Published September 23, 2017
ADA, OKLAHOMA – The Chickasaw Nation will host a community stomp dance Sept. 29 at Kullihoma to kick off the 57th Chickasaw Annual Meeting and 29th Festival. The celebration begins at 7 p.m.
Festivities will continue throughout the week at various locations throughout the Chickasaw Nation culminating with Gov. Bill Anoatubby’s annual State of the Nation address. It will be held 9 a.m. Saturday, Oct. 7, at Fletcher Auditorium on the Murray State College campus.
Visitors may also enjoy a “social” stickball game at Kullihoma Sept. 29. Stickball has been played by Native Americans for centuries and is the forerunner of lacrosse.
Stomp dances are open to the public and include traditional song and dance, food and fellowship amid the natural and historic beauty of Kullihoma.
Stomp dancing has deep roots in the Chickasaw culture.
LaDonna Brown, director of research and cultural interpretation for the Chickasaw Nation, explained dances were often connected with spiritual, ritual, ceremonial or social events, such as a spring harvest celebration or fall festival.
There are still different dances for various occasions. The Chickasaws remember dances for their spiritual nature, yet they have become predominantly social in modern times. No matter the type of dancing, it is always an opportunity to come together as a community and guest participation is welcome and encouraged.
Men sing stomp dance songs in a call-and-answer format, following a male song leader, who often sets the dance rhythm using a handheld turtle shell shaker.
Women enhance the rhythms with shakers worn on their legs. These shakers are often made of turtle shells or deer hooves. As traditional box turtles are endangered, women fill milk cans with river stone to mimic the rhythms produced by authentic turtle shell shakers.
Social dances often have animal-themed names, like the snake dance and the raccoon dance. Each social dance has a fun and unique technique.
On Saturday, Sept. 30, visitors are welcome to watch an age-old competition involving shooting a stack of cornstalks with specialized arrows. Both youth and adult cornstalk shoots are planned. Registration begins at 8 a.m.
Youth archers will begin the celebration at 8:30 a.m. followed by adult competition at 10 a.m.
Kullihoma is located 7 miles northeast of Ada of state Highway 1. Watch for the Kullihoma exit signs located on the south side of the highway.
Contact the Chickasaw Nation Cultural Resources Department at 580-622-7140 for more information.
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