Just ten years after the Cherokee Nation was relocated to Indian Territory on the Trail of Tears, the Cherokee had made great strides in rebuilding the tribal infrastructure. In 1849, the Cherokee National Council turned their attention to education. The Council allocated the funding needed to build two non-denominational, secondary boarding schools – the Male and Female Seminaries.
On May 7, 1851, the Cherokee Female Seminary was opened to students. This was one of the first schools for women west of the Mississippi River and was funded entirely by the Cherokee Nation. Students at the Female Seminary took courses in Latin, trigonometry, economics, and literary criticism, as well as the more domestic sciences of cooking and tending house.
The school fell on hard times in the 1850s when funds ran low and the school had to close its doors for a few years. Then in the 1860s, the school was repurposed during the Civil War as a hospital and storage facility.
In the 1870s the school was once again opened to students and thrived until April 1887 when the Female Seminary was destroyed by fire. These columns are all that remain of that building. They are featured as part of the Cherokee Heritage Center in Park Hill.
The Female Seminary was rebuilt in