Cherokee Nation to Receive Prestigious Award for Outstanding Stewardship of Historic Sites in Oklahoma

November 17, 2017

Tribe recognized for excellent historic and cultural preservation work and promotion

Chicago, IL. — The National Trust for Historic Preservation will present the Trustees Emeritus Award for Excellence in the Stewardship of Historic Sites to Cherokee Nation. The tribe is one of eight award winners to be honored by the National Trust during its 2017 PastForward National Preservation Conference this week in Chicago.

Cherokee Nation is being recognized for their careful stewardship of several properties vital to their history and culture as well as for their contributions to the preservation of state-owned resources within the Nation. For example, the 1844 building that housed their National Supreme Court, the 1875 National Prison and the 1869 National Capitol were all in need of repair and restoration. Today, Cherokee Nation has completed or is in the process of completing repair work that returns each of these historic properties to their period of historical significance and opens them to the public.

“We are pleased to receive this award from the National Trust in recognition of our passion and efforts in historic preservation. Historic preservation for the Cherokee Nation means safeguarding our heritage and culture,” said Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Bill John Baker. “It is a responsibility that we all collectively share and a priceless investment we are making for future generations. We’re committed to preserving these sites and are thankful for the opportunity to proactively share our story with the world.”

When state budget cuts in 2010 threatened the Oklahoma Historical Society’s (OHS) ability to care for state-owned historic resources, Cherokee Nation stepped forward with a $50,000 annual contribution to maintain operations at three OHS historic sites within the boundaries of the Nation and arranged to bring tour groups there for special programming opportunities. When the perilous budget situation persisted, Cherokee Nation worked with leadership at OHS to secure legislation making it possible for the state to transfer titles to historical properties to entities willing and able to ensure their long-term preservation and public availability. This enabled the Nation to acquire Sequoyah’s Cabin, the home of the individual who created the Cherokee syllabary, thus making it possible for Cherokee citizens to read and write in their own language. Cherokee Nation has since expanded programming there by installing new exhibits and selling hand-crafted items in the gift shop.

“Through their careful preservation of iconic historic properties, their financial support to the state’s historical society during tough economic times, and their programming and promotion of those sites, Cherokee Nation’s passion for cultural heritage is obvious,” said Stephanie Meeks, president and CEO of the National Trust for Historic Preservation. “We commend them for their visionary stewardship and skilled leadership in ensuring that places that tell the story of Cherokee Nation and the history of our country may be experienced for generations to come."

The National Preservation Awards are bestowed on distinguished individuals, nonprofit organizations, public agencies and corporations whose skill and determination have given new meaning to their communities through preservation of our architectural and cultural heritage. These efforts include citizen attempts to save and maintain important landmarks; companies and craftsmen whose work restores the richness of the past; the vision of public officials who support preservation projects and legislation in their communities; and educators and journalists who help Americans understand the value of preservation.

THE 2017 NATIONAL PRESERVATION AWARD WINNERS:

Louise du Pont Crowninshield Award: Robert G. Stanton

The American Express Aspire Award: Recognizing Emerging Leaders in Historic Preservation: Nicole Marrocco, Charleston, W.Va.

John H. Chafee Award for Outstanding Achievement in Public Policy: Heritage Ohio, Inc., Columbus, OH.

The Trustees’ Award for Organizational Excellence: Cincinnati Preservation Association, Cincinnati, OH.

Trustees Emeritus Award for Excellence in the Stewardship of Historic Sites: Cherokee Nation, Tahlequah, OK.

THE 2017 RICHARD H. DRIEHAUS FOUNDATION NATIONAL PRESERVATION AWARD WINNERS:

Washington Hall, Seattle, WA.

SurveyLA, Los Angeles, CA.

Hamnett Place Neighborhood, Wilkinsburg, PA.

The National Trust for Historic Preservation, a privately funded nonprofit organization, works to save America’s historic places. www.SavingPlaces.org