CN Historic Registry Act to protect cultural sites in Oklahoma
The Saline Courthouse in Delaware County, a Cherokee Nation district courthouse built in the 1880s in Indian Territory, still stands today and has been restored under the CN Historic Registry Act, enacted by the tribe to preserve Cherokee historical sites. WILL CHAVEZ/CHEROKEE PHOENIX
The Pryor Creek Bridge in Chelsea could potentially be listed on the Cherokee Nation’s Historic Registry Act for preservation as it resides in the tribe’s jurisdiction and has historical significance to the town of Chelsea, built in 1926. LINDSEY BARK/CHEROKEE PHOENIX
The once active capital building of the Cherokee Nation has recently been restored as the Cherokee National History Museum and displays information regarding Cherokee history. Restored before the CN Historic Registry Act was in place, the building serves as an example of how the tribe plans to preserve other sites. LINDSEY BARK/CHEROKEE PHOENIX
TAHLEQUAH – The Cherokee Nation first announced the CN Historic Registry Act in November, fittingly inside one of the tribe’s oldest still standing landmarks, the Saline Courthouse in Delaware County.
The act provides a comprehensive framework to protect properties of historical significance to the tribe.
“It’s the first of its kind of piece of legislation at the Cherokee Nation and will promote awareness and preservation of Cherokee heritage and history for future generations,” Tribal Councilor Keith Austin said.
Various sites around northeast Oklahoma have been proposed for listing in the CN registry, according to the tribe’s Natural Resources.
“Our office is still evaluating many properties on the extensive list of potential sites to ensure they meet the criteria required for listing under the act,” Natural Resources Secretary Chad Harsha said. “Part of that process includes preparing narratives outlining the sites’ history and cultural significance to the Cherokee Nation.”
The Saline District Courthouse is one of the sites the CN is committed to preserving as it is the last remaining district courthouse built in Indian Territory in 1884. It has undergone restoration from Cherokee Nation Businesses with freshly painted walls, a new lighting system, a fire suppression system, a parking area and walkway and other modern conveniences.
When the courthouse was active in the 1880s, it saw court proceedings before all tribal court procedures were halted in 1898 by the Dawes Commission, according to research by historians Dan Littlefield and Fuller Bumpers.
“The records show this was a courthouse. This property also had general stores, a blacksmith shop and so forth,” Austin said. “In 1976, the United States recognized this as an important place by giving it the National Register of Historic Places designation. And we acquired the property again in 1988, and since then we have slowly reclaimed the glory of this property. It’s been a slow process of time, and we finally got the fire lit and it's done and it looks phenomenal.”
Harsha said in recent years, the tribe has completed substantial restoration work for sites across the CN, including the former capital building now turned Cherokee National History Museum, the Cherokee National Prison Museum, Cherokee Nation Supreme Court and Sequoyah’s Cabin.
“Most recently, the restoration work has been completed at the historic Saline Courthouse, which will soon open as a museum and cultural heritage site,” Harsha said.
During a March community meeting in Chelsea, Austin also listed several sites that could potentially be a part of the tribe’s restoration under the act such as the Pryor Creek Bridge, Chelsea Cemetery and Snyder Cemetery.
“The truth of the matter is we are in a race against time when it comes to protecting historic sites,” Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr. said. “But it’s a race that we have to engage in for the sake of our ancestors who did all of this and left us this, left this legacy. We have to do it for the sake of Cherokees today who need to know more about their culture, their history and where they came from. We need to do this.”
ᏓᎵᏆ – ᎾᏍᎩ ᏣᎳᎩ ᎠᏰᎵ ᎢᎬᏱ ᎤᏂᏁᏨ ᎠᎴ ᎤᏃᏪᎳᏅ ᏣᎳᎩ ᎠᏰᎵ ᏄᎵᏍᏔᏅ ᎧᏃᎮᏍᎩ ᏧᏃᏪᎶᏗ ᎤᏙᏢᏒᎢ ᏅᏓᏕᏫ ᏥᎧᎸᎢ, ᏅᏗᎦᎵᏍᏙᏗᏍᎬ ᏌᏊ ᏩᎦᏴᎵᏴ Ꮟ ᎠᏓᏁᎸ ᎤᏙᏪᎸᎢ, ᎾᎿ ᎠᎼᎯ ᏧᎾᏓᏱᎵᏓᏍᏗ ᎠᏉᏅᎩ ᏍᎦᏚᎩ.
