Cherokees to hold grand opening for prison museum
BY SUSAN HYLTON World Staff Writer
Tuesday, May 01, 2012
5/01/12 at 5:06 AM
TAHLEQUAH - The Cherokee Nation will have a grand opening ceremony for the Cherokee National Prison Museum on Tuesday morning.
The new museum is the tribe's third wholly-owned and operated museum.
Built in 1874 of sandstone, the Cherokee National Prison was the only prison "made to hold the most hardened and dangerous prisoners" in Indian Territory from 1875 to 1901.
It closed in 1901, but left behind a rich history of crime, punishment and notorious outlaws.
Officials said the museum will feature an "interactive kiosk" that focuses on infamous Cherokees, some of whom history treats as outlaws and others as patriots.
Visitors will be able to match punishments with crimes on a "wheel of justice," lift an actual ball and chain, search a database of Indian Territory's outlaws and read a New York Times article on Cherokee outlaw Henry Starr.
The museum also features an audio interpretation of Ned Christie's last stand against the U.S. Marshals. Christie, a Cherokee statesman, was falsely accused of murdering a U.S. Marshal.
The first "High Sheriff" of the Cherokee Nation was Samuel Sixkiller, who earned $500 a year and served as warden of the prison.
He was charged with murder in 1879.
The two-acre property included a gallows for hanging. Other punishments were whipping and flogging.
The cells were 4 feet wide and 6 1/2 feet long.
Inmates performed manual labor and were also given opportunities to learn shoe making, blacksmithing and wagon making.
The building was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1975.
The Cherokee National Prison Museum will complement the John Ross Museum and Ross Cemetery, which opened in October 2011, and the Cherokee National Supreme Court Museum, which opened in April 2010.
The tribe plans to start restoration work on the Cherokee National Capitol Building in the spring of 2013.
Original Print Headline: Cherokees debut prison museum
Susan Hylton 918-581-8381
The Cherokee National Prison Museum is the tribe's third wholly-owned and operated museum. Courtesy