Tahlequah, Oklahoma

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Tahlequah, Oklahoma

ᏓᎵᏆ (Cherokee)
Tahlequah, Oklahoma.jpg
Downtown Tahlequah
Motto(s): 
"City Of Firsts"
Cherokee County Oklahoma incorporated and unincorporated areas Tahlequah highlighted.svg
Location within Cherokee County and the state of Oklahoma
USA Oklahoma location map.svg
Red pog.svg
Tahlequah
Location in the United States
Usa edcp location map.svg
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Tahlequah
Tahlequah (the United States)
Coordinates: 35°54′46″N94°58′17″W / 35.91278°N 94.97139°W / 35.91278; -94.97139 Coordinates: 35°54′46″N94°58′17″W / 35.91278°N 94.97139°W / 35.91278; -94.97139
Country Flag of the United States.svg  United States
State Flag of Oklahoma.svg  Oklahoma
County Cherokee
Cherokee Nation founded 1838; second capital city
Government
  MayorSue Catron
Area
[1]
  Total12.45 sq mi (32.2 km2)
  Land12.45 sq mi (32.2 km2)
  Water0.0 sq mi (0.0 km2)
Elevation
797 ft (243 m)
Population
(2013) [2]
  Total16,359
  Density1,300/sq mi (510/km2)
Time zone UTC-6 (Central (CST))
  Summer (DST) UTC-5 (CDT)
ZIP codes
74464-74465
Area code(s) 539/918
FIPS code 40-72100 [2]
GNIS feature ID1098721 [3]
Website cityoftahlequah.com

Tahlequah ( /ˈtæləkwɑː/ TAL-ə-kwah; Cherokee: ᏓᎵᏆ) [4] is a city in Cherokee County, Oklahoma, United States located at the foothills of the Ozark Mountains. It is part of the Green Country region of Oklahoma and was established as a capital of the 19th-century Cherokee Nation in 1839, as part of the new settlement in Indian Territory after the Cherokee Native Americans were forced west from the American Southeast on the Trail of Tears.

Cherokee language Iroquoian language spoken by the Cherokee people

Cherokee is an endangered Iroquoian language and the native language of the Cherokee people. There are approximately 2,000 Cherokee speakers out of around 320,000 tribal members. The number of speakers is in decline. About 8 fluent speakers die each month, and only a handful of people under 40 are fluent. The dialect of Cherokee in Oklahoma is "definitely endangered", and the one in North Carolina is "severely endangered" according to UNESCO. The Lower dialect, formerly spoken on the South Carolina–Georgia border, has been extinct since about 1900. Cherokee speakers populate several counties within the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma and the Qualla Boundary in Cherokee, North Carolina. Around 200 speakers of the Eastern dialect remain and language preservation efforts include the New Kituwah Academy. An immersion grade school is also present in Tahlequah, Oklahoma.

Cherokee County, Oklahoma County in the United States

Cherokee County is a county located in the U.S. state of Oklahoma. As of the 2010 census, the population was 46,987. Its county seat is Tahlequah, which is also the capital of the Cherokee Nation.

Contents

The city's population was 15,753 at the 2010 census, an increase of 8.96 percent from 14,458 at the 2000 census. [5] The 2014 estimated population is 16,496. [6]

Tahlequah is the capital of the two federally recognized Cherokee tribes based in Oklahoma, the modern Cherokee Nation and the United Keetoowah Band of Cherokee Indians. Tahlequah is also the county seat of Cherokee County. [7] The main campus of Northeastern State University is located in the city.

Cherokee Nation Domestic dependent nation

The Cherokee Nation, also known as the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma, is the largest of three Cherokee federally recognized tribes in the United States. It was established in the 20th century and includes people descended from members of the Old Cherokee Nation who relocated from the Southeast due to increasing pressure to Indian Territory and Cherokee who were forced to relocate on the Trail of Tears. The tribe also includes descendants of Cherokee Freedmen and Natchez Nation. Over 299,862 people are enrolled in the Cherokee Nation, with 189,228 living within the state of Oklahoma. According to Larry Echo Hawk, former head of the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA), the current Cherokee Nation is not the historical Cherokee tribe but instead a "successor in interest".

