Press Releases

March 4, 2014
Cherokee Heritage Center receives grant to help preserve historic documents

TAHLEQUAH, Okla. The Oklahoma Department of Libraries, in partnership with the Oklahoma Historical Records Advisory Board and the Oklahoma Cultural Heritage Trust, has awarded the Cherokee Heritage Center a Preservation Assistance Grant of $2,296 to purchase essential supplies for the Cherokee National Archives.

“These funds help our staff preserve a unique set of Oklahoma and Cherokee documents, which are housed in the basement of our museum, by purchasing acid-free boxes and emergency supplies kits,” said Candessa Tehee, executive director of the Cherokee Heritage Center. “Through this grant, we’re able to continue fulfilling the Heritage Center’s mission to preserve, promote and teach Cherokee history and culture.”

The archives include an ever-increasing collection of important Cherokee historical records, encompassing a collection of 167 manuscripts, 579 historic photographs, 562 original newspapers dating back to the early 1700s and 832 audio holdings. Attached to the archival vault is a non-circulating library with a specialized collection of 2,035 books for patron and staff use.

“In presenting this grant to the Cherokee Heritage Center, it is our intention to help further its commitment to providing the best possible care of the historic materials in its collections,” said Susan McVey, director of the Oklahoma Department of Libraries. “We hope that these grants will facilitate increased local support for the care of historic collections held by organizations such as the Cherokee Heritage Center.”

According to McVey, the grant opportunity was an outcome of a statewide survey that assessed the condition of collections held by Oklahoma’s 800 museums and libraries. The study found that almost all organizations have lost historic materials through theft, environmental damage and other causes.

“It is our goal to stem the loss of Oklahoma’s heritage by providing funding for secure storage, environmental controls, archival storage supplies, fire detection and other projects that address threats to collections,” McVey said.

Support for the grant program was provided by the National Historical Publications and Records Commission, the funding arm for the National Archives and Records Administration. Grants totaling $50,000 were awarded to 12 Oklahoma institutions.

With support from the Institute of Museum and Library Services, an additional 12 organizations will receive the assistance of a professional conservator to assist with the development of Collections Assessment Plans.

The Cherokee Heritage Center is the premier cultural center for Cherokee tribal history, culture and the arts. For information on the 2014 season events, operating hours and programs, please contact the Cherokee Heritage Center at (888) 999-6007 or visit www.CherokeeHeritage.org. It can also be found on Facebook by searching “Cherokee Heritage Center.”

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December 20, 2013
Cherokee Heritage Center announces 2014 schedule of events

TAHLEQUAH, Okla. — Cherokee Heritage Center, the premier cultural center for tribal history, culture and arts, continues its commitment to preserving and honoring Cherokee culture in 2014 by offering several art shows and exhibitions, educational programs and cultural classes.

Art Shows and Events

Cherokee Nation: A Portrait of a People – Now-April 6: Cherokee people brought to life through photography by internationally renowned photographer David Fitzgerald.

Indian Territory Days – March 27 & 28: Two days of hands-on activities, games and demonstrations for school age children with a focus on Cherokee life in the late 19th century.

Trail of Tears Art Show and Sale – April 12-May 25: Enjoy and purchase authentic Native American art presented in one of the country’s most prestigious multi-tribal art shows.

Gospel Sing – May 17: Local Cherokee groups sing gospel songs in Cherokee and English. A free hog fry is provided to the guests and participants.

Diligwa, 300 Years in the Making: June 2 – Aug 24: The construction of the Tsalagi Village in 1967 was based on available information, but did not have the benefit of archaeological literature. The 1710 Diligwa village broke ground in 2011, and the Cherokee Heritage Center incorporated new archeological data that was developed over time. Learn how new and old technology made Diligwa possible.

Cherokee Ancestry Conference – June 13 & 14: The latest search tools and resources for genealogical research of Cherokee ancestry, guest speakers and workshops highlight the conference.

Cherokee National Homecoming Fair – Aug. 29-31: See original Cherokee art at the Homecoming Art Show, take a tour of the 1710 Cherokee village Diligwa and explore over 70 arts and crafts booths.

Cherokee Homecoming Art Show and Sale – Aug. 30-Sept. 21: Don’t miss the exclusive exhibition and sale of modern and traditional Cherokee art.

First Families of the Cherokee Nation Reunion – Aug. 31: A celebratory gathering of Cherokee descendants who can demonstrate legal residency prior to ratification of the 1839 Cherokee Constitution.

