“Native American Heritage month is the perfect opportunity to open our museum doors to the public and invite everyone to experience authentic Native American history and culture,” said Bill John Baker, Principal Chief of the Cherokee Nation. “The three wholly owned and operated Cherokee Nation museums have an abundance of genuine artifacts that bring to life the true Cherokee experience.”
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 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.
Cherokee Nation Museums are open Tuesday through Saturday 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
For information on Cherokee Nation Cultural Tourism, including museum operations, please call (877) 779-6977 or visit CherokeeTourismOK.com.