CHC to present J.B. Milam exhibition

BY STAFF REPORTS
10/04/2012 09:35 AM
PARK HILL, Okla. – The Cherokee Heritage Center will present the J.B. Milam exhibition from Oct. 15 through Dec. 31 to honor the legacy of the former Cherokee Nation principal chief, businessman and father.

Jesse Bartley Milam, commonly known as J.B., served as principal chief from 1941 to his passing in 1949. Milam is one of eight chiefs appointed by the president of the United States. These “principal chiefs,” many holding the title for only a day, signed documents and performed other pro forma (pure formality) duties as required by the federal government.

Milam was born in Texas in 1884 to William Guinn Milam and Sara Ellen Couch, who was a member of the Long Hair Clan. In 1887, the Milam family moved to the CN in Indian Territory where they farmed and ranched. The family later moved to Chelsea in what is now Rogers County, in 1893, where William opened a hardware store.

Jesse was educated at the Cherokee Male Seminary and then the Metropolitan Business College in Dallas. When he returned home, he went to work for the Bank of Chelsea where his father was vice president. He married Elizabeth Peach McSpadden in 1904. Four years later, he, his brother James and his father bought the controlling interest in the Bank of Chelsea. Jesse became bank president in 1915.

In 1947, along with a goal of restoring the tribal government, Milam had goals of preserving Cherokee heritage and pursuing Cherokee claims. He actively researched Cherokee history and culture and legal issues affecting the tribe. He also was involved in cultural, historical and ceremonial activities.

In the 1920s, Milam underwrote the expenses of writer Emmet Starr who wrote several books on the Cherokee, including the “Early History of the Cherokees.” Milam also did extensive research on the life of Sequoyah and financed an expedition into Mexico to find Sequoyah’s burial place.

He located the original mold for the Cherokee syllabary and began working to get the print type made again with a goal of publishing materials in the syllabary. He also pursued the establishment of Cherokee language classes in area schools and universities.

On May 8, 1949, at 65 years old, he died in Kansas City, Mo. Many of the goals Milam had pursued for the tribe as principal chief went unfinished, but some were picked up by later chiefs and completed.

The Milam exhibition will be shown from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Saturday. Admission is $8.50 per adult (19 and older), $7.50 per senior (55 and older) and college students with proper identification, $5 per child (5-18 years old) and free per child (4 and under) with paid adult. Admission price includes all attractions. Entry to the grounds and museum store are free.

The show features 113 traditional and contemporary Cherokee artworks.

For more information, call 1-888-999-6007 or email info@cherokeeheritage.org or visit www.cherokeeheritage.org.

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