CHEROKEE NATIONAL HISTORICAL SOCIETY, INC.
The hopes and dreams of many Cherokee came to fruition in 1963-64 when Principal Chief W. W. Keeler and other Cherokee leaders organized and incorporated the Cherokee National Historical Society, with a mission of preserving and promoting Cherokee history and culture. The society leased the historic site of the original Cherokee National Female Seminary, at Park Hill, Oklahoma, and under the direction of Martin Hagerstrand created Tsa La Gi, now called the Cherokee Heritage Center.
The Heritage Center incorporates the Cherokee National Museum, with exhibits on national culture and history, and is the legal documentary depository for the Cherokee Nation. A construction period in the 1960s and 1970s resulted in the building of the museum as well as Tsa La Gi Ancient Village, reproducing a 1600s Cherokee town, Adams Corner, reproducing a turn-of-the-twentieth-century Cherokee village, and an outdoor amphitheater. The design of these elements was the work of Cherokee architect Charles "Chief" Boyd. By 2000 the Society had plans to construct a new facility to house the Cherokee National Archives.
In 2000 Cherokee Heritage Center served more than one hundred thousand people. Programming ranged from the Trail of Tears drama, presented in the amphitheater, to the museum's permanent display of a Trail of Tears exhibit. Shows have included a Trail of Tears Competitive Art Show held each spring, the annual Cherokee National Holiday and arts festival over Labor Day Weekend, and the Cherokee Homecoming Show in October. The Cherokee Heritage Center sponsors genealogical publications, marketing of traditional arts, particularly ceramic pieces, and customized tours of the contemporary Cherokee Nation. Educational offerings range from graduate fellowships to summer camp for children.
BIBLIOGRAPHY: "Cherokee National Historical Society," Vertical File, Library Resources Division, Oklahoma Historical Society, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. Earl Pierce Boyd and Rennard Strickland, The Cherokee People (Phoenix, Ariz.: Indian Tribal Series, 1974).
Mary Ellen Meredith
© Oklahoma Historical Society