TAHLEQUAH -- The Cherokee Nation and Cherokee Nation Businesses' Cultural Tourism on Aug. 8 celebrated its newest addition of tourism offerings with the opening of the Cherokee National History Museum, located downtown within the former Cherokee National Capitol Building.
"Cherokee Nation has invested in the historic preservation of the building and many others that now help share our story with Cherokees and visitors alike. The investment made preparing this site to be used as a museum was about $4.5 million, which includes exhibits," Travis Owens, CNB Cultural Tourism director, said.
The museum shares the CN history and culture in 4,000 square feet of permanent exhibit space featuring the Cherokee lifestyle from pre-European contact to the forced removal and the tribe's revitalization after the American Civil War.
There is also 1,000 square feet of rotating gallery space, initially exhibiting a tribute to the achievements and contributions of Cherokee artist Cecil Dick, which runs until Jan. 31.
Other features are a gift shop; displayed artifacts on loan from the Smithsonian Institute, Gilcrease Museum, Oklahoma Historical Society and the Cherokee National Archives; and pieces commissioned by Cherokee artists and Cherokee National Treasures to reside in the museum. For example, Cherokee National Treasure Lisa Rutherford created a twined skirt and a one-shoulder feather cape for the "Beloved Woman" display.
Technology plays a big role in which several exhibits offer an "interactive augmented reality" through the use of iPads, according to a CNB press release.
"The Cherokee National History Museum is the culmination of years of thoughtful planning and careful execution in effort to provide an engaging experience that allows visitors to immerse themselves in Cherokee history, culture and art," Molly Jarvis, CNB Cultural Tourism senior vice president, said.
Principal Chief Bill John Baker said he remembers growing up in and around the building's grounds from the time his grandfather owned a barbershop across the street.
"It's been the most iconic photo'd building in Cherokee Nation. But now the inside tells our story from the trail all the way to present day. All the elected officials take an oath of office that we will protect and promote the culture, the heritage and the history of our Cherokee people. And this truly represents the modern democracy that we have after the removal," Baker said.
Built in 1869 as the Cherokee National Capitol Building, it housed the tribe's executive, legislative and judicial offices until 1906, and recently served as CN Supreme Court until 2018. The building is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and is designated as a national landmark.
The museum is at 101 S. Muskogee Ave. and is open to visitors from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday. Admission is $8 for adults, $6 for seniors and students and free for ages 5 and under.
For information visit www.visitcherokeenation.com.