Video: Tribe dedicates Cherokee National Supreme Court Museum
4/14/2010 7:01:51 AM
Media Image Video
 
Principal Chief Chad Smith addresses attendants of the tribe’s dedication of
the Cherokee National Supreme Court Museum on April 7 in Tahlequah, Okla. (Photo by Will Chavez)
Principal Chief Chad Smith addresses attendants of the tribe’s dedication of the Cherokee National Supreme Court Museum on April 7 in Tahlequah, Okla. (Photo by Will Chavez)
By Christina Good Voice Staff Writer TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – More than 100 people attended the Cherokee Nation’s April 7 dedication of the Cherokee National Supreme Court Museum after several months of renovations to the historic brick building. “Originally built in 1844, (we) completely restored it to act as a museum,” Travis Owens, senior project manager for Cherokee Nation Cultural Tourism, said. “Right now, we’re here outside the museum for our grand opening to invite the public out to see the museum for the first time.” The courthouse was built in 1844 on the town square’s southeastern corner by James S. Pierce to house the tribe’s Supreme Court. However, both the Supreme and District courts held sessions there. The structure also housed the printing press of the Cherokee Advocate, which was the CN’s official publication and the first newspaper in Oklahoma. According to Cultural Tourism’s Web site, the Supreme Court Museum is the oldest government building in the state. “There are three themes in this museum. The first theme is about Cherokee Nation government,” Owens said. “Our government exercises sovereignty by utilizing our court system. The second theme is the Cherokee papers – the Advocate and the Cherokee Phoenix papers. The Advocate was printed here for quite some time.” He said the third theme centers around the Cherokee language and how it is being preserved and used within the Cherokee Phoenix, CN institutions and the CN immersion program. The museum also includes a gift shop with items for sale that are related to Cherokee history and culture such as art, basketry and books. The museum is open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Tuesday through Saturday. Admission prices are $5 for adults, $3 for seniors and students and children under 5 are free. A group rate is available at $3 per person for 10 or more individuals. Principal Chief Chad Smith said the dedication was a way to acknowledge the value of memorials and monuments. “Monuments are symbols that remind us,” he said. “In this instance they remind us of our past and our two great passions, self-governance and education.” Smith said the historic building was the first building the tribe built after the infamous Trail of Tears. “This showed that passion and self-governance was real and viable and enduring,” he said. “Today we stand in its shadow, having survived episode after episode of trial and tribulation, still a sovereign nation.” Oklahoma Historical Society Executive Director Dr. Bob Blackburn, who attended the dedication, said the building represents the Cherokee people’s resiliency to survive and prosper. “It’s appropriate we’re here today to celebrate Cherokee history, the sprit of Oklahoma and what makes Oklahoma unique,” he said. “The fact that this building was built at all is significant because that represents the spirit of self-determination, a commitment to the rule of law and establishing a sense of law in society that goes all the way back to clan law among the Cherokees.” Owens said the significance of the museum is not only for Cherokee people, but all people to understand what the Cherokee Nation is and what it stands for. “(For them) to recognize that we were a government that exercised our sovereignty and that we used tools like our paper, printing of our Cherokee Advocate to get our message out to the Cherokee people,” Owens said. “We want everyone to come out to see the museum to get a good grasp on Cherokee history by seeing the exhibits we have displayed inside.” Reach Staff Writer Christina Good Voice at (918) 207-3825 or christina-goodvoice@cherokee.org.
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