United Keetoowah Band of Cherokee Indians

The United Keetoowah Band of Cherokee Indians in Oklahoma is a federally recognized tribe of Cherokee Native Americans headquartered in Tahlequah, Oklahoma. According to the UKB website, its members are mostly descendants of "Old Settlers" or "Western Cherokee," the Cherokee who migrated to present-day Arkansas and Oklahoma about 1817. Some reports estimate that Old Settlers began migrating west by 1800. This was before the forced relocation of Cherokee from the Southeast in the late 1830s under the Indian Removal Act. Although politically the UKB is not associated with the Trail of Tears, many of the membership have direct ancestors that completed the harrowing journey in 1838/1839.

A county seat is an administrative center, seat of government, or capital city of a county or civil parish. The term is used in Canada, China, Romania, Taiwan and the United States. County towns have a similar function in the United Kingdom and Republic of Ireland, and historically in Jamaica.

History

Etymology

Cherokee stop sign with Cherokee language transliteration and the Cherokee syllabary in Tahlequah, Oklahoma, with "alehwisdiha" (also spelled "halehwisda") meaning "stop" Cherokee stop sign.png
Cherokee stop sign with Cherokee language transliteration and the Cherokee syllabary in Tahlequah, Oklahoma, with "alehwisdiha" (also spelled "halehwisda") meaning "stop"
Cherokee traffic sign in Tahlequah, Oklahoma, reading "tla adi yigi", meaning "no parking" from "tla" meaning "no" Cwy no parking.jpg
Cherokee traffic sign in Tahlequah, Oklahoma, reading "tla adi yigi", meaning "no parking" from "tla" meaning "no"

Many linguists believe the word 'Tahlequah' (Tah-le-quah) and the word 'Teh-li-co' are the same as 'di li gwa', the Cherokee word for grain or rice. (See Cherokee Nation Lexicon (dikaneisdi) at cherokee.org under culture/language). Scholars report the Cherokee word 'di li gwa' describes a type of native grain with a red hue that grew in the flat open areas of east Tennessee. One area, Great Tellico (Tellico Plains, Tennessee), was named for the grass with the red seed tops. Others interpret a word 'tel-i-quah' as 'plains'; however, there is no word for 'plains' in the Cherokee lexicon, and the word 'tel-i-quah' is not found in the lexicon. The idea that 'tahlequah' means 'plains' lends weight to the belief that the name refers to the wide open grassy areas of Great Tellico.

Great Tellico

Great Tellico was a Cherokee town at the site of present-day Tellico Plains, Tennessee, where the Tellico River emerges from the Appalachian Mountains. Great Tellico was one of the largest Cherokee towns in the region, and had a sister town nearby named Chatuga. Its name in Cherokee is more properly written Talikwa. It is sometimes spelled Telliquo, Telliquah or, in Oklahoma, Tahlequah. There were several Cherokee settlements named Tellico, the largest of which is distinguished from the others by calling it "Great". The meaning of the word "Talikwa" is thought to be lost by the Cherokees. However, in an article authored by reporter Tesina Jackson of the Cherokee Phoenix the meaning of the word is stated as "the open place where the grass grows".

Tellico Plains, Tennessee Town in Tennessee, United States

Tellico Plains is a town in Monroe County, Tennessee, United States. The population was 859 at the 2000 census and 880 at the 2010 census.

