Skating into history

Drew Butler
Bob Palmer puts the finishing touches on the city’s latest mural Monday afternoon. The mural is composed of five panels with each panel depicting a portion of the Chickasaw Nation and its people.

Anyone who happened to drive down Veterans Boulevard over the weekend or Monday could see Bob Palmer and his crew painting Ardmore’s newest mural on the east wall of Skateland. Palmer also created the murals at Lake Murray Drive, the Legal Aid Building, the Ardmoreite building, and inside the Greater Southwest Historical Museum. Each of the murals depict one aspect of area history and this one is no exception - it shows the history of the Chickasaw Nation and its people.

The mural is a result of a collaboration of the Ardmore Beautification Council and the Chickasaw Nation. It is divided into five sections and each depicts one aspect of the Chickasaw story. To ensure accuracy, a team of Chickasaw Nation historians helped select the elements included in each of the panels.

The first panel tells their Migration Story. In the distant past the Chickasaw and Choctaw were one people that lived west of the Mississippi River. Two brothers, Chiksa’ and Chahta led the people on an eastward journey to find a new homeland. After crossing the river, the tribe split with a portion choosing to continue east with Chiksa’ and another choosing to stay with Chahta. Their followers become known as the Chickasaw and the Choctaw, respectively.

Palmer said the second panel depicts a snapshot of everyday life in the Chickasaw homeland in present-day Kentucky, Tennessee, Mississippi and Alabama. It shows a group playing stickball, traditional housing, and corn, beans and squash — known to the Chickasaw as the three sisters.

The third panel depicts the people on the Trail of Tears after the Indian Removal Act forced them from their homeland. The fourth shows some of the first buildings they built once arriving in Indian Territory, and the final panel represents the Chickasaw Nation today.

“It shows the Great Seal of the Chickasaw Nation and a map of Oklahoma that outlines the boundaries of the nation,” Palmer said. “There’s also a group of people to show that people of all different colors are a part of the Chickasaw Nation.”

Palmer said the project was scheduled to begin on Monday, but he and his team decided to start on Saturday afternoon to take advantage of the nice weather. He expected the mural to be completed by the end of the day on Monday. He said he thinks the mural turned out nicely.

“The best time to take a look is when the sun’s out in the morning,” Palmer said. “The sun really lights it up and it’s pretty to see.”