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Canku Ota

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(Many Paths)

An Online Newsletter Celebrating Native America


January 11, 2003 - Issue 78


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Tahlequah Sidewalk Tells Cherokee History

by Sheila K. Stogsdill The Oklahoman
credits: art Sequoyah's Dream

Sequoyah's DreamTAHLEQUAH -- Generations of Cherokees have passed down stories and legends about the tribe's rich history, which has been marked often by tragic events.

Future generations will be able to learn the stories just by walking around the historic Cherokee Nation Capitol Square in downtown Tahlequah.

To honor its early leaders and to educate young people about events of the Cherokees, the tribe in 2001 commissioned 40 granite stones to be placed in a brick sidewalk at the square.

Those stones, engraved with historic events and names of the tribe's principal chiefs, continue a tradition started more than 150 years ago of teaching the young about their ancestors.

Tribe spokesman Mike Miller said the Cherokees worked with the city of Tahlequah to place the stones around the 132- year-old Capitol.

Fifteen stones engraved with the names of each of the principal chiefs of the Cherokee Nation and 15 stones marking historic events have been completed. The remaining 10 blocks will be left blank for future Cherokee leaders and accomplishments, Miller said.

Among the notable events in the Cherokee Walk of History is the Cherokees' meeting with Spanish explorer Hernando De Soto in 1540. Also represented is Sequoyah's Syllabary, a writing system of 86 characters representing syllables developed in the early 1800s.

Other events include the Treaty of New Echota in 1835, which led to the Trail of Tears, and the split of the tribe during the Civil War when Gen. Stand Watie fought for the South.

Miller said individuals were able to purchase personalized bricks that were placed in the sidewalk to honor an ancestor or provide a memorial to family members.

"Around $80,000 was raised by selling bricks," Miller said. "All proceeds went directly toward the completion of the Walk of History and for beautification of the courthouse.

"This project is a way to preserve our history in one of the most permanent and historic sites in the Cherokee Nation."

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