, such as cheaper housing and a job market that isn’t as competitive as the coasts, but the one glaring deficit is the complete lack of new things to do.

Native American
A depiction of the Calusa Indians at the South Florida Museum

Now, that said, I certainly love Oklahoma and with some creativity, there’s some pretty cool things to see and do without ever leaving the state. One of our favorite things to do is visit the Native American heritage sites that are plentiful right here in our own back yard. If you’re so inclined, I’ll give you an overview of what to see and do if you share my affinity for Native American culture. These are just a few of my favorite spots in Oklahoma to marvel at Native American history.


Kullihoma Grounds


If you’re looking for outdoor things to do in Oklahoma, you certainly can’t beat the Kullihoma Grounds. Just ten miles outside of Ada, Oklahoma in the heart of Chickasaw country is a tribal reserve that is undoubtedly one of the coolest heritage sights in Oklahoma. This was once used as a stomp ground (locations for dancing and festivals), school and community site by the Chickasaw people that are indigenous to this area. Currently, the grounds amass over 1,500 acres and feature numerous traditional dwellings such as the winter house, summer house, mountain house, huts and corn crib. The grounds are a fascinating landmark that are definitely worth seeing if you’re in the area.


Chickasaw Cultural Center


The Chickasaw Cultural Center is the largest tribal cultural center in all of the United States. It’s located on over 100 acres of rolling hills featuring some beautiful woodlands and streams that criss cross throughout. In addition, this modern center also boasts an exhibit center, large format theater, research center, sky pavilion, garden village, amphitheater for one of the numerous demonstrations offered weekly, and a cafe should you feel the need for a snack or a beverage.


Inside are some of the coolest cultural exhibits and many pieces of traditional Native American artifacts and artwork. The Chickasaw Cultural Center was also awarded a 2014 Certificate of Excellence award from Trip Advisor (the travel website), for outstanding hospitality. The center features a balance of free things to see and do as well as a few premium treats such as traveling exhibits and the state of the art theater.


Fort Washita


Fort Washington was originally erected in 1842 in order to protect both the Chickasaw and Choctaw Tribes from the plains indians. The fort operated into the 1860’s before being abandoned and then occupied by Confederate troops during the Civil War. The Oklahoma Historical Society then acquired Fort Washita in 1962 and restored it to its original glory in order to preserve as a historic site and museum that still operates to this day.


The fort is only open Saturday and Sunday and they close at 4pm, so get there early if you’d like to take a trip into days past and experience some of the amazing renovation, or one of the Civil War reenactments. While Oklahoma might not be home to a lot of the glitz and glamour featured in other vacation destinations, that’s not to say that there isn’t plenty to see and do while you’re here. In fact, if you are a history lover, or a Native American enthusiast, then this is just the place that you’ll want to be.

Christa Thompson

Christa Thompson is the Founder and Chief Editor of The Fairytale Traveler. She started traveling the world in 2003 when she attended a summer abroad study at the University of Cambridge in England. Since then, her wanderlust has been fierce. Her three passions in life are her son, traveling, and being creative. The Fairytale Traveler brand gives Christa the opportunity to do all of these things and to live intentionally every day. "It's never too late to believe in what you love and to pursue your dreams." -Christa Thompson

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