Local legend states the name is derived from Cherokee words 'ta-li' and 'ye-li-quu' meaning 'just two' or 'two is enough'. Supposedly three tribal elders had planned to meet to determine the location of the Cherokee Nation's permanent capital. Two elders arrived and waited for the third. As dusk approached, they decided that 'two is enough', or 'ta-li-ye-li-quu' which later became anglicanized to Tahlequah. According to tribal elders and Cherokee County elders, this legend first began to circulate in the 1930s. Tahlequah was a settlement as early as 1832. After the Western Cherokee agreed in 1834 to let the newer migrants settle near them, they joined their government with the Eastern Cherokee at Tahlequah in 1839. Tahlequah was named long before it was chosen as the Cherokee capital.

Cherokee Nation capital

In 1839, Tahlequah was designated the capital of ancestors of both the Cherokee Nation and the United Keetoowah Band of Cherokee Indians. Initially the government buildings were a complex of log or framed structures. Most of these buildings were destroyed during the Civil War, during which the Cherokee became divided into two bitterly opposing sides.

After the war, a brick capitol was built and first occupied in 1870. In 1907, at the time of Oklahoma statehood, the building was converted into the Cherokee County courthouse. It was returned to the Cherokee Nation in 1970. [8]

Several markers of Cherokee and Native American heritage are found in town: street signs and business signs are noted in both the Cherokee language and English. Such signs use the syllabary created by Sequoyah, a Cherokee scholar of the 1820s who created the writing system.

The Cherokee syllabary is a syllabary invented by Sequoyah to write the Cherokee language in the late 1810s and early 1820s. His creation of the syllabary is particularly noteworthy as he could not previously read any script. He first experimented with logograms, but his system later developed into a syllabary. In his system, each symbol represents a syllable rather than a single phoneme; the 85 characters provide a suitable method to write Cherokee. Although some symbols resemble Latin, Greek, and Cyrillic letters, the relationship between symbols and sounds is different.

Sequoyah Cherokee polymath and creator of the Cherokee syllabary

Sequoyah (c.1770–1843), was an American and Cherokee polymath. In 1821 he completed his independent creation of a Cherokee syllabary, making reading and writing in Cherokee possible. This was one of the very few times in recorded history that a member of a pre-literate people created an original, effective writing system. After seeing its worth, the people of the Cherokee Nation rapidly began to use his syllabary and officially adopted it in 1825. Their literacy rate quickly surpassed that of surrounding European-American settlers.

The Cherokee Supreme Court Building, located in downtown Tahlequah and constructed in 1844, is the oldest public building in Oklahoma. [9]

Geography

Tahlequah is located at 35°54′55″N94°58′12″W / 35.91528°N 94.97000°W / 35.91528; -94.97000 (35.9153700, -94.9699560). [3] The city has a total area of 12.45 square miles (32.2 km²), all land. [1]

Climate data for Tahlequah 1981-2010, extremes 1900-2008
MonthJanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDecYear
Record high °F (°C)78
(26)
88
(31)
96
(36)
94
(34)
97
(36)
108
(42)
118
(48)
118
(48)
109
(43)
98
(37)
89
(32)
80
(27)
118
(48)
Average high °F (°C)49.0
(9.4)
54.0
(12.2)
63.4
(17.4)
72.1
(22.3)
78.5
(25.8)
85.5
(29.7)
90.8
(32.7)
91.5
(33.1)
83.5
(28.6)
73.0
(22.8)
61.4
(16.3)
50.2
(10.1)
71.1
(21.7)
Average low °F (°C)27.1
(−2.7)
31.5
(−0.3)
39.8
(4.3)
48.4
(9.1)
57.3
(14.1)
65.0
(18.3)
69.2
(20.7)
68.1
(20.1)
60.4
(15.8)
49.5
(9.7)
39.5
(4.2)
29.5
(−1.4)
48.8
(9.3)
Record low °F (°C)−23
(−31)
−13
(−25)
−10
(−23)
19
(−7)
30
(−1)
41
(5)
40
(4)
45
(7)
28
(−2)
16
(−9)
6
(−14)
−14
(−26)
−23
(−31)
Average precipitation inches (mm)2.58
(66)
2.65
(67)
4.10
(104)
4.03
(102)
6.26
(159)
5.20
(132)
4.40
(112)
3.87
(98)
5.14
(131)
4.61
(117)
4.30
(109)
3.09
(78)
50.23
(1,275)
Average snowfall inches (cm)2.1
(5.3)
1.9
(4.8)
1.0
(2.5)
0.0
(0.0)
0.0
(0.0)
0.0
(0.0)
0.0
(0.0)
0.0
(0.0)
0.0
(0.0)
0.0
(0.0)
0.2
(0.51)
0.9
(2.3)
6.1
(15.41)
Average precipitation days (≥ 0.01 in)66799866766682
Source: WRCC