ᎾᏍᎩ ᎯᎠ ᎤᎵᏍᎪᎸᏙ ᏧᏂᏍᏕᎸᏗ ᎠᏎᎸ ᎢᎪᎯᏓ ᏧᏂᏍᏕᎸᏗ ᏚᏙᏢᏒ ᎪᎯᎦ ᏄᎵᏍᏔᏅᏅᎢ ᎾᏍᎩ ᏅᏓᏳᏓᎴᏅᏓ ᎠᏂᎳᏍᏓᏢᎢ.
“ᎢᎬᏱᏃ ᎯᎠ ᎢᏳᏍᏗ ᏗᎧᎾᏩᏛᏍᏗ ᏗᏃᏢᏍᎩ ᏗᏂᎳᏫᎩ ᏂᏓᏳᏕᏓᎴᎯ ᏣᎳᎩ ᎠᏰᎵ ᎠᎴ ᎧᏁᏉᏍᏗ ᎠᏍᏎᏍᏙᏗ ᎠᎴ ᎠᎵᏏᏅᏙᏗ ᎠᏂᏣᎳᎩ ᏧᎾᏓᎴᏅᎯ ᎾᎿ ᎤᏩᎪᏗᏗᏒᎢ ᏥᏚᎾᏛᏏᏓ ᏗᏂᏲᏟ, “ᎠᏂᎳᏍᏓᏢ ᏗᎦᎳᏫᎦ Keith Austin ᎠᏗᏍᎬᎢ.
ᎢᎸᏍᎩ ᏚᏙᏢᏒ ᎾᏍᎩ ᎤᏴᏢᎦᎸᎬ ᎣᎦᎵᎰᎹ ᎤᏂᏔᏲᏢ ᏧᏃᏪᎶᏗ ᎾᎿ ᏣᎳᎩ ᎠᏰᎵ ᏗᎪᏪᎶᏗᎢ, ᏓᎾᏓᏙᎵᏤᎲ ᎠᏂᎳᏍᏓᏢ ᏂᎬᏩᏍᏛ ᎤᏅᏔᏂᏓᏍᏗ.
“ᏦᎩᎸᏫᏍᏓᏁᏗ Ꮟ ᏚᎾᎦᏎᏍᏗ ᎢᎸᏍᎩ ᏂᏚᏙᏢᏒ ᎾᎿ ᎤᏁᏉᏨᎢ ᏕᎪᏪᎸ ᎡᎵᏊ ᏚᏙᏢᏒ ᏙᎯᏳ ᎡᎵᏊ ᏂᎦᎵᏍᏗ ᎢᏳᏍᏗ ᎠᎴ ᎢᎦ ᏕᎪᏪᎸ ᎢᏳᎾᏛᏗ ᎪᏪᎸᎢ ᏂᎬᏩᏍᏛ ᎤᏅᏔᏂᏓᏍᏗ ᏗᎪᏪᎵᏍᎩ Chad Harsha ᎠᏗᏍᎬ. “ᎢᎦᏓ ᎾᏍᎩ ᎠᏱᎵᏒ ᎠᏠᏯᏍᏗ ᏗᏛᏅᏫᏍᏙᏗ ᏗᎪᏪᎵ ᎪᏪᎸ ᏗᎧᏃᎮᏍᎩ ᏚᏙᏢᏒ ᎠᎴ ᏄᎾᏛᏁᎵᏙᎸ ᎾᏍᎩᎾ ᏣᎳᎩ ᎠᏰᎵ.”