1710 Cherokee: Hands On – Sept. 29- March 2015: Guests of all ages become Cherokee villagers as they use their senses and critical thinking skills to explore art, math and cultural concepts in an exciting hands-on environment.

Ancient Cherokee Days – Oct. 2 & 3: Two days of hands-on activities, traditional Cherokee games and demonstrations for school-aged children, with a focus on the early 1700s.

Genealogy Classes – first Saturday of each month: Learn about family history with experienced genealogists at the Cherokee Family Research Center.

Classes are designed to teach Cherokee culture and history through the arts. Each class will feature a historical overview and art instruction. All materials are provided. Students leave with a project.

Cultural Classes

Honeysuckle Baskets – March 8: Students learn the process of gathering, processing and making baskets using the natural honeysuckle reed.

1700 Cherokee Clothing – April 12: The history of Cherokee clothing and trade shirts, skirts, breechclout and leggings construction.

Basic Cherokee Beadwork – May 10: Learn the rich history of Cherokee beadwork and learn essential stitches and techniques to create Cherokee beadwork.

Beginning Pottery – June 14: Essential elements of building Cherokee pottery will be taught.

Flint Knapping – Aug. 9: The skills of flint knapping for tools and weapons will be presented.

Flat Reed Basketry – Sept. 13: The history and basket making techniques of flat reed basketry.

Advanced Pottery – Oct. 11: Learn the elements of firing pottery, paint, slips and other finishing techniques for Cherokee pottery.

Round-Reed Basketry – Nov. 8: The unique characteristic of Cherokee double walled basketry.

Cherokee Clothing: Hunting Jacket – Dec. 13: Called a symbol of diplomacy, the construction and design of the Cherokee hunting jacket will be taught.

Registration fee for classes is $40 and times are 10 a.m. – 3 p.m., except for Advanced Beadwork, which is $65 and is 8 a.m – 5 p.m.

Cultural class registration is required since attendance is limited.  Children must be at least 12 years of age, and an adult must accompany children ages 12-17.

For registration or additional information, please contact the Cherokee Heritage Center education department at (888) 999-6007 or by email at tonia-weavel@cherokee.org.

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November 4, 2013
Two individuals, group honored for contributions to Cherokee Nation

Cherokee National Historical Society presented awards at SevenStar Gala

TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – The Cherokee National Historical Society on Saturday honored Dr. Duane King, Stacy Leeds and the Cherokee Nation Translation Department for their contributions to the Cherokee Nation.

The awards were handed out at the SevenStar Gala, which provides an opportunity to recognize those who promote the Cherokee National Historical Society’s mission to preserve, promote and teach Cherokee history and culture.

The Stalwart Award is given to a Cherokee Heritage Center supporter who has served as a longtime member, volunteer, employee, board member or associate and has significantly contributed to the center’s success.

This year’s honoree, King, is the executive director of Gilcrease Museum and vice president for Museum Affairs and Thomas Gilcrease Chair at The University of Tulsa.

Prior to joining Gilcrease Museum, King has served as executive director of the Southwest Museum, as assistant director of the Smithsonian Institutions’ National Museum of the American Indian at the George Gustav Heye Center in New York City, and as director of the Cherokee Heritage Center from 1982-1987.

King received his undergraduate degree from the University of Tennessee and his M.A. and Ph.D. degrees from the University of Georgia. His M.A. thesis was based on his field research of 18th Century Cherokee Sites in Tennessee, and his Ph.D. dissertation was “A Grammar and Dictionary of the Cherokee Language.” He has authored more than 100 publications on various aspects of museum studies and American Indian culture and history.

The Contemporary Achievement Award recognizes a Cherokee who is accomplished in a chosen field(s), has brought honor to the Cherokee Nation and serves as an inspiration for others.

This year’s honoree, Leeds, has served as dean and professor of law at the University of Arkansas School of Law since 2011. She holds law degrees from the University of Wisconsin (LL.M.) and the University of Tulsa (J.D.). She is also a graduate of Washington University in St. Louis (B.A.) and the University of Tennessee (M.B.A.).

In Nov. 2011, Leeds was appointed to serve a two-year term on the National Commission on Indian Trust Administration and Reform within the U.S. Department of the Interior. The commission will conclude its forward-looking, comprehensive evaluation of the United State’s management of nearly $4 billion in Native American trust funds and assets in Nov. 2013. Leeds is also currently serving as chairperson of the Cherokee Nation Gaming Commission.