http://www.wrcc.dri.edu/cgi-bin/cliMAIN.pl?ok8677

Demographics

Historical population
CensusPop.
1900 1,482
1910 2,89195.1%
1920 2,271−21.4%
1930 2,4959.9%
1940 3,02721.3%
1950 4,75056.9%
1960 5,84022.9%
1970 9,25458.5%
1980 9,7084.9%
1990 10,3987.1%
2000 14,45839.0%
2010 15,7539.0%
Est. 201516,598 [10] 5.4%
Sources:
2013 Estimate [2]
U.S. Decennial Census [5]

As of the 2010 census, [5] there were 15,753 people, 6,111 households, and 3,351 families residing in the city. The population density was 1,312.75 per square mile (506.5/km²). There were 6,857 housing units at an average density of 571.4 per square mile (220.5/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 53.8% White, 2.4% African American, 30.0% Native American, 1.3% Asian, 0.0% Pacific Islander, 3.7% from other races, and 8.7% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 9.8% of the population.

Out of 6,111 households, 25.9% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 35.5% were married couples living together, 14.3% had a female householder with no husband present, and 45.2% were non-families. 34.3% of all households were made up of individuals and 10.9% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.31 and the average family size was 2.99.

In the city, the population was spread out with 21.1% under the age of 18, 23.6% from 18 to 24, 24.3% from 25 to 44, 18.5% from 45 to 64, and 12.5% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 27.8 years. For every 100 females, there were 93.7 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 91.2 males.

As of 2013, the median household income was $29,114 and the median family income was $43,940. Males had a median income of $32,475 versus $27,939 for females. The per capita income for the city was $17,003. About 20.7% of families and 33.3% of the population were below the poverty line, including 43.2% of those under age 18 and 21.8% of those age 65 or over. [11]

Many people in Tahlequah speak Cherokee, and there is a Cherokee language immersion school in Tahlequah, Oklahoma, that educates students from pre-school through eighth grade with the Cherokee language as the medium of instruction, and no English. [12]

Education

Oklahoma Cherokee language immersion school student writing in the Cherokee syllabary. Cherokeeclass.png
Oklahoma Cherokee language immersion school student writing in the Cherokee syllabary.

Primary and secondary education

Education within the Tahlequah city limits consists of one early learning center serving students in Pre-K: Sequoyah; three elementary schools serving students in Kindergarten through 4th grade: Greenwood, Cherokee, and Heritage; one middle school with grades 5 through 8: Tahlequah Middle School; and one high school with grades 9-12: Tahlequah High School. Tahlequah High School serves as the main high school within the county as well and is fed by other rural Pre-K through 8th grade schools within Cherokee County.

Adams Corner Cherokee language chalk board in schoolhouse. Adams Corner - Schulhaus 3.jpg
Adams Corner Cherokee language chalk board in schoolhouse.

