By Cady Shaw
The Cherokee Advocate was the official newspaper of the Cherokee Nation from 1844 – 1906. The Advocate was used as an informational source for Cherokees spread across the jurisdiction, as well as for people outside who wanted to know about the happenings in the Cherokee Nation. In fact, in 1879 the Advocate printed a request asking its readers to share the newspaper with friends outside of the Cherokee Nation.
“If you have a friend ‘in the States,’ send him the ADVOCATE – it’s a national curiosity as well as champion of the just cause of the Indian race, where it gives pleasure to your friends abroad it will gain the nation friends and we need all we can get.”
Various kinds of information were printed in the Advocate, from the laws enacted in the Cherokee Nation to letters from figureheads to local advertising to international news. Anything considered to be of interest or importance to tribal members was printed and distributed.
While mostly used as a serious news source, the Advocate did have a local section where tribal members could write in with news reports from across the Cherokee Nation. Some of these news reports were of comings and goings of various citizens or a report on local crops. However, some items were observations and somewhat humorous, and a few were definitely odd. These examples were gathered by Cherokee Nation Cultural Tourism and turned into an exhibit entitled “Oddities of the Advocate.”
The exhibit, which will be on display at the Cherokee National Supreme Court Museum until mid-November 2017, highlights these oddities printed in the Advocate, including the following:
“Mounting the camel is not difficult, but it has some sweet surprises for the novice.” – Cherokee Advocate, May 13, 1876
“Persimmons are getting ripe and the little boys and girls and opossums are happy.” – Cherokee Advocate, Oct. 12, 1878
“If Madam Rumor has it correct there will be a wedding in our city, in the near future. Guess who it will be.” – Cherokee Advocate, Sept. 3, 1890
There are more than 40 such examples of local wit and wisdom displayed in the exhibit. To correspond with some of the oddities shown, several Cherokee artists have created or lent items to be displayed. Roy Boney, Jeff Edwards and several others have original artwork featured in the exhibit.
“Oddities of the Advocate” is on display in the building where many of these reports and oddities were originally printed. The building of the Cherokee National Supreme Court Museum held the Cherokee Advocate printing offices from 1875 until 1906. Visitors can even find their own oddities in the last 1906 edition of the Cherokee Advocate, which is available at the museum.