Harrell's Happenings travel blog


A flying dinosaur



The large dinosaur - the star of the show; found in the...

Rose Rock - the state rock of Oklahoma

The sweat lodge

A story map

Snowshoes made from rawhide

The kids got to try on Native American clothes made from buckskin

A teepee - a mobile home - made from brain-tanned buckskin to...


Entrance to the Chickasaw Cultural Center

Stop Sign at the Chickasaw Cultural Center - written in English and...

The Honorable Chickasaw Hunter/Warrior

A mosaic illustrating the elements of the earth -the heavens to the...

The forested room where the talking animals and plants told legends and...


An illustration of the division of the Chickasaw and Choctaw peoples


The Cultural Center



Native dress for sale in the gift shop

A canoe hand-made from pine

Woke up to a rainy morning; soon after I got up I got a call from Mrs. Smith and the camp staff had decided that I did not need to try to walk down to the fishing area in the slippery rain. They assigned me to going to the Children's Museum with half of the campers and chaperones. This year we have so many chaperones that we never have to worry about something going undone and someone being unsupervised. The children love the museum. They have a spectacular dinosaur/fossil display room. Additionally, they have a room to teach the children about the plant and animal life of the area. They have been hiking around the area so much that they recognize several of the plants.

My favorite part of the Children’s Museum at Camp Goddard is the Native American exhibit. Wayne Edgar has been so careful to make sure that everything in it is authentic and does not further myths about Native Americans but rather furthers the children’s knowledge of the culture. I could listen to him talk all day about his experiences and share his vast knowledge. The children were allowed to go in and explore – so hands on. They were able to feel pelts of several creatures, try on various samples of Indian garb (such soft buckskin), climb into a real sweat lodge, see the differences between a teepee (a mobile Indian home) vs. a wigwam (a permanent structure). Wayne explained why different groups of Indians would need the teepee vs. the wigwam, why Indian men would take on as many as four wives (to get all of the work done – if he didn’t take on more than one wife, the one might leave him because there was too much to do), and what the different gender roles were like. He ended his talk with information about the Indian drum and how different tribes would have various background sounds (steady light beat, steady heavy beat, or a heart-beat type sound – varying from sad to fast-paced). Then, to bid everyone goodbye, he played and sand a beautiful Indian song. I wish I have taped it, but I was so awestruck that I didn’t even think of it. The morning group was to explore the Museum from 9:00 – 11:00 and have an hour to ready their things to do home. We left the museum about 12:10, late for lunch, and thrilled with all that we got to see and do.

Today is one of my favorite lunches at Camp Goddard – fried catfish. We got there so late there was no seconds for me, which is best. I would have eaten far too much if allowed. Then, I went back to the teachers’ cabin for rest time to have some extra time with them. Afterwards, I left in the rain to go to the Chickasaw Cultural Center. I arrived about 2:30. I did not know where to go, so I first went into a gift shop and asked (they had exquisite jewelry hand-made by the natives of the area). I went over to the Exhibit Hall, passing by their beautiful statue of an Indian warrior. Their facility is beautiful. Wayne told me that it cost $80 million. I bought my ticket and found out about a cultural class that was to begin at 3:00 in the Theater/Café area. I went across just in time for Michael, the teacher, to meet me for the class. I was fortunate that I was the only one and had the teacher all to myself. The class for today was to make a miniature bow and arrow. Michael brought all of the materials. I was careful to find out all of the required materials so I could share this activity with the camp staff in case they ever need an activity to take up about a half hour to 45 minutes. The bows were made from “reed” used to weave baskets. In actuality, the Chickasaw would have preferred to use Bois D’Arc (the hardest wood in North America) and would have used a section of wood that came from the same growth ring. Michael had notched each end of the reed (which would be necessary for children to prevent them from using a knife) to create the “nock”. This activity would be a viable one for camp since the vocabulary of archery was used in the creation of the miniature version. Then, he showed me how to use waxed twine (which would actually be sinew or long strips of hid from the back of the deer). Then, the arrow was made from the pointed end of a bamboo skewer. The round end was cut for a bit lengthwise. This allowed for the feather “fletch” to be inserted. I chose a red feather and cut a small piece to insert. Then, the end was tied off to keep the feather intact. The Chickasaw preferred using turkey wing feathers. Wild turkey are in the area; Tammy and her student that she brought up saw a flock (or whatever you call a group of turkeys) of about 20-25 on her way into Camp. I decorated my bow, documenting Chickasaw 2011 (I didn’t have room on the small bow to write any more). Then, I glued the arrow on and put a hanging string. This will make a great Christmas tree decoration and souvenir of my trip. Then, I went back across to the Exhibit Hall, arriving just in time for the orientation movie. The movie was held in a room designed to look like a Council Room, a large room built by the tribes to not only house their decision-making body, but to house the entire tribe if there was a dangerous weather or war situation. The roof was the most intricate, showing the careful lashing to hold the rafters together. As I progressed through each part of the exhibit hall, a different docent was present to explain the contents. I learned so much about the Chickasaws. Initially, the Choctaw and Chickasaw were one tribe (Chikasay). On their travels through southern North American, legend has it that there was a disagreement on the direction they should take so the group divided into the two separate tribes. They settled in the Mississippi Alabama region. Then, they were sent to Oklahoma. The Chickasaw and Choctaw peoples did not choose to fight the “white man” because they saw it as a losing proposition and they willingly moved to Oklahoma. The trip was devastating to the Indian people; disease and hard winters caused about 1/3rd of the people to die. In Oklahoma, they each had their separate areas that were established into separate nations. The Chickasaw nation was in southwestern Oklahoma whereas the Choctaw was in the south-central area. The Chickasaw set up their own government and laws. Lightmen were their police/sheriffs/law enforcers. They set up an intricate set of schools – for both boys and girls. Their women had rights far beyond that of the US. Their women had a say in government and owned land that was kept separate from their husband’s. This was one large controversy when Oklahoma wanted to become a state prior to women receiving the right to vote. There were many interesting displays: one area was set up like a forest and several places you would walk by, a creature or a tree would begin to share a legend/myth. One myth explained why children should stay away from fire; a good story that I’m sure parents used to keep their children safe. When I finished, it was almost time for the Center to close. I went by the gift shop again, looking for postcards to sent. I found some cards featuring paintings of Chickasaw in native costume. I got one for Andrew and one for Katherine and then was ready to go. But, I couldn’t find my keys. I knew that I had worn them around my neck when I came in. But, I decided that when I took off my sweatshirt during my craft class, I probably took the keys with it and dropped them there, unaware. I went back to the craft area and asked – no keys had been turned in. As people were clocking out and leaving, I knew that I too must leave. Thankfully I have a spare hidden on the truck. But, I had the church keys on that ring and I can’t replace those. I got my hidden key and left in the rain. I was worried, but knew they had to be somewhere in the Center. I’ll come back tomorrow to either look or give them a forwarding address.

Back at Chickasaw, I fixed dinner and readied some things so I could leave tomorrow. I want to get off as soon as possible to be able to get a camping site on a Friday afternoon. I don’t know anything about Clayton Lake SP, but I do know it is small and does not have that many RV sites. But, the whole time I was thinking about tomorrow, I was worried about my lost keys.

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