The culture of a people lies in their native language. Such is true for the Chickasaw, who belong to the Muskhogean speaking peoples of the southeast. Their ancient language was described by early Europeans as “very agreeable to the ear, courteous, gentle and musical.” (The letter R does not exist in the Chickasaw language.) Many concepts within the language have no English counterpart and cannot be described in European terms of understanding.

The spoken word is often expressed through song and accompanied by dance. The use of clay pot drums, rattles and cane flutes added to self-expression on many different levels. The stomp dance was a fundamental part of many religious and social meetings. Both men and women participated as headmen sang songs, and women provided musical accompaniment with turtle shell shackles worn on their legs.

These elements of Chickasaw social and religious life were, and still are, a vital part of Chickasaw identity and connectedness.

Among the many artists who have shared Chickasaw music and traditions with the world, Te Ata Thompson Fisher may be the most well-known. Inducted into the Chickasaw Hall of Fame in 1990, Te Ata is among the most influential Chickasaw women. She was a noted actress and storyteller recognized around the world. The Chickasaw Nation has produced a feature film about the life of this inspiring woman. Find out more about the film Te Ata by visiting