Last modified: 2017-08-21 by rick wyatt
Keywords: chickasaw | oklahoma | native american |
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image by Donald Healy, 28 December 2007
map image by Peter Orenski based on input from Don Healy
Chickasaw - Oklahoma
The Chickasaw Nation, one of the five "civilized" Nations of Oklahoma, was constituted on 4 March 1856, after its forced removal from the banks of the Mississippi (ENAT, 53-54). Its constitution was adopted 16 August 1867 and its tribal seal designed in 1907 (FBUS, 255-256). The original capital, Tishomingo, was named for the last great war chief of the Chickasaw. An image of Tishomingo dominates the tribal seal and the flag.
© Donald Healy 2008
The Chickasaw flag is indigo and bears a full-color representation of the seal of the Nation (sample flag provided by the Chickasaw Nation, Tishomingo, Oklahoma). The orange (or gold) and light purple bands encircling the seal symbolize the purity and honor of the Chickasaw people. The warrior, besides depicting the beloved Tishomingo, stands for all Chickasaw (The Great Seal of the Chickasaw Nation, undated, unsigned letter from The Chickasaw Nation Headquarters).
Chief Tishomingo carries two arrows, which stand for the two historical divisions of the Chickasaw, the forest dwellers and the town dwellers. The chief wears four head feathers, representing the four prime directions of the compass. The bow, traditionally made of hickory, symbolizes the hunting prowess of the Chickasaw warrior and his willingness to defend his people. The quiver, made of deerskin and decorated with white fur, reinforces the same ideals. Stretching across Chief Tishomingo's shoulder is a warrior's mantle, traditionally made of swan feathers. His deerskin shield symbolizes the protection Chickasaw warriors offer their people. The deerskin kneestraps represent the fleetness of the Chickasaw warrior (NAVA News, Mar./Apr. 1989, 6).
The river in the background recalls the Mississippi, a Chickasaw word meaning "without source". The foliage represents the flora found along the Mississippi, the ancient homeland of the Chickasaw.
Although the Chickasaw have lived in Oklahoma for almost 150 years, their hearts still lie along the banks of the Mississippi. Their tribal seal and therefore their flag recall their days in the east, a time when their heritage blossomed, their history, pride, and glory achieved its zenith, a time that they will not forget. (The Confederate States of America apparently created flags for each of its allies in the five Civilized Nations; unfortunately the design presented to the Chickasaw Nation is not known.)
© Donald Healy 2008
information provided by Peter Orenski, 28 December 2007
The Bicentennial Committee of Ardmore, Oklahoma, determined as one of the city's projects for the two hundredth anniversary of the founding of the United States to seek seven sets of the 14 flags that have flown over Oklahoma in the history of this continent. Although it was an easy and inexpensive matter to obtain 12 of those flags, the making of the Chickasaw and Choctaw flags proved to be too expensive.
In the spring of 1975, the committee asked the members of the Ardmore Indian Arts and Crafts organization to make the two tribal flags by hand. The first flag was completed in May of that year. Those who worked on making the flags were:
Mrs. Clifford Roland (Tommie), a Choctaw
Ms. Ruby McMillian, a Chickasaw-Choctaw
Ms. Debbie Farve, a Chickasaw-Choctaw
Ms. Era Carney, a Chickasaw
Mr. Cecil Carney, a Chickasaw
Ms. Norma Griffin, a Choctaw
Ms. Ramona Pope, a Chickasaw
Ms. Janet Wallace, a Chickasaw
These people designed seven Chickasaw and seven Choctaw flags for use by the City of Ardmore. The flags were officially raised on the streets of Ardmore on July 4, 1975. After that date, the flags were flown on holidays and on other special events. Now they are flown every day.
The flags were made from new sheets, hemmed for extra strength. Metal rings were sewn into the flags for the flag rope and the great seals of the tribes were affixed with liquid embroidery paint. The first seal proved too small, and Mr. Les Wildman, a member of the bicentennial committee, enlarged the seal. The completed flag measured three feet by five feet, the standard flag size.
After the Ardmore flags were completed, eight flags were commissioned by Governor Overton James for the use of the Chickasaw Nation. It was at this time that blue was used as the background color in the Chickasaw Nation flag.