Leeds is a Cherokee Nation citizen and a former justice on the Cherokee Nation Supreme Court. She divides her time between Fayetteville, Ark., and the Illinois River near Tahlequah, Okla.

The Tradition Bearer Award is typically presented to a Cherokee who is accomplished and recognized for achievements in preserving Cherokee traditions through crafts, history and/or storytelling. This year, the SevenStar Gala Committee felt strongly that this award should be presented to a group of individuals whose collective mission is to preserve the Cherokee language.

Accepting the SevenStar Tradition Bearer award on behalf of the CNTD are the program manager, Candessa Tehee; David Crawler, Phyllis Edwards, John Ross, Anna Sixkiller and Dennis Sixkiller, Office of Translation; Durbin Feeling, Language Technology; and Lula Elk, Ed Fields and Edna Jones, Community Language.

The award recipients create history as they canonize the Cherokee language in a number of formats, including an interactive online word list, audio dictionaries and other seminal texts. CNTD translates an enormous amount of material for the Cherokee Nation, Cherokee Nation Businesses, schools, hospitals, the Cherokee Phoenix, the general public and a host of other institutions.

The Cherokee Heritage Center is the premier cultural center for Cherokee tribal history, culture and the arts. For information on the 2013 season events, operating hours and programs, please contact the Cherokee Heritage Center at (888) 999-6007 or visit www.CherokeeHeritage.org. It can also be found on Facebook by searching “Cherokee Heritage Center.”

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September 25, 2013
Celebrate Museum Day by visiting Cherokee Nation museums, Cherokee Heritage Center at no cost

TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – This Saturday, in honor of Museum Day, all three Cherokee Nation museums and the Cherokee Heritage Center are offering free museum admission.

Cherokee Nation museums include the Cherokee National Supreme Court Museum, the Cherokee National Prison Museum and the John Ross Museum.

Originally built in 1844, the Cherokee National Supreme Court Museum is Oklahoma’s oldest public building. The 1,950-square-foot museum features exhibits in three historic aspects: the Cherokee National Judicial System, the Cherokee Advocate and Cherokee Phoenix newspapers, and the Cherokee language, with a variety of historical items, including photos, stories, objects and furniture.

The Cherokee National Prison was the only penitentiary building in Indian Territory from 1875 to 1901. It housed sentenced and accused prisoners from throughout the territory. Built of sandstone rock, the prison was made to hold the most hardened and dangerous prisoners. The interpretive site and museum show visitors how law and order operated in Indian Territory. The historic site features a working blacksmith area and reconstructed gallows. Today’s museum offers an interactive kiosk to learn stories of notorious Cherokees and how they were perceived as outlaws in the Cherokee Nation, while others were revered as patriots.

The John Ross Museum highlights the life of John Ross, Principal Chief of the Cherokee Nation for more than 38 years, and houses exhibits and interactive displays on the Trail of Tears, Civil War, Cherokee Golden Age and Cherokee Nation’s passion for the education of its people.

The Cherokee Heritage Center is the premier cultural center for Cherokee tribal history, culture and the arts. In June, the Heritage Center opened Diligwa, which depicts Cherokee life in 1710. For more information, contact the Cherokee Heritage Center at (888) 999-6007 or visit www.CherokeeHeritage.org. It can also be found on Facebook by searching “Cherokee Heritage Center.”

The Cherokee National Supreme Court Museum is located at 122 E. Keetoowah St., and the Cherokee National Prison Museum is at 124 E. Choctaw St., both in Tahlequah. The John Ross Museum is located at 22366 S. 530 Rd. in Park Hill, Okla.

For information on Cherokee Nation Cultural Tourism, including museum operations, please call (877) 779-6977 or visit www.CherokeeTourismOK.com.

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June 12, 2013
Cherokee Nation Historical Society celebrates 50 years with exhibit

Cherokee Heritage Center exhibit showcases nearly 200 items

TAHLEQUAH, Okla.It has been 50 years since the Cherokee National Historical Society began its mission of preserving, promoting and teaching Cherokee history and culture. In honor of this milestone, Cherokee Heritage Center officials have created a 50th anniversary exhibit.

The exhibit runs through Aug. 18 and features more than 70 objects, 100 pictures and a five-minute film that showcase the history of the Cherokee Heritage Center. Among the items are an original Stand Watie costume and original programs for the summer drama and architectural models created by Charles “Chief” Boyd of what was the original vision for CHC.

