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Oklahoma’s Native Heritage

Native American heritage is an integral part of Oklahoma, and groups traveling through the state have a variety of ways to explore it.

One of the best ways for groups to experience Cherokee history and culture is through one of the tribe’s guided tours, which trace landmarks from before and after forced relocation. The popular History Tour takes guests to the Cherokee Heritage Center in Park Hill, where they can step back in time as they wander through re-created ancient villages that illustrate Cherokee culture before European contact. The Cherokee Heritage Center contains the most extensive collection of Cherokee resources and artifacts in the state and continuously revitalizes its exhibits so return visitors will always find something new to appreciate.

The next major stop is the National Capitol Building, the Cherokee National Supreme Court Museum and the Cherokee National Prison Museum in the Cherokee Nation capital of Tahlequah. This year, the tribe began renovating the National Capitol Building, with plans to convert the structure into a full-scale museum by spring of 2019.

For another perspective on Native American culture, groups can visit Chickasaw Country in south-central Oklahoma. Thought to be the epicenter of Chickasaw heritage, the Chickasaw Cultural Center in Sulphur features diverse programming such as history exhibits, fine-arts galleries, a re-created traditional village and gift shops with handcrafted goods. Every week, visitors can see dance performances, meet with artisans working on their crafts and sample traditional Native American meals.

Within a short distance of the heritage center, the Chickasaw National Recreation Area is a true Oklahoman oasis, with shaded springs, streams and lakes that never rise above 65 degrees in the summer, offering hikers a refreshing respite. No trip to Sulphur would be complete without a visit to Bedré Fine Chocolate, a local chocolate factory that manufactures premium-grade treats with Oklahoma flair. Guided tours are not available, but guests can view the production process through floor-to-ceiling windows.

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