More Than A Logo: Seasons of Chickasaw History


Do you know what our logo is inspired by?

In 1723, the Chickasaw leader Squirrel King (Fani' Minko') presented a deerskin map of the Southern continent to the governor of South Carolina. It was a rendering of the world as Chickasaws knew it, a placement of tribes and waterways, the British, the French, and others across more than seven hundred thousand square miles. Designed by our Artist Board Chair Joanna Underwood Blackburn, this logo reflects the design work of this early map.

You can learn more about the story of this map on Chickasaw TV. Above is a rendering of this map from Chickasaw TV.

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Beyond the map design, the center circle (pictured above), holds dual meaning - at its core, a place of sacred fire where logs burn and smoke carries prayers to the Creator. Then like cardinal directions, it extends outward, finding place among an evolving aesthetic community. Finally the motif of the seasons formulates a creative ecology, a continuum of visual voices guiding the beauty and rhythm of Chickasaw life and art.

The symbols below are designed to reference the seasons. Since our earliest days, Chickasaw lifeways and ceremonies formed around the rhythm of four seasons. These seasons as metaphor symbolize periods of chance throughout Chickasaw History.

Toompalli” (Summer): Emerging From The Mounds

Toompalli’ represents the Early Mississippian period in the Southeast, beginning in 900 AD. Toompalli’ was a time for sustained growth and long, light-filled days. It was during this era that Chickasaws developed distinctive artistic styles. Substantial agriculture and trade networks allowed artistic expression and mastery to flourish in our ancestors’ thriving metropolitan mound centers.


Hashtola’ Ammo’na’ (Fall): Harvesting Before the Storm

Toompalli’ melds into Hashtola’ Ammo’na’ (Fall), a time for harvest and storing resources for the winter months ahead. After contact with the Spanish in 1540, both warfare and diplomacy became equally important to Chickasaw survival. Our ancestors navigated an increasingly dangerous and complex political climate as not only Spanish but other Europeans sought resources and power in the Southeast. Chickasaw leaders were prepared, just as one stores the valuable harvest for the coming winter months, and fought for our tribal identity, lands, and nationhood.


Hashtola’ (Winter): Storing Seeds For Our Children

Hashtola’ symbolizes the bleak Removal period of the 1830s when Southeast tribes were coerced by a government under President Andrew Jackson to trade our Southeast homelands for lands west of the Mississippi (now Oklahoma). Chickasaw descendants of those who survived the long, grueling journey of Removal faced an onslaught of assimilation policies for another century in their new home. Legacies of these hardships still resonate today with Chickasaw artists and their work as we heal from intergenerational trauma.


Toompalli’ Ishtayya’ / Yohbi: Our Ancestors Are Singing

Chickasaw culture is rooted in ‘place’ like seeds that lay dormant through the hard frosts of winter, but spring to life with the warmth of Toompalli’ Ishtayya’/Yohbi (Spring). For many decades it was too painful to look back after the loss of our Southeastern homelands, however, the Chickasaw Nation has experienced new life and is continually transforming. Under the leadership of Governor Bill Anoatubby since 1987, tribal enterprises have grown and prospered, providing new opportunities for Chickasaws in areas of healthcare, education, cultural revitalization, and the arts.