October 30, 2019
New casino highlights legacies of Nancy Ward and Dragging Canoe
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – Cherokee Nation’s newest gaming and hospitality property, Cherokee Casino Tahlequah, honors Cherokee history, culture and heritage throughout the new location.
Located on Nancy Ward Drive, the new casino features a prominent theme and unique art focused on sharing the stories of the legendary Cherokee warrior turned peacemaker Nancy Ward, also known as Nanyehi in Cherokee, and her cousin and fellow Cherokee leader Dragging Canoe, or Tsiyu, and their role in the fight to preserve tribal land in the 18th century.
The Nanyehi and Tsiyu theme, including mannequins made in their likeness featuring period-appropriate clothing, continues throughout the entertainment destination and is evident in names such as the White Wolf Steakhouse and Ancient Oak Tavern. The Chota Conference Center is named after the historic Overhill town, capital of the Cherokee Nation from the late 1740s to 1788, which is believed to be the birthplace of Cherokee Beloved Woman, Nancy Ward.
“The art, history and heritage of the Cherokee Nation is beautifully exhibited at our newest entertainment facility,” said Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr. “Patrons can wander the entire facility and experience different aspects of Cherokee culture. We’ve amassed and displayed the works and crafts of master Cherokee artisans, and that collection rivals most art museums in the country.”
Tahlequah’s new entertainment destination boasts historical Cherokee artifacts on loan from the Cherokee Heritage Center. On display in the entrance of the Chota Center, historically significant pieces will be rotated to feature different archival pieces every April.
Cherokee Nation Businesses preserves and promotes Cherokee culture at each of its tribally owned properties by utilizing themes, technology and various mediums to immerse guests in Cherokee art, language and history. The new casino, located in Cherokee Springs Plaza, also honors Sequoyah, the revered Cherokee statesman and linguist who created the written Cherokee language.
The property’s 33,000 square feet of convention and meeting space displays a border depicting the original syllabary created by Sequoyah. Today’s modern syllabary was eventually created to accommodate the tribe’s use of manual typeset to print the Cherokee Phoenix newspaper. Sequoyah’s original syllabary was too looped, curvy and connected for manual printing equipment.
Cherokee Nation and its businesses rely on Cherokee artists and their works to bring an unmatched authenticity to all of the tribe’s properties. The Tahlequah location features the distinct work of 53 Cherokee artists, including Cherokee National Treasures Bill Glass Jr., Bill Rabbit, David Scott, Demos Glass, Eddie Morrison, Jane Osti, Martha Berry, Noel Grayson, Perry VanBuskirk, Richard Shade, Roger Cain, Thelma Forrest and Tommy Wildcat.
“Through the involvement of such a vast amount of artists, Cherokee Casino Tahlequah provides a great view of the depth of talent we have within the Cherokee Nation,” said Gina Olaya, director of cultural art and design for Cherokee Nation Businesses. “The entire location exemplifies our tribe’s unique and beautiful culture and offers visitors the opportunity to learn and enjoy our history, language and heritage.”
The company’s cultural art department is actively involved in the process of conceptualizing, planning and opening each CNE property. The department’s staff and art committees select each piece of art and serve an integral role in selecting culturally appropriate designs, materials, textures, colors, names and themes to ensure Cherokee culture, language and customs are represented accurately.
In accordance with tribal law, new construction and renovation projects fund the procurement, preservation and exhibition of cultural artifacts and artwork. The law calls for those funds to be used for any form of art deemed historical, cultural or traditional, including crafts, paintings, beadwork, sculptures and landscaping. It also allows for the expense of preserving, installing and displaying such art.
Cherokee Nation Entertainment is the wholly owned gaming, hospitality, retail and tourism entity of the Cherokee Nation. The company currently operates Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Tulsa; nine Cherokee Casinos, including a horseracing track; three hotels; three golf courses; and other retail operations.