By Carlie Kollath Wells/NEMS Daily Journal
TUPELO – More than 100 people on Wednesday visited the Natchez Trace Parkway headquarters to offer their opinions about the proposed Chickasaw heritage center and museum.
The come-and-go event was geared to explain the proposed project to the public and getting feedback.
The project is in the preliminary stages, according to Dale Wilkerson, acting superintendent of the Natchez Trace Parkway.
“The only thing we’ve decided is it’s going to be at Chickasaw Village,” he said, referencing a Tupelo site on the parkway.
Attendees at the meeting were city officials, tourism leaders, history buffs, Native American culture enthusiasts and Natchez Trace staff members and fans.
Brady Davis represented the Chickasaw Nation at the meeting. He is the historic site manager for the Chickasaw preserve in Lee County. The preserve was created in 2005 and is not open to the public.
Its mission is to help Chickasaw Nation residents reconnect with their homeland and get an idea where their ancestors came from, he said.
“Twice a year Chickasaw elders and senior citizens come to visit,” he said.
He was supportive of the project, saying it would be another tool to help Chickasaw Nation members learn about their heritage.
Attendees at Wednesday’s meeting discussed what they wanted to see at the heritage center.
Many insisted it should include modern-day updates about the Chickasaw Nation. Others reiterated their desire to see re-creations of the Chickasaw dwellings from the period.
And others said they would like to see how the Chickasaws used plants and wildlife. This stage – the environmental assessment and initial planning period – is funded by $1.1 million. The project’s construction is not funded.
The next meeting will be held Tuesday in Ada, Okla.