“Local families have created many great memories here, whether it was visiting on a school field trip or with family, or as a staff member working in the museum or on the grounds,” said Mickel Yantz, museum curator, Cherokee Heritage Center. “We’re excited to share memorabilia that tell our story and help bring back some of those fond memories of our first 50 years.”

As part of the celebration, CHC officials are inviting all former staff members, including those who worked in the Ancient Village and the TsaLaGi Ampitheater, to a reunion on July 27. It is slated to begin at 11 a.m., and attendees are encouraged to bring a picnic lunch and lawn chair.

Earlier this month, CHC officials celebrated the opening of Diligwa, a new village portraying the most authentic Cherokee experience based on life in 1710. Items from the design and implementation of the new village are included in the exhibit.

Diligwa replaces the Ancient Village and provides visitors the chance to experience Cherokee life in the early 18th century. It features 19 wattle and daub structures, 14 interpretive stations, and a detailed historic landscape set on four acres of land adjacent to the Cherokee Heritage Center.

“Having this exhibit coincide with the opening of Diligwa offers us the opportunity to celebrate our past while welcoming everyone to share with us the creation of more great memories in the years to come,” said Cheryl Parrish, interim executive director for the Cherokee Heritage Center.

The Cherokee Heritage Center is the premier cultural center for Cherokee tribal history, culture and the arts. For information on the 2013 season events, operating hours and programs, please contact the Cherokee Heritage Center at (888) 999-6007 or visit www.CherokeeHeritage.org. It can also be found on Facebook by searching “Cherokee Heritage Center.”

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June 3, 2013
Diligwa opens at Cherokee Heritage Center

New village portrays most authentic Cherokee experience based in early 1700s

TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – Cherokee Heritage Center officials celebrated Monday the opening of Diligwa, a new village portraying the most authentic Cherokee experience based on life in 1710.

Diligwa replaces the Ancient Village, which opened in 1967 and was originally designed as an interpretive area to showcase Cherokee daily life prior to European contact. The new village is a more accurate representation of the past due to the resources available today and more in-depth research. “This is a monumental moment for the Cherokee Heritage Center,” said Cheryl Parrish, interim executive director for the Cherokee Heritage Center. “Our mission is to preserve and promote Cherokee culture, and Diligwa allows us to do that better than ever by more accurately showing what life was like 300 years ago.”

Diligwa is a name derivative of Tellico, a village in the east that was once the principal Cherokee town and is now underwater. Tellico was the Cherokee Nation capital and center of commerce before the emergence of Echota in Monroe County, Tenn. Tellico was often referred to as the “wild rice place” and became synonymous with a native grain that grew in the flat open spaces of east Tennessee. Many believe when the Cherokees first arrived in Indian Territory, the native grasses that grew in the open spaces around the foothills of the Ozarks reminded them of the grassy open areas of Tellico. They called their new home “Di li gwa,” Tah-le-quah or Teh-li-co, “the open place where the grass grows.”

“We created a world-class venue that gives users a firsthand look into the Cherokee Nation’s culture and traditional lifeways,” said Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Bill John Baker. “The new village will be an authentic educational experience for Cherokees and non-Cherokees alike. We are proud to use this new setting to promote the tribe’s history and ensure our culture tourism efforts remain second to none.” The new village provides visitors the chance to experience Cherokee life in the early 18th century and features 19 wattle and daub structures, 14 interpretive stations, and a detailed historic landscape set on four acres of land adjacent to the Cherokee Heritage Center.

Visitors can witness daily life as they are guided through the interpretive stations where crafts are demonstrated, stories are told, and Cherokee lifeways are explained.

Diligwa includes eight residential sites, each with a Cherokee summer house and winter house, which will soon feature a corn crib, a “kitchen garden” and additional landscaping, including the placement of foliage at the fenced perimeter. The public complex consists of the primary council house and summer council pavilion overlooking a large plaza that served as the center of community activity.

In addition, two recreation areas featuring a marble field and stickball field will showcase the Cherokee games that are still played today.

Rounding out the list of contributors is Tom J. and Edna Mae Carson Foundation, $250,000; Cherokee Nation Businesses, $250,000; Mary K. Chapman Foundation, $100,000; Boyd Group, $36,000; and the Gelvin Foundation, $2,500.

The project began with planning and design from Feb. 2007 to Dec. 2010. Implementation began with site preparation from Jan. to July 2011, and construction began in Oct. 2011.

