The Mississippi River provided an essential resource for the tribe's people: river cane. This Chickasaw necessity was used for everything from basketry to tool making – disciplines that are still passed down at the Chickasaw Cultural Center.
Michael Cornelius, Chickasaw flute player and Cultural Activities Manager for the Chickasaw Nation Department of Culture & Humanities, reflects on the origins of the flute and its significance to his tribal culture. When they lived in the homelands east of the Mississippi, Chickasaws used river cane to make flutes and baskets. Both items are still created in the traditional and used to this day, perpetuating the Chickasaw artistic history.