Cherokee History in Oklahoma

Cherokee history in Oklahoma goes back a long way, with the state having played a central roll in the development of this Native American tribe. When the US government began the practice of tribal relocation in 1831, Native American groups were moved from their homelands to what was then known as Indian Territory, and to what is today called Oklahoma. Cherokee history in Oklahoma is rich and complicated, and visitors to the state can visit a range of associated attractions, such as the Trail of Tears National Historic Trail, and the Cherokee Heritage Center.

The Trail of Tears National Historic Trail is of paramount importance to Cherokee history in Oklahoma. It refers to the exhausting trip 15,000 Cherokees were forced into when relocated from their homelands on the east coast of the United States. A staggering 4,000 of those who set off died during the 1,000-mile journey from a combination of illness, lack of food, and exposure to the brutal elements taking their fatal toll. As such, the Trail of Tears National Historic Trail makes for a harrowing visit-walking along the scenic stretches of the trail, it can be hard to imagine the hardship and persecution faced by those who initially covered the land.

For those wishing to learn more about the plight of the Cherokee's walking the Trail, and general Cherokee history in Oklahoma, the excellent Cherokee Heritage Center provides an in-depth look into the life and times of the tribe, featuring replica exhibits and daily demonstrations. The Center is built in the old Cherokee community of Park Hill. Particular attractions here include the Cherokee National Museum, with its interpretation of the Trail of Tears, and the ancient village, where visitors can learn more about daily village life, including demonstrations on flintknapping, the dugout canoe, and-every kid's favorite—the blowgun. The Cherokee Heritage Center also holds events such as the Cherokee games throughout the year, except in January when the Center closes for a holiday.

There are many other things to do related to Cherokee History in Oklahoma in the city of Tahlequah, which was the Cherokee's initial resting point once the Trail of Tears came to an end. The Cherokee Nation Courthouse, for example, can be seen here, which is the head of the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma. Membership of the Cherokee Nation depends on ancestry; you must have at least one ancestor listed on the Dawes Roll, though blood quantum is not a factor. Close by to the Courthouse, two more small but enchanting buildings are well worth a visit: the decorative house of Dr. J.M. Thompsons, who was a health officer for the Cherokees, and the well-stocked Carnegie library, which was built back in the nineteenth century after a grant from the famed philanthropist Andrew Carnegie.

Tahlequah is a fairly small place, and there are plenty of cheap Oklahoma hotels dotted around its outskirts. With its rich Native American heritage and pleasant-on-the-eye nature, Tahlequah rewards both short stopovers and longer prolonged stays.

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