We cannot verify your location
Browse Book and Journal Content on Project MUSE

Building a Nation

Chickasaw Museums and the Construction of History and Heritage

Joshua M. Gorman

Publication Year: 2011

The Chickasaw Nation, an American Indian nation headquartered in southeastern Oklahoma, entered into a period of substantial growth in the late 1980s. Following its successful reorganization and expansion, which was enabled by federal policies for tribal self-determination, the Nation pursued gaming and other industries to affect economic growth. From 1987 to 2009 the Nation’s budget increased exponentially as tribal investments produced increasingly large revenues for a growing Chickasaw population. Coincident to this growth, the Chickasaw Nation began acquiring and creating museums and heritage properties to interpret their own history, heritage, and culture through diverse exhibitionary representations. By 2009, the Chickasaw Nation directed representation of itself at five museum and heritage properties throughout its historic boundaries.

Josh Gorman examines the history of these sites and argues that the Chickasaw Nation is using museums and heritage sites as places to define itself as a coherent and legitimate contemporary Indian nation. In doing so, they are necessarily engaging with the shifting historiographical paradigms as well as changing articulations of how museums function and what they represent. The roles of the Chickasaw Nation’s museums and heritage sites in defining and creating discursive representations of sovereignty are examined within their historicized local contexts. The work describes the museum exhibitions’ dialogue with the historiography of the Chickasaw Nation, the literature of new museum studies, and the indigenous exhibitionary grammars emerging from indigenous museums throughout the United States and the world. 

Published by: The University of Alabama Press


pdf iconDownload PDF

Title Page, Copyright Page

pdf iconDownload PDF


pdf iconDownload PDF
pp. vii-viii


pdf iconDownload PDF
pp. ix-xii

read more


pdf iconDownload PDF
pp. 1-20

Edward Curtis, in his 1930 The North American Indian, had only a brief paragraph on the Chicka saws, and even then, they were jointly considered with the Choctaws. Such was their complete amalgamation with European and Ameri can settlers that he described them as “a striking forecast of the ultimate solution to what is now regarded as the Indian problem.”1 The presumed...

read more

1. Museums and American Indians in Context

pdf iconDownload PDF
pp. 21-42

A discussion of the Chickasaw Nation’s museums and heritage sites must begin with an examination of the historic intersection between American Indians and the museums that defined and displayed them. This chapter explores that intersection through a discussion of the display of native peoples in Ameri can museums since the nineteenth century, a discussion of the new...

read more

2. The Chickasaw Council House Museum

pdf iconDownload PDF
pp. 43-65

For many years the Chickasaw Council House served as the central site for remembering Chickasaw heritage. Located in the south eastern portion of the historic Chickasaw Nation, the Council House was the principal heritage site for recalling and exhibiting Chickasaw identity from the 1960s...

read more

3. The Chickasaw National Capitol and White House

pdf iconDownload PDF
pp. 66-102

If the interpretation and display of the Chicka saw Council House described in the previous chapter represents an attempt to link contemporary Chickasaw sovereignty to traditional governance resurrected in the nineteenth-century Oklahoma incarnation of the Council House, the interpretation of the Chicka saw National Capitol and White House seeks to describe the...

read more

4. The Chickasaw Cultural Center

pdf iconDownload PDF
pp. 103-140

The interpretations of the Chickasaw Council House Museum, the Chickasaw National Capitol Museum, and the Chickasaw White House are generally tied to specific periods of Chickasaw history. The consequent links to the historiography as well as the relationship between the current Chickasaw Nation and that history are therefore fairly direct. The Chickasaw Cultural...

read more

5. Hayochi and the National Museum of the American Indian

pdf iconDownload PDF
pp. 141-159

Shortly after the opening of the National Museum of the American Indian (NMAI) in 2004, the Chickasaw Nation began planning a fifth heritage site, the Hayochi (Discover) Center. Originally planned as a replacement for the aging Chickasaw Council House Museum, the space became a location for realizing the indigenous exhibitionary grammar emphasized at the NMAI...

read more


pdf iconDownload PDF
pp. 160-166

Despite my best intentions and the warm reception of Devon Mihesuah’s warning, I fear this work has largely been an attempt to define Chickasaws using standards that are not their own. Indigenous scholars, activists, and curators have consistently denied the relevance of the historiography to describing Native American communities. This book demonstrates the use of...


pdf iconDownload PDF
pp. 167-194


pdf iconDownload PDF
pp. 195-204


pdf iconDownload PDF
pp. 205-208

Back Cover

pdf iconDownload PDF

E-ISBN-13: 9780817385620
Print-ISBN-13: 9780817317409

Publication Year: 2011

Edition: 1

OCLC Number: 772845313
MUSE Marc Record: Download for Building a Nation

Research Areas


UPCC logo

Subject Headings

  • Chickasaw Indians -- Social conditions.
  • Chickasaw Nation, Oklahoma -- Politics and government.
  • Self-determination, National -- Chickasaw Nation, Oklahoma.
  • Chickasaw Indians -- Politics and government.
  • Gambling on Indian reservations -- Chickasaw Nation, Oklahoma.
  • Indian museums -- Chickasaw Nation, Oklahoma.
  • Chickasaw Indians -- Economic conditions.
  • Chickasaw Nation, Oklahoma -- Economic conditions.
  • You have access to this content
  • Free sample
  • Open Access
  • Restricted Access