River Culture

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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.

River Cane

Michael Cornelius

Before moving to the Oklahoma Territory, the Chickasaws of the southeastern United States were river people – they founded their cities near rivers and canebrakes. From blow guns and bows to flutes and baskets, river cane became necessary for the Chickasaw way of life. Now, only a handful of people know how to craft with river cane, but they're passing those skills on through classes and demonstrations at the Chickasaw Cultural Center in Sulphur.

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Chickasaw River Culture

Michael Cornelius
Chickasaw flute player Michael Cornelius reflects on the origins of the flute and its significance to his tribal culture.

How Flutes are Made

Michael Cornelius
Michael Cornelius describes how flutes are made.

The Chickasaw Cultural Center: Traditional Village

Michael Cornelius, Cultural Activities Manager, Chickasaw Cultural Center
The Chikasha Inchokka Traditional Village is a unique recreation of a customary Chickasaw village made from native woods and river cane.

Passing on Crafts to Family Members

Michael and Tim Cornelius
Michael Cornelius is a flute maker who specializes in crafting traditional Chickasaw flutes he constructs from river cane.