Visit our COVID-19 Information pages for details regarding the coronavirus as it relates to the Chickasaw Nation.
News > Press Releases > Press Release

Press Release

Release Date: July 13, 2022
by Chickasaw Nation Media Relations Office

The “Chickasaw Warrior” statue in front of the Casa Blanca building serves as a symbol of the perseverance essential to college success, according to Randi Sunray, director of the Chokka’ Kilimpi’ program.

“It is a visible reminder that the Chickasaw people are still here and will continue to persevere,” said Sunray, who oversees the recruitment and retention program from the historic structure at 103 W. Boyd St., Norman, Oklahoma, near the University of Oklahoma (OU) campus. “The statue is prominently placed in the front of the building, signifying this is a Chickasaw building, evoking a sense of pride for Chickasaw students at OU,” said Sunray.

Since May 10, 2005, dedication of the statue marked placement of the first statue in front of Chickasaw Nation headquarters in Ada, Oklahoma, the sculpture has become an iconic symbol of the Chickasaw warrior spirit. Replicas of the original bronze statue are now located throughout the state.

Adorned in traditional regalia, “Chickasaw Warrior” portrays how Chickasaw warriors looked before European contact. Culture and humanities staff of the Chickasaw Nation worked with the late world-renowned Seminole artist and statesman Enoch Kelly Haney to refine the details of the completed statue’s look.

Archeological findings and written descriptions of Chickasaws from early Europeans were also used to create the image of “Chickasaw Warrior.” Clothing, physical appearance, weapons, jewelry and culturally significant encoded messages were expressed in the statue during the creative process.

Notable features of the statue include four feathers adorning his roached hairstyle and four feathers attached to his tree bark shield. Early Chickasaws regarded the number four with spiritual reverence. Chickasaws continue to celebrate the number with the Four Corners Dance. The four arbors within the stomp dance grounds are set in the four directions of the compass.

The likeness of the “Chickasaw Warrior” was also selected for use on the tribal license plates available to Chickasaw citizens.

About the Chokka’ Kilimpi’ (Strong Home) Recruitment and Retention program

The Chickasaw Nation Chokka’ Kilimpi’ Recruitment and Retention Program prepares, supports, and empowers Chickasaw students for success at OU, University of Central Oklahoma, Oklahoma City Community College, Murray State College and East Central University.

“The primary goal of the program is to increase retention rates for Chickasaw students,” Sunray said. “The program provides a sense of community and a sense of connection to the Chickasaw Nation and campus resources.”

The Chokka’ Kilimpi’ Recruitment and Retention program’s on-campus coordinators serve as academic and cultural advocates, and provide a connection to Chickasaw Nation programs and services.

The program is designed to meet the academic needs of students by assisting in the development of their academic skills, identifying campus and tribal resources, creating networks of support on and off campus, and building a stronger connection to their Chickasaw culture.

“Campuses provide a lot of services to students,” Sunray said. “Sometimes students aren’t aware of the types of services available. We make sure our students know the services available to them.”

The services provided are designed to help students meet other Chickasaw students who attend these colleges and find a sense of community on campus. The program is unique in that it caters to the specific needs of college students by aiding in their academic success.

The recruitment and retention program offers cultural, social and academic events, including coffee breaks, lunch breaks and study hall sessions. Cultural classes such as basket weaving and drum making are also program components.

“Chokka’ Kilimpi’ translates into Chickasaw as ‘Strong Home,’” Sunray said. “Our student centers provide a strong home to our students as they are away from their families. We rally behind them so that they are successful in their college experience.”

Students in the program have attended First American film festivals, Oklahoma City Thunder games, Women’s History Month movies and discussion panels. The program partners with the Native American Student Association on campuses to provide event and networking opportunities for students.

“We have monthly culture events,” Sunray said. “Feather painting, movie nights, making pucker toe moccasins are all activities that students love to do. We see Chickasaw students interacting with other Chickasaw students. We have seen where Chickasaw students have realized that they are related. That is wonderful to experience.”

Their presence on campus provides an extra avenue of support for students during their studies, making sure they stay on track in their classes and graduate on time. Coordinators also assist students by guiding them through scholarship and grant processes and letting them know when new funding opportunities are available.

For more information, visit Chickasaw.net/RR, email RR@Chickasaw.net or call (405) 767-8943.