ᎠᎼᎯ ᏍᎦᏚᎩ ᏧᎾᏓᏱᎵᏓᏍᏗ ᎾᏍᎩ ᏌᏊ ᎨᏒ ᏣᎳᎩ ᎠᏰᎵ ᎤᎾᏚᏓᎵ ᎣᏍᏓ ᎢᏳᏅᏗ ᎾᏍᎩ ᎤᏩᏌ Ꮟ ᎠᏓᏁᎸ ᎾᎿ ᏗᏍᎦᏚᎩ ᏧᎾᏓᏱᎵᏓᏍᏗ ᏚᎾᏁᏍᎨᎮᎢ ᎾᎿ Ꮟ ᎠᏂᏴᏫᏯ ᎢᎬᎾᏕᎾ ᎤᏁᏓᏍᏗ ᏥᎨᏎᎢ 1884. ᎤᏓᎴᏅᏃ ᎣᏍᏓ ᎾᏅᏁᎲ ᏂᏓᏳᏓᎴᏅ ᏣᎳᎩ ᎠᏰᎵ ᏧᏂᎸᏫᏍᏓᏁᏗᎢ ᎩᎳ ᏧᏂᏑᏫᏓ ᏬᎵ, ᎢᏤ ᏗᏨᏍᏙᏗ, ᎠᏥᎳ ᎠᎭᎷᎩᏍᎩ ᏄᏅᏔᏁ, ᏗᎦᏚᎴᏂ ᏧᏂᏗᎢ ᎠᎴ ᎡᎳᏓ ᎤᏓᏍᏗᎢ ᎤᏩᎾᏕᏍᎩ ᎠᎴ ᎤᎪᏓ ᏧᏓᎴᏅᏓ ᎣᏍᏓ ᏄᏅᏁᎴᎢ. ᎾᎯᏳᏃ ᏧᎾᏓᏱᎵᏓᏍᏗ ᎠᏍᏚᎢᏓ ᏥᎨᏎ ᎾᎿ 1880s, ᎤᎪᎭ ᏓᎾᏓᏱᎵᏙᎲ Ꮟ Ꮎ ᏂᎦᏓ ᎠᏂᎳᏍᏓᏢ ᏧᎾᏓᏱᎵᏓᏍᏗ ᏙᎢ ᏥᎾᏚᏅᏁᎴ 1898 ᏂᏓᏳᏓᎴᏅ ᏙᏒ ᎠᏂᎧᎻᏏᏂ ᎤᏂᏍᏚᏁ ᎤᏂᎪᎵᏰᎢᏙᎸ ᎤᏂᏃᎮᏓ Dan Littlefield ᎠᎴ Fuller Bumpers.
ᏧᏪᏘ ᎪᏪᎳ ᏕᎦᏅ ᎬᏂᎨᏒ ᏂᎬᏁ ᎯᎠ ᎠᏓᏁᎸ ᏧᎾᏓᏱᎵᏓᏍᏗ ᎨᏎᎢ. ᎯᎠ ᎦᏙ ᎠᎲ ᎪᎯᎦ ᏧᎨᏒ ᎾᏍᏊ ᏓᏓᎾᏁᎢ, ᎦᏅᏩᎶᏍᏗ ᎤᏃᏢᏎ ᎠᎴ ᏧᏓᎴᏅᏓ ᏄᏍᏗᏓᏁᎢ. ᎠᏗᏍᎬ Austin. “ᎾᏍᎩ 1976 ᏥᎨᏒ ᎠᎹᏰᏟ ᎤᏕᎶᎰᏒ ᎯᎠ ᎤᎵᏍᎨᏓ ᎨᏒ ᎤᏙᏢᏒ ᎠᏁᏗ ᎾᎿ ᎬᎾᏕᎾ ᏗᏃᏪᎵᏍᎩ ᏧᏪᏘ ᏧᎵᏍᎨᏓ ᏓᏓᏁᎸ ᎠᎴ ᏚᏙᏢᏒᎢ. ᎠᎴ ᎣᎩᎩᏒ ᎾᏍᎩ ᎦᏙ 1988, ᎾᎯᏳ ᏂᏓᎬᏩᎴᏅᏓ ᏙᎢ ᎠᏱᎸᏓ ᎤᎵᎮᎵᏍᏗ ᎣᎩᎩᏌ ᎯᎠ ᎦᏙᎯ. ᎢᎦ ᏙᎢ ᎠᏂᎩᏓ, ᎠᎴ ᎣᎪᏔᎾ ᏃᏊ ᎠᎴ ᏄᎵᏍᏔᎾ ᎢᎦ ᎣᏍᏓ ᏗᎧᎾᏂᏓᏍᏗᎢ.”
Harsha ᎠᏗᏍᎬ ᏝᎦᏊ ᎯᎠ ᏧᏕᏘᏴᏌᏓ ᎠᏂᎳᏍᏓᏢ ᎤᏂᏍᏆᏓ ᎤᎪᏓ ᏃᎴᏍᏊ ᏗᎬᎾᏩᏗᏫᏍᏗ ᏣᎳᎩ ᎠᏰᎵ ᎠᏠᏯᏍᏗ ᎾᎿ ᏄᎬᏫᏳᏒ ᏣᏓᏁᎸ ᏗᎦᏚᎲ ᎠᏰᏟ ᏃᏊ ᎤᏂᏁᏟᏴᏓ ᏣᎳᎩ ᎬᎾᏕᎾ ᎧᏃᎮᏢᏍᎦ ᎤᏂᏍᏆᏂᎪᏙᏗᎢ, ᏣᎳᎩ ᎬᎾᏕᎾ ᏧᎾᏓᏍᏚᏗ ᏄᎵᏍᏔᏅᏅ ᎧᏃᎮᏍᎩ ᎤᏂᏍᏆᏂᎪᏗᏓᏂ, ᏣᎳᎩ ᎠᏰᎵ ᏩᎦᎸᎳᏗᏴ ᏧᎾᏓᏱᎵᏓᏍᏗ ᎤᏪᏘ ᎤᏂᏍᏆᏂᎪᏗᏓᏁᏍᏗ ᎠᎴ ᏏᏉᏯ ᎤᏁᎳᏛᎢ.
