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Press Release

Release Date: February 12, 2021

by Chickasaw Nation Media Relations Office

  • On the banks of Pennington Creek in Oklahoma the first Chickasaw Nation Constitution was drafted in 1856. The creek holds historic and cultural significance to the Chickasaw people.

Few places are as historically valuable as Pennington Creek for the Chickasaw Nation. Meandering through the center of Tishomingo, Oklahoma, Pennington Creek serves as a reminder of perseverance of the Chickasaw people.

Now named Tishomingo, the area on the banks of Pennington Creek that would become the capital of the Chickasaw Nation was previously named Good Spring. The site played a significant role in the future settlement of the Chickasaw Nation. With an abundance of fresh, clean drinking water, many Chickasaws would come to live on the banks of Pennington Creek after Removal from the Chickasaw Homeland east of the Mississippi River.

In 1856, the Chickasaw Council House was built near the banks of Pennington Creek. It is where Chickasaw leaders and citizens would meet to create their own laws for their land.

A committee drafted the formal constitution for the Chickasaw Nation within the Chickasaw Council House. It would be ratified the next year. The constitution would be the guide of how the Chickasaw Nation would govern itself. The small council house would continue to be used by Chickasaw leadership until a larger, more permanent brick structure was built on the original location.

The Chickasaw Constitution provided for a three-department system of government – executive, legislative and judicial. The basic government structure established by that document continues to serve the Chickasaw Nation well to this day.

Tishomingo began as a trade center and served as the capital city of the Chickasaw Nation, Indian Territory, from 1856 until Oklahoma statehood in 1907. Named for Tishominko, a Chickasaw leader who died during Removal.

Pennington Creek flows for more than 25 miles through Johnston County. The creek is the sole source of drinking water for the city of Tishomingo and today serves as a regional recreational resource. Pennington Creek’s waters flow directly out of the Arbuckle Simpson Aquifer.

Pennington Creek provides habitat to many game animals and fish and provides water to the Tishomingo National Fish Hatchery, located north of the city of Tishomingo. According to the fish hatchery’s website, it conserves imperiled aquatic species found in the Arkansas and Red River Basins. The hatchery was established in 1929 on lands purchased from Chickasaw citizens.

Along with is natural beauty, Pennington Creek provides miles of habitation for migratory birds and other wildlife. Before flowing into Lake Texoma, Pennington Creek provides water to Cumberland Pool. Cumberland Pool makes up a quarter of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services Tishomingo National Wildlife Refuge.

Pennington Creek continues to be a centerpiece for the city of Tishomingo. Flowing just south of downtown, the creek draws the community together. In the early 20th century, the town came together to build a walking bridge across it.

Today, Pennington Creek Park in Tishomingo serves as a gathering place for families and friends from Tishomingo and across the country who visit this park for fishing, camping and community events.