Webbers Falls displays street signs in Cherokee language
Street signs in Webbers Falls display the street names in the Cherokee syllabary. The project comes after City Councilor Danny Haley said he was inspired by downtown Tahlequah’s street signs that also have the syllabary. LINDSEY BARK/CHEROKEE PHOENIX
Webbers Falls Museum curators George and Linda Miller, both left, and City Councilor Danny Haley, shown with his wife Janet, are responsible for helping Webbers Falls obtain and install street signs in the Cherokee language to reflect the town’s history of Cherokee heritage. LINDSEY BARK/CHEROKEE PHOENIX
WEBBERS FALLS – After a year in the making, the town of Webbers Falls is now displaying street signs that have been translated into the Cherokee language.
City Councilor Danny Haley said he got the idea after visiting Tahlequah and seeing its downtown street signage.
“The (city) council was 100 percent behind it. They thought it was a super idea if we could do it within our budget. Once we started installing them, people wanted to know why we didn’t do the stop signs. Now we have 20-something stop signs ordered for the main intersections with Cherokee on them,” Haley said.
He said city officials also have a city hall sign with the Cherokee language in the works.
Webbers Falls Museum Curator Linda Miller said she helped obtain the information for the Cherokee-translated street signs.
“I contacted John Ross, official interpreter over at Cherokee Nation, and I asked him if he would be willing to assist us because we wanted them (signs) to be perfect. We didn’t want any errors in the Cherokee language. He was so kind and so good and he said sure. So he gave his time to me, and we just went back and forth, back and forth, constantly. It took a long time,” Miller said.
She said the process took about a year from the time the City Council voted to when the signs were installed and that officials worked hard to ensure all the signs had the correct spellings and syllabary.
Haley also said some intersections that never previously had signs are getting them and that the town’s old signs are being sold out of the museum as a fundraiser.
“Everyone that wanted the signs, everyone was for them. They wanted to embrace the history of the Cherokee Nation that’s here. There’s a lot of history here,” he said. “When a stranger asks me what the foreign language is on our signs, I say English.”
Most of the Cherokee history can be found in the museum with information on how the town was settled.
Miller said Webbers Falls has a long history of Cherokee heritage after being one of the landing sights for Cherokee Old Settlers and those who came on the Trail of Tears in the 1830s. The town is named after Chief Walter Webber, who was an Old Settler that came in 1827. The town resides on the south side of the Arkansas River’s edge.
Tribal Councilor E.O. Smith, who grew up around Webbers Falls, said he thinks it’s a “great” idea what the town is doing to embrace the Cherokee heritage.
“I just think it’s great that we keep on doing things for our history and our people, and I think there will be a lot of people when they come to museum they’ll see all the signs that keep our heritage going,” he said.
For more information, call the Webbers Falls Museum at 918-464-2728 or 918-348-9249.