Cherokee Nation Restores its Supreme Court
By Margaret Foster | Online Only | Apr. 29, 2009
The Cherokee Nation wants tourists to visit Tahlequah, Okla., the city its people established at the end of the Trail of Tears in northeastern Oklahoma.
To that end, the Cherokee Nation's tourism department is restoring four sites, starting with the state's oldest municipal building, the Cherokee Nation Supreme Court, built in 1844 and vacant since 1994.
"It was uninhabitable," says Heather Williams, senior project manager for the nation's Cultural and Tourism Department. "We had to do some immediate stabilization and go straight into the restoration process," adds Steve Rush, marketing operations manager.
Exterior restoration work, expected to cost $350,000, began last November and will be completed in June. Once the interior has been renovated, the building will reopen as a museum. The collection will include an original printing press from the Cherokee Advocate, the state's oldest newspaper, which was published in the building.
The nation also plans to restore three more important sites: the Cherokee National Capitol Building, the Cherokee National Jail, and Ross Cemetery, where workers have already started to repair fences.
“The Supreme Court building is extremely important in Cherokee history, so it made sense to start with that,” says Molly Jarvis, vice president of marketing for the Cherokee Nation. “This [restoration] is part of a very long-term plan for the Cherokee Nation to preserve our history. We're starting with downtown Tahlequah.”
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