1987 Indian Village Dr., Memphis, Tennessee
Named for its founding director, the archaeological museum devoted to Native Americans preserves a site that was occupied, abandoned, and reoccupied numerous times between a.d. 1000 and 1550. Artifacts unearthed during excavations cast light on daily life in a Mississippian village of 800 to 1,000 people—how they farmed, dressed and ornamented themselves, and even treated illnesses with native plants. Also displayed are a range of stone tools and hunting weapons.
Visitors to the archaeology lab are actually allowed to pick up and examine pottery pieces and other items from a representative sampling of artifacts. The museum is unusual in another respect as well: Native Americans have acted as the primary interpreters for decades, and their service is honored with displays of individual photographs and profiles.
Displays fast forward to the present at the Choctaw Heritage Exhibit, featuring the basketry, ceramics, and handmade clothing items of contemporary Choctaw artisans. Outdoors in the arboretum, visitors learn how the early inhabitants of Chucalissa used indigenous trees and plants to make housing materials, weaponry, everyday items, and herbal medicines.
Chucalissa lies on the southern edge of Memphis just outside the boundary of T. O. Fuller State Park. Here travelers seeking nature and recreation will find picnic grounds, sports fields, a swimming pool, and six miles of trails winding through woods inhabited by deer and wild turkeys. Bird-watchers can spot numerous tree-dwelling species and waterfowl on the shores of adjacent Lake McKellar.
Museum open daily except Mon. Dec. – Mar. Admission charged. Park open year-round.