Throughout the Chickasaw Cultural Center grounds, statues and sculptures bring the story of the Chickasaw people to life. Crafted by renowned artists including Joanna Underwood, James Blackburn, Enoch Kelly Haney and Mike Larsen, these impressive works of art add a beautiful third dimension to the campus grounds and help add permanence to our living culture.
Beautifully crafted and featuring Chickasaw people, the statue stands nine-feet tall and boasts exquisite expression and detail. This bronze sculpture, by renowned Chickasaw artist Mike Larsen, commemorates the Chickasaws' arrival to a new territory after Removal from our original Homeland. Inspired by this painful period in the history of our people, the true message of "The Arrival" is hope and resilience.
Interpreting an 18th-century Tashka Chikasha (Chickasaw Warrior), this statue by Enoch Kelly Haney, former Principal Chief of the Seminole Nation, contains notable features, including the roached hairstyle with pendant yaatala (feather hair ornament), bear claw innochiꞌ (necklace), tanampalhiꞌ micha nakiꞌ (bow and arrows) and sholosh (Chickasaw-style pucker toe moccasins). “The Warrior” brings us back to a time before European contact in 1540. It is said that tashka' Chikasha (translated to mean “Chickasaw warriors”) were fierce in battle, and “The Warrior” powerfully represents our people’s “unconquered and unconquerable” spirit.
Throughout the Mississippian Period, 900-1400 A.D., hunting was necessary for food and clothing. The bronze statue by James Blackburn features two hunters carrying bows with stone-tipped river cane arrows and river cane-woven quivers. A characteristic of Southeastern Indian culture, knives and sheaths are worn around the neck. Bucksin breechcloths, leggings and pucker toe moccasins are worn as traditional hunting attire. Waist belts carry pipes, as well as forage and medicine pouches. Arms, legs, necks and ears are adorned with shell ornamentation. Representing divine associations, rank and status, the hunters are wearing their hair tied with beaded forelocks, wrapped braids and feathers.
Four sculptures by Chickasaw artist Joanna Underwood represent pottery designs and shell carvings from our early ancestors. It was common to carve and fashion shells into ornaments for personal adornment worn by both men and women.
Each sculpture depicts a different symbol:
Woodpecker - A warrior motif, it symbolizes the strength, courage and determination of the Chickasaw people.
Four directions or cross - Represents the four seasons, four directions and the logs of the Sacred Fire.
Sun - Represents the Creator - the giver of light, life and spirituality.
Spider - Represents the ancient story of how the spider brought fire to mankind.