Bacone College

McCoy Hall (left) and Memorial Chapel stand on the Bacone College campus in Muskogee. The Osage Nation has agreed to charter the school as a tribal college. MATT BARNARD/Tulsa World file

More than a year after Bacone College temporarily suspended operations, the Osage Nation announced that it will charter Oklahoma’s oldest college.

In a news release Wednesday, the Osage Nation announced that Principal Chief Geoffrey Standing Bear has signed a resolution to charter Bacone College as a tribal college. Bacone College President Ferlin Clark and members of the Osage Nation Congress attended the signing.

“This is part of our commitment to the education of the mind and spirit of our people,” Standing Bear said in the release.

Bacone College, in Muskogee, announced its closure May 8, 2018, facing more than $2 million in debt. The private college reopened in August after cutting programs, reducing faculty and selling property.

Clark said in the news release that the school hopes to build upon the Osage Nation charter with other Oklahoma tribes.

“We are thankful that the Osage Nation has joined us in our goal to form a consortium of Oklahoma tribes to transition Bacone College into a Tribal College,” Clark said. “This movement of becoming a public, tribal college allows tribes ownership in the education of students while building capacity to gain stable funding from the federal government in fulfillment of its trust responsibility to educate American Indian students.”

The United Keetoowah Band of Cherokee Indians in Oklahoma also has a recently approved charter agreement with Bacone, and last month the Tahlequah-based tribe hosted a Bacone enrollment event.

Bacone was chartered in the late 19th century by the Muscogee (Creek) Nation.

The campus remains located on Creek Nation land, but the tribe established its own tribal college in Okmulgee in 2004.

More than half the students at Bacone, which is also affiliated with the American Baptist Church of the United States, identify as indigenous.

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Staff Writer

Stetson covers breaking news, general assignment and other stories. He previously worked at the Enterprise-Journal in Mississippi. He is from Broken Arrow and graduated with a journalism degree from Oklahoma State University. Phone: 918-581-8466

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