ᎾᏝᎬᏊ ᏥᎨᏒ ᎣᏍᏓ ᎾᏅᏁᎲ ᎤᏂᏍᏆᏓ ᎤᏪᏘ ᎠᎼᎯ ᏧᎾᏓᏱᎵᏓᏍᏗᎢ, ᎾᏍᎩ ᎾᏝᎬᎢ ᏛᎵᏍᏚᎢᏏ ᎾᏍᎩᏃ ᎤᏪᏘ ᎤᏍᏆᏂᎪᏗ ᎤᏂᏍᏆᏂᎪᏗᏓᏁᏍᏗ ᎠᎴ ᏄᎾᏛᏁᎵᏙᎸ ᏃᎴ ᏧᎾᏓᎴᏅᎢ ᎧᎮᏍᎩ ᎨᏎᏍᏗ,”ᎠᏗᏍᎬ Harsha.
ᎾᏍᎩ ᎠᏅᏱ ᏥᎧᎸ ᎠᏂᎧᎻᏗ ᏚᎾᏠᏒ ᎾᎿ Chelsa, Austin ᎾᏍᎩ ᎾᏍᏊ ᏚᏬᏪᎳᏅ ᎢᎸᏍᎩ ᏚᏙᏢᏒ ᎾᏍᎩ ᎡᎵᏊ ᎣᏍᏓ ᎢᏗᎬᏩᏅᏗ ᎨᏒ ᎠᏂᎾᎵᏍᏓᏢ ᎣᏍᏓ ᎢᏗᏅᏁᎯ ᎭᏫᎾᏗᏝ ᎾᎾᏛᏁᎲᎢ ᏯᏛᎾ ᎧᏩᏲ ᎤᏪᏴ ᎠᏒᏢ, Chelsa ᏧᎾᏓᏂᏐᏗᎢ ᎠᎴ Synder ᏧᎾᏓᏂᏐᏗᎢ ᎾᏍᏊ.
ᏚᏳᎪᏛ ᏱᎧᏃᎮᏟ ᎣᏣᏙᎩᏯ ᏅᏗᎦᎵᏍᏙᏗ ᏝᎦᏊ ᎤᏠᏅᏙ ᎤᏂᏢᏗ ᎪᏪᎵ ᎠᏔᏲᎯᎯ ᎣᏍᏓ ᎢᏗᎨᏅᏁᏗ ᎾᏍᎩᎾ ᏗᎵᏏᏅᏙᏗ ᏧᏪᏘ ᎤᏍᏆᏂᎪᏓ ᏄᎵᏍᏔᏅᏅ ᏓᏓᏁᎸᎢ,” ᎠᏗᏍᎬ ᎤᎬᏫᏳᎯ Chuck Hoskin Jr.. “ᎠᏎᏅ ᎾᏍᎩ ᎢᏓᏙᎩᏯ ᏅᏗᎦᎵᏍᏙᏗ ᎪᎱᏍᏗ ᏗᎬᎾ ᏂᎦᏓ ᎾᎿ ᏄᎾᏛᏁᎸ ᎯᎠ ᎠᎴ ᎤᏂᎯᏯ, ᎯᎠ ᏂᏧᎵᏍᏔᏅᏍᏔᏅᎢ. ᎠᏎᏃ ᎢᎦᏓᏛᏗ ᎢᏗᏓᏛᏁᏗ ᎠᏂᏣᎳᎩ ᎪᎯ ᏣᏁᎯ ᎾᏍᎩᎾ ᎤᎪᏛ ᎢᎦᏕᎶᏆᏍᏗ ᏂᏧᎾᏛᏁᎸᏍᏔᏅ ᎧᏃᎮᏍᎩ ᎠᎴ ᎾᎿ ᏧᏂᎶᏒᎢ. ᎤᏚᎵᏗ ᎯᎠ ᎢᎦᏛᏗᎢ.