CN holds tours of Seminary Hall
9/7/2012 7:58:03 AM
ᏣᎳᎩ
 
Seminary Hall tour guide C.H. Parker stands in front of the Sequoyah statue at Northeastern State University in Tahlequah, Okla., while explaining the history of the Cherokee Nation and the Cherokee National Female Seminary. The Nation offers free tours of Seminary Hall every year during the Cherokee National Holiday. TESINA JACKSON/CHEROKEE PHOENIX
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Seminary Hall tour guide C.H. Parker stands in front of the Sequoyah statue at Northeastern State University in Tahlequah, Okla., while explaining the history of the Cherokee Nation and the Cherokee National Female Seminary. The Nation offers free tours of Seminary Hall every year during the Cherokee National Holiday. TESINA JACKSON/CHEROKEE PHOENIX
BY TESINA JACKSON Reporter TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – More than 120 years ago, the Cherokee Nation built a school of higher education for Native American students, a building that still stands today. The Cherokee National Female Seminary sits on the Northeastern State University campus, now called Seminary Hall, where thousands of students have classes each year. To help continue the history of the building, the CN offers free tours of Seminary Hall annually during the Cherokee National Holiday. “I find this very interesting work and I can tell that the people have an interest in it, and I’m glad to share that history with them,” C.H. Parker, Seminary Hall tour guide, said. “We’re very proud of it.” Parker started giving Seminary Hall tours during the holiday about 15 years ago. It was on May 7, 1889, when the female seminary reopened north of Tahlequah after fire destroyed it two years before. The first seminary opened in 1851 at Park Hill, only 12 years after the Cherokee people were removed from their homes in the southeastern United States to Indian Territory, now Oklahoma. There was also a male seminary, which burned down in 1910 and never rebuilt. The Cherokee National Female Seminary was the first higher learning institution for women west of the Mississippi. It continued until 1909 when the state purchased the building. Today, NSU has representatives from about 39 Native American tribes attending the university, which is the highest in the United States, Parker said. The tour starts outside in front of Seminary Hall where a statue of Sequoyah sits as Parker explains how Sequoyah created the Cherokee syllabary. He also explains the structure of Seminary Hall. “There were so many different things, but I liked looking at the artworks, the paintings here and looking at the Sequoyah statue and hearing the history of him about his work,” said Linda Reedy. Reedy, who has lived in Tahlequah for four years, took her first tour of Seminary Hall this year. The tour moves inside where several photos were displayed showing a history of families and students who attended the school. “I like to do it because I’m very surprised at the number of people that really don’t have an understanding of how the Cherokee got here,” Parker said. “They’ve heard of the Trail of Tears but did not know about life in the southeastern part of the country that was their original homelands and also to make aware of the high quality education that the girls received here, the boys at the male seminary received and that we continued that quality in the legacy of all the students we have graduating now. We have the same standards. We have a connection that goes back to 1845 when the original council said we want to build schools for higher education for Indian students.” Once inside those on the tour are guided through the first floor to a classroom where Parker explains the history of the Cherokees before and after the Trail of Tears, leading up to how the seminary was created. “I thought it was good that he gave a history of not just the building but of the Cherokee Nation,” Reedy said.

tesina-jackson@cherokee.org

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