The Cherokee language immersion school in Tahlequah, Oklahoma educates students from pre-school through eighth grade. [12] Because Oklahoma's official language is English, Cherokee immersion students are hindered when taking state-mandated tests because they have little competence in English. [13] The Department of Education of Oklahoma said that in 2012 state tests: 11% of the school's sixth-graders showed proficiency in math, and 25% showed proficiency in reading; 31% of the seventh-graders showed proficiency in math, and 87% showed proficiency in reading; 50% of the eighth-graders showed proficiency in math, and 78% showed proficiency in reading. [13] The Oklahoma Department of Education listed the charter school as a Targeted Intervention school, meaning the school was identified as a low-performing school but has not been identified as a Priority School. [13] Ultimately, the school made a C, or a 2.33 grade point average on the state's A-F report card system. [13] The report card shows the school getting an F in mathematics achievement and mathematics growth, a C in social studies achievement, a D in reading achievement, and an A in reading growth and student attendance. [13] “The C we made is tremendous,” said school principal Holly Davis, “[t]here is no English instruction in our school’s younger grades, and we gave them this test in English.” [13] She said she had anticipated the low grade because it was the school's first year as a state-funded charter school, and many students had difficulty with English. [13] Eighth graders who graduate from the Tahlequah immersion school are fluent speakers of the language, and they usually go on to attend Sequoyah High School where classes are taught in both English and Cherokee.

Colleges

Tahlequah is home to Northeastern State University. Seminary Hall.jpg
Tahlequah is home to Northeastern State University.

Northeastern State University is the oldest institution of higher learning in the state of Oklahoma as well as one of the oldest institutions of higher learning west of the Mississippi River. [14] Tahlequah is home to the capital of the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma and about 25 percent of the students at NSU identify themselves as American Indian. [15] The university has many courses focused on Native American linguistics, and offers Cherokee language Education as a major. [16] Cherokee can be studied as a second language, and some classes are taught in Cherokee for first language speakers as well. [17]

Notable people

In media

Related Research Articles

Sequoyah County, Oklahoma County in the United States

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The Cherokee are a Native American tribe.

Northeastern State University university in Oklahoma, United States

Northeastern State University (NSU) is a public university with its main campus in Tahlequah, Oklahoma. The university also has two other campuses in Muskogee and Broken Arrow as well as online. Northeastern is the oldest institution of higher learning in the state of Oklahoma as well as one of the oldest institutions of higher learning west of the Mississippi River. Tahlequah is home to the capital of the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma and about 25 percent of the students at NSU identify themselves as American Indian. The university has many courses focused on Native American linguistics, and offers Cherokee language Education as a major. Cherokee can be studied as a second language, and some classes are taught in Cherokee for first language speakers as well.

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Keetoowah Nighthawk Society

The Keetoowah Nighthawk Society was a Cherokee Native American organisation formed ca. 1900 that pledged itself and its followers to return to the traditional "old ways" of Indian life, led by Redbird Smith, a Cherokee National Council and original Keetoowah Society member, and forming in the Indian Territories of present-day Oklahoma. The Nighthawks arose in response to weakening resolve on the part of Cherokee leaders—including the original Keetoowah Society, a political organization created by Cherokee Native American full bloods, in or about 1859—to continue their resistance on behalf of the Cherokee after the Dawes Commission began forcing the transfer of Oklahoma tribal lands in the Indian Territory to individual ownership in the 1890s. Soon after forming, the Keetoowah Nighthawk Society grew to as many as 5,500, but they could not forestall the progress of the Dawes Commission, which came to an allotment agreement with Cherokee leaders in 1900; after doing so, the Commission enrolled the generally non-compliant Nighthawks in the tribe without obtaining their consents, registering them for allotments, and, in 1902, arrested Redbird Smith and compelled the same of him.

Cherokee Heritage Center

The Cherokee Heritage Center is a non-profit historical society and museum campus that seeks to preserve the historical and cultural artifacts, language, and traditional crafts of the Cherokee. The Heritage center also hosts the central genealogy database and genealogy research center for the Cherokee People. The Heritage Center is located on the site of the mid-19th century Cherokee Seminary building in Park Hill, Oklahoma, a suburb of Tahlequah, and was constructed near the old structure. It is a unit of the Cherokee National Historical Society and is sponsored by the Cherokee Nation, the United Keetoowah Band of Cherokee Indians, and other area tribes. The center was originally known as Tsa-La-Gi but is now known as the Cherokee Heritage Center.

