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Historic Cherokee Nation Building To Be Rededicated

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The structure in downtown Tahlequah, which is the state's oldest public building, was originally built in 1844. The structure in downtown Tahlequah, which is the state's oldest public building, was originally built in 1844.
The latest work restored the building to its 1875 look. The latest work restored the building to its 1875 look.

By Craig Day, The News On 6

TAHLEQUAH, OK -- Renovation work is finished on Oklahoma's oldest public building.

It will open later this week, but The News On 6 went to Cherokee County to get a first look.

In Oklahoma, we're proud of our history. Now with restoration finished, the 1844 Cherokee Supreme Court Building in Tahlequah will be around a lot longer.

"We're very excited about it," said Travis Owens, Project Manager.

For three decades, the Cherokee Supreme Court Building has sat empty – vacant, maybe, but not forgotten.

"I think when they first walk in, they're just amazed at how the building kind of takes you back in time when you step back in the building," said Owens. 

After more than a year of work, the historic building is restored to what it looked like in 1875. 

It's now the Cherokee Nation's first wholly owned and operated museum, housing exhibits showcasing the Cherokee judicial system.

"This room also talks about the Cherokee Nation and their passion for self government," said Owens.

You'll also find historical displays on early Cherokee newspapers. The Cherokee Advocate was once printed there.

"The paper was printed in both English and Cherokee," said Owens.

Artifacts uncovered during the renovation work are also on display.

"We found a lot of buried treasure here, yes," said Owens.

There is the old, but also the new. Interactive displays include touch screens that teach the Cherokee language.

The renovated historic site will be included in the ongoing Cherokee cultural tourism program.

"Gives us great pride to be able to tell these stories, and then to be able to tell them in a building that can tell a story for itself," said Owens.

It's a story that is an important part of tribal and Oklahoma history built many generations ago, and now saved for many generations to come.

The Cherokee Nation will begin restoration work on the historic Cherokee National Prison in May and the National Capitol building this fall.

The Cherokee Supreme Court Building grand opening is Wednesday. It will then be open Tuesdays through Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Admission is free on the day of the unveiling. After that, admission is $5 for adults, $3 for senior citizens, $3 for students and children under 5-years-old are free. Groups of 10 or more pay $3 each.

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