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: November 17, 2021
by Chickasaw Nation Media Relations Office

TUPELO, Miss. - Governor Bill Anoatubby has appointed Robert T. Parker Director of the Chicka­saw Heritage Center.

“Robert Parker has the knowl­edge, skills and experience need­ed to ensure this new Heritage Center honors the significance of our traditional Chickasaw Home­land,” Gov. Anoatubby said. “His keen understanding of American history and experience present­ing that history in a dynamic for­mat have prepared him well for this important new role.”

Mr. Parker, 43, was appointed to lead the Chickasaw Nation’s con­struction and operation of the Chickasaw Inkana Foundation’s Chickasaw Heritage Center in Tu­pelo, Mississippi.

Mr. Parker moved to Tupelo in mid-April 2020 during the throes of the national pandemic to be­gin work on the Chickasaw Heri­tage Center. He sees a “resistance and resilience” in the Chickasaw Nation akin to “any people who are marginalized and disenfran­chised. What makes Chickasaws so historically important and significant is the tribe is un­conquered and unconquerable. I find that fascinating, both as a historian and interpreter of United States history. I believe the Chickasaw Nation is the only tribe that can make that claim with the historical record avail­able to prove it.

“The biggest excitement for me is that this new facility will be a brick-and-mortar project whereby Chickasaws may return to their ancestral Homeland to enjoy all the center has to offer. My goal is to make it an experience where the Chickasaw Nation’s cultural and historical significance will be shared from the Chickasaw per­spective and celebrated. It will serve as a reminder of what the Chickasaw Nation accomplished here before being removed to present day Oklahoma.”

Mr. Parker arrived at the Chick­asaw Nation from Washington, D.C., after serving as director of Exhibits, Education and Visitor Services at the United States Navy Memorial Foundation’s Naval Her­itage Center. He began his tenure there in 2017.

He also has served as superin­tendent of the Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad National Historical Park, in Cambridge, Maryland. There, he led the cre­ation of new park exhibits and programs and establishing the startup operations. The park is part of the U.S. Department of the Interior’s National Park Service.

Before working at the Tubman National Park, Mr. Parker served as interim superintendent for the Charles Young Buffalo Soldiers National Monument in Wilber­force, Ohio, and former President William Howard Taft National Historic Site in Cincinnati, Ohio, which are managed by the Na­tional Park Service.

He was supervisory park ranger at the Martin Luther King Jr., Na­tional Historical Park in Atlanta, Georgia, where he served as chief of interpretation, education and cultural resource manager for the National Park. Additionally, he served as park manager for the Mary McLeod Bethune Coun­cil House National Historic Site, Carter G. Woodson Home Nation­al Historic Site and Capitol Hill Parks in Washington, D.C.

He has served as an adjunct professor at Southeastern Uni­versity and the University of the District of Columbia, both located in Washington, D.C., and a pro­fessor of United States History at Germanna Community College in Fredericksburg, Virginia.

He is engaged in his doctoral dissertation in United States His­tory with minors in public history and African diaspora at Howard University in Washington, D.C.

Mr. Parker earned a Bachelor of Arts in professional history with a minor in museum and archi­val studies from North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University in Greensboro. He earned a master’s degree in pub­lic history with a specialty in cul­tural resource management from North Carolina State University, in Raleigh.

“I am honored to be associated with such a major inaugural proj­ect, to be a part of this legacy and contribute my footprint,” he said. “The Chickasaw Nation is a great sovereign nation. I am passionate about its mission, and I am im­mensely proud to be a part of the family.”

Construction on the Chickasaw Heritage Center has yet to start. Research and development on the project is ongoing.

The center will be approximate­ly 40,000 square feet with an ad­ditional 10,000 square feet for the maintenance facility all located on 162.5 acres off the Natchez Trace Parkway. The Chickasaw Inkana Foundation is the non­profit organization spearheading the project.

The Foundation has been work­ing on a variety of projects re­lated to the preservation, protec­tion and history of Chickasaw re­sources located in the Homeland since 2014. The organization has partnered with the Department of the Interior’s National Park Service, the State of Mississippi, the City of Tupelo and other local and regional entities in support of the Chickasaw Heritage Center project.

“We want this facility to be a national destination location,” Mr. Parker said. “We want the world to come and experience the Chickasaw story and the sacred traditions and heritage that took root here during the pre-removal times.”

Mr. Parker is the youngest of five children born to Hilton and Luberta Parker, who celebrated 59 years of marriage this year. He grew up on a farm in Kinston, N.C., where the family produced crops of soybeans, cotton and tobacco. His parents were the fourth generation to farm almost 2,000 acres (owned and leased) of land. The family is no longer actively farming.

“In my 22 years as a public historian, the passion I have for the development of new museum facilities, startup operations, historically significant sites and visitor experiences to come to full operational fruition is just so overwhelmingly satisfying,” Mr. Parker said. “To work on such an important history and the creation of immersive exhibits is fascinating. People come and learn and are encouraged and motivated to learn more.

“We want this facility to be pro­vocative, leaving visitors with a desire to return and learn more about Chickasaw history, life and culture.”