Like other cities in the eastern region of Oklahoma, this town began as Indian reservations when the native American Indians were forcefully relocated to this land. Tahlequah has one distinction above other cities in Indian Territory; it is the capital city of the Cherokee Nation as well as for the United Keetoowah Band of Cherokee Indians. The origin of the city’s name is ambiguous, with some claiming it comes from the legendary chiefs that founded the original settlement, while others propose it came from another Indian name whose meaning is now lost.
The Cherokee people lived on this land long before the Europeans came to plunder it in the 1600s. This region of Oklahoma was essentially used as a herding ground to corral all the ‘undesirable’ natives to the Ozark Plateau to make way for white settlements. The Cherokee are one of the so-called ‘Five Civilized Tribes’ that are honored in a museum is Muskogee.
These days, although white European stock is still the majority, Tahlequah is a racially diverse place with small but distinct pockets of African Americans, Native Americans, Latinos and various strands of Asians. The city has grown to contain over 15,000 people and a good number of these are students, since Northeastern University has its campus here.
Northwestern University: the principal seat of post-secondary learning in the region is found in Tahlequah.
Five Civilized Tribes Museum: though located in Muskogee, this museum details the plight, survival and perpetuation of the five tribes relocated to Indian Territory, the Cherokee being one of them.