Sequoyah High School (Tahlequah, Oklahoma)

Sequoyah High School is a Native American boarding school serving students in grades 9–12, who are members of a federally recognized Native American tribe. The school is located in Tahlequah, Oklahoma, and is a Bureau of Indian Education grant school operated by the Cherokee Nation. Sequoyah Schools also has an elementary school grades pre-school through 8. Students in pre-school through grade 6 are taught through Cherokee language immersion and begin to transition to instruction in English in grade 5.

Cherokee Female Seminary

The Cherokee Female Seminary,, serves as the centerpiece of Northeastern State University, located in Tahlequah, Oklahoma, United States. The building was constructed to replace the original Cherokee Female Seminary that burnt to the ground Easter Sunday 1887. The Cherokee Council chose to rebuild the school on a 40-acre (160,000 m2) site north of Tahlequah, near Hendricks Spring. Two years later, on May 7, 1889, the dedication ceremonies were held in honor of the new building. The Female Seminary was owned and operated by the Cherokee Nation until March 6, 1909 when the State Legislature of Oklahoma passed an act providing for the creation and location of Northeastern State Normal School at Tahlequah, Oklahoma, and for the purchase from the Cherokee Tribal Government of the building, land, and equipment of the Cherokee Female Seminary. At the start of the next academic year, on September 14, the first classes were held at the newly created Northeastern State Normal School, now Northeastern State University.

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Native American politics remain divided over different issues such as assimilation, education, healthcare, and economic factors that affect reservations. As a nation living within the United States of America, the Native American people face conflicting opinions within their tribes, essentially those living on federally approved reservations. Interactions with the federal government and the overall American culture surrounding them influence day-to-day tribal life. Native American culture as a whole rests between the divide of the traditionalists and those who wish to trade the old ways for improved conditions.

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References

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  2. 1 2 3 "Census QuickFacts". United States Census Bureau. Archived from the original on 2014-12-27. Retrieved 2014-12-27.
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  4. Cowen, Agnes Spade and Jane B. Noble. Comptemporary Cherokee Language Book. Tahlequah, OK: Heritage Printing, 1996: 77
  5. 1 2 3 "Census of Population and Housing". United States Census Bureau . Retrieved 2014-12-27.
  6. "American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau . Retrieved July 16, 2015.
  7. "Find a County". National Association of Counties. Retrieved 2011-06-07.
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  9. Martindale, Robert. "Cherokee Nation places three historical buildings in trust", Tulsa World, 28 June 2003
  10. "Annual Estimates of the Resident Population for Incorporated Places: April 1, 2010 to July 1, 2015". Archived from the original on June 2, 2016. Retrieved July 2, 2016.
  11. "2009-2013 American Community Survey: Economic Characteristics". United States Census Bureau . Retrieved 2014-12-27.
  12. 1 2 Chavez, Will (April 5, 2012). "Immersion students win trophies at language fair". Cherokeephoenix.org. Retrieved April 8, 2013.
  13. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 "Cherokee Immersion School Strives to Save Tribal Language". Youth on Race. Archived from the original on July 3, 2014. Retrieved June 5, 2014.
  14. "General Information". NSU. Archived from the original on 2009-08-28. Retrieved 2008-02-20.
  15. Agnew, Brad. Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History and Culture. "Northeastern State University." "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2012-11-19. Retrieved 2016-01-08.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
  16. ' + auElement.html() + '. "NSU, Cherokee Nation Partner to Train and Hire Language Instructors - ICTMN.com". Indiancountrytodaymedianetwork.com. Retrieved 2015-07-17.
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