Chickasaw Inkana Foundation CEO Brady Davis provides an update on the Chickasaw Heritage Center to the City of Tupelo

On the afternoon of Tuesday May 11th Chickasaw Inkana Foundation (CIF) Chief Executive Officer, Brady Davis, delivered a presentation on the forthcoming Chickasaw Heritage Center (CHC) in the City Council Chamber at Tupelo’s City Hall. Many local elected leaders including the mayor of Tupelo, city council members, other city officials, several state representatives, as well as members of the public were in attendance.

Davis began by introducing Mr. Robert Parker, director of the CHC.  Mr. Parker joined the CIF team in April of 2020, and has been instrumental in the progress the project has seen over the last year.  Mr. Parker said, “I am honored to be associated with the establishment of a multilayered project of this magnitude. In the end, the Chickasaw Heritage Center will create an opportunity for Chickasaw citizens to reconnect to their historic Homeland in a meaningful and tangible way and will offer an immersive, evocative and educational experience for all to enjoy.”

Davis provided a comprehensive update on the foundation and on the significant progress that has been made over the last eighteen months on the CHC project.  The Center will be located on 160 acres between the Natchez Trace Parkway’s Chickasaw Village Site and the West Jackson Street Extension. In addition, a special right-of-way has been provided to the City of Tupelo from the Department of the Interior to construct a public access point to the CHC directly from the Natchez Trace Parkway. Furthermore, Davis highlighted the significance of the CHC, both in terms of allowing for the interpretation of Chickasaw culture and history from a Chickasaw perspective, and of providing a space for the public to learn more about an integral part of the region’s history.  He also discussed the potential for an annual economic impact of $5.6 – $6 million, the creation of at least 25 permanent jobs and the expectation of at least 100,000 visitors per year. Davis ended by speaking about the project moving forward. He described the next steps that need to be taken with the City of Tupelo and the foundation’s other partners who are supporting the project. The most important being the signing of an MOU between Tupelo and the Foundation that will initiate the road work so construction vehicles can safely enter the site without disturbing surrounding neighborhoods.  Davis said, “This center will be a world class destination dedicated to helping people of all ages and backgrounds share in and celebrate the rich and vibrant history and culture of the Chickasaw people. The center will also serve as an anchor for heritage tourism and adds to the growing variety of experiences available in Tupelo and northeast Mississippi.”

Following Davis’s remarks several in attendance voiced their support for the project, including CIF board member, Jessica Crawford. Crawford said, “As an archaeologist and as a Mississippian, I’m proud to be a part of this project. I manage archaeological sites in 8 Southeastern States and I don’t know of another example of a tribe returning to its ancestral homeland and partnering with the local community to build something that educates the public about their heritage and culture. The Chickasaw Heritage Center is truly groundbreaking.”