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May 31, 2013
Cherokee Heritage Center presents 12th Annual Cherokee Ancestry Conference

TAHLEQUAH, Okla.Finding family has never been easier when attending the Cherokee Heritage Center’s 12th Annual Cherokee Ancestry Conference on June 14-15 at 8:30 a.m. each day in the Osiyo Training Room at the Cherokee Nation Tribal Complex at 17725 S Muskogee Ave., Tahlequah, OK 74464.

The one-of-a-kind Cherokee Ancestry Conference provides participants with the tools to research their ancestry with Cherokee historical records and documents.

The Cherokee Ancestry Conference Friday keynote speaker will be Roy Hamilton, Cherokee Nation history course instructor and president of the Cherokee Arts and Humanities Council. Saturday’s keynote speaker will be Gene Norris, senior genealogist for the Cherokee National Historical Society Inc.  Several guest speakers will be featured, including Benjamin Chasenah, associate genealogist for the Cherokee National Historical Society Inc., and Ryan B. Mackey, language specialist for the Cherokee Nation Immersion Program.

Topics for discussion include an overview of the new Cherokee Nation History Course, Cherokee clans and family relationships, the resources of the Cherokee Family Research Center, what is needed to begin researching a Cherokee ancestor and the techniques on how to utilize the Internet for genealogy research in regards to Cherokee ancestry.

Conference attendees will each receive a free Cherokee Heritage Center tote. Each attendee is invited to a research session at the Cherokee Family Research Center in the Cherokee Heritage Center museum on Friday evening, where they will have an opportunity to meet the speakers. The conference will conclude Saturday with a question and answer session. Door prizes will be given between sessions.

Registration is $60 for Cherokee National Historical Society members and $75 for nonmembers. The deadline is June 8.

For more information, including accommodations and registration, please call (888) 999-6007, ext. 6159 or e-mail genealogy@cherokeeheritage.org.

The Cherokee Heritage Center is the premier cultural center for Cherokee tribal history, culture and the arts. For information on the 2013 season events, operating hours and programs, please contact the Cherokee Heritage Center at (888) 999-6007 or visit www.CherokeeHeritage.org. It can also be found on Facebook by searching “Cherokee Heritage Center.”

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41st Annual Trail of Tears Art Show and Sale “Call for Entries”

TAHLEQUAH, Okla., (January 26, 2012) — The Cherokee Heritage Center announced a “Call For Entries” on artwork submissions now through March 26 for the 41st Annual Trail of Tears Art Show and Sale set to run April 21 through May 20 featuring authentic Native American art in one of Oklahoma’s oldest art shows.

Complete artists’ guidelines and rules are posted at http://www.cherokeeheritage.org/for-artists/

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Cherokee Heritage Center partners with the Tulsa 66ers for Scout Night

TAHLEQUAH, Okla., (December 1, 2011) — The Tulsa 66ers are hosting Scout Night January 7th at the Tulsa Convention Center. The pregame activities will be provided by the Cherokee Heritage Center’s Outreach Program and will offer the scouts a hands on pottery experience. The first 100 scouts to sign up will receive a Tulsa 66ers patch and have a chance to show off their work during halftime. Tickets start at $8 for lower level seating and must be purchased by January 3rd, 2012. Go to WePay.com to get your tickets and Tulsa 66ers to learn more about Tulsa Professional Basketball Team.

Official Flyer Here (1MB)

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Cherokee Heritage Center announces the 40th Annual Trail of Tears Art Show winners
Troy Jackson wins the 2011 Grand Prize for ‘Putting The Pieces Together’ in the Pottery Category

TAHLEQUAH, Okla., (April 14, 2011) — The Cherokee Heritage Center announced the winners of the 40th Annual Trail of Tears Art Show during an awards celebration on Friday, April 8 at the Cherokee Heritage Center. The 2011 Grand Prize has been awarded to Troy Jackson, Cherokee, for “Putting The Pieces Together” in the pottery category.

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Cherokee Heritage Center to participate in Blue Star Museums
Cherokee Heritage Center is one of more than 1,300 museums across America to offer free admission to military personnel and their families this summer

TAHLEQUAH, Okla., (May 25, 2011) — Cherokee Heritage Center announced the launch of Blue Star Museums, a partnership with the National Endowment for the Arts, Blue Star Families, and more than 1,300 museums across America to offer free admission to all active duty military personnel and their families from Memorial Day through Labor Day 2011. Leadership support has been provided by MetLife Foundation through Blue Star Families. The complete list of participating museums is available at www.arts.gov/bluestarmuseums.

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