TAHLEQUAH, OK --- Cherokee Nation is looking to display and share the history of the Cherokee National Prison through words, sights and sounds. The historical materials will be showcased for viewing when the Cherokee National Prison Museum opens Summer 2011, following complete historic preservation of the facility.
The Cherokee Nation Cultural Tourism Group is calling out to all individuals to loan or donate items associated with the Cherokee National Prison. Whether it’s sharing a family story or providing documents that are important to the history of the prison, the Cherokee Nation Cultural Tourism Group is looking to develop an authentic and extensive prison museum archive. The accounts may be handwritten, typed, or recorded by audio or video. The group is also seeking photos and illustrations from the period and documents detailing prison administrative activities. Any historical items such as prison uniforms or items pertaining to Cherokee outlaws or lawmen are also being sought for display.
The Cherokee National Prison Museum will allow visitors to experience the history of crime and punishment in the Cherokee Nation as well as reliving the infamous Cherokee outlaw stories.
“The primary goal of the museum is to feature an interpretative area that is heavy in storytelling by individuals and through documents,” said Molly Jarvis, Vice President of Cultural and Public Relations at Cherokee Nation Entertainment, which manages the Cherokee Nation Cultural Tourism Group. “This presentation style will provide guests with a living history experience beyond their expectations. The pieces on loan or donated to the museum will assist us to achieve this unique viewpoint.”
Originally completed in 1875, the prison was the first and only correctional facility in Indian Territory until 1901. The building is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
The overall project includes the restoration of the prison structure and the creation of an outside and inside interpretative area that will include a museum, a blacksmith shop and gallows.
The restoration began on May 6, 2010, and is taking place in two phases beginning with controlling moisture problems through the foundation, basement and walls. The interior restoration will preserve as much historic fabric as possible, while preparing the structure for the interpretive center. The second phase will have an emphasis on landscaping, fencing and parking among other projects.
Once opened, the Cherokee National Prison Museum, located at Choctaw St. and Water Ave., Tahlequah, OK 74464, will be the second Cherokee Nation wholly owned and operated museum following the recent dedication of the Cherokee National Supreme Court Museum.
All historical materials permanently donated or provided on loan to the Cherokee National Prison Museum will be cataloged and processed following museum standard guidelines. Each piece will have the benefactor’s name posted near the respective display in recognition of the generous donation and commitment to the preservation efforts of Cherokee Nation history.
About Cherokee Nation
The Cherokee Nation is the sovereign operating government of the Cherokee people. It is a federally recognized tribe of more than 290,000 Cherokee citizens, with its capitol located in Tahlequah, Oklahoma. Employing more than 8,000 people, Cherokee Nation’s annual economic impact in Oklahoma and surrounding areas is more than $1 billion. To learn more, please visit http://www.cherokee.org.