Treasure the Beauty of Nature during National Park Week

ravertine Creek runs through the Chickasaw National Recreation Area and gets its main water supply from two other popular area attractions: Antelope and Buffalo Springs. The cool water which emerges from them contains dissolved limestone from underground deposits. These springs have been cherished by people seeking to relax and renew their spirit for centuries and now offer the public a refreshing way to celebrate National Park Week.

Published April 22, 2018

SULPHUR, OKLAHOMA – In recognition of National Park Week, the Chickasaw Cultural Center, 867 Cooper Memorial Road, and the Chickasaw National Recreation Area (CNRA), 901 W. First St., have partnered together to celebrate the natural springs, wildlife and lush foliage awaiting visitors at the CNRA.

The Inkana Run, a partnership run between the CNRA and the Chickasaw Nation, will be held Saturday, April 21, serving as the kick-off event for National Park Week.

The 5K/1-mile fun run/walk will start at 8 a.m. On-site registration begins at 6:30 a.m. at the Chickasaw Cultural Center. The $25 entry fee person will benefit the Chickasaw Foundation for the Division of Social Services General Education Scholarship.

The unsanctioned course will start at Veterans Lake and end on the Chickasaw Cultural Center campus.

Participants should park at the Chickasaw Cultural Center by 7:30 a.m. and ride the provided shuttle to Veterans Lake.

Demonstrations, presentations and films are planned throughout the week of Saturday, April 21, to Sunday, April 29.

Chickasaw Nation Governor Bill Anoatubby and Bill Wright, superintendent of the Chickasaw National Recreation Area, visit the Inkana Bridge in Sulphur.

Episodes of “National Parks: America’s Best Idea” will be screened April 22 – April 29 at 2:30 p.m. in the Anoli’ Theater.

Explore the Inkana Bridge connecting the Chickasaw Cultural Center and the CNRA with access points located near Veteran’s Lake and the Traditional Village. Activities during the week will include a wildflower walk, monarch butterfly presentation and a bow-making demonstration.

National Park Week activities are open to the public at no charge.

A Rich History

For nearly 7,000 years the springs and springs that now form the CNRA have been cherished by Native people seeking to relax and renew their spirit.

The terrain at the CNRA is part of an ecotone in which the eastern deciduous forest meets the mixed-grass prairie. Because of this, a rich diversity of wildlife lives among the densely wooded areas, rugged slopes and rolling prairie lands.

Bison, white-tailed deer, bobcats and other wildlife may be observed, photographed and enjoyed by tourists who visit the park.

The property once belonged to the Chickasaw and Choctaw nations following removal to Indian Territory in the 1830s.

Recognizing that Oklahoma statehood was looming, tribal leaders turned over ownership of the land to the federal government in 1902 with the understanding it would be protected for future generations. It was called Sulphur Springs Reservation.

In 1906, Congress designated it as Platt National Park to honor a Connecticut lawmaker, Orville Platt, who sponsored legislation to protect the area. At the time, it was the nation’s seventh national park. It is the only national park to be established at the request of a Native American tribe.

In 1976, Congress renamed it the Chickasaw National Recreation Area.

A Ranger’s Journey

Chickasaw citizen Bill Wright, a longtime veteran of the National Park Service, brought his skills back to Oklahoma in 2015 as the superintendent of the CNRA.

In the past 30 years he has served as chief ranger in a vast array of national parks, from the Everglades to Independence Hall, the Smokey Mountains to Big Bend.

“This place [CNRA] is all about the water,” Wright said. “It was about the water in 1902 and it’s about the water today. People came from all across the country to bathe in these waters, to drink the water.”

As a child, he swam in the cold streams of Travertine Creek and drank Sulphur water while visiting his grandparents.

“My earliest memories in my life were of the CNRA,” Wright reflected. “My grandfather was a park ranger for the recreation area. He was really the biggest influence on me becoming a park ranger.

“To come home, to be where my roots are, to come full circle in a career and then be back where my heritage comes from—it’s hard to put that all in words. But, it’s a phenomenal time for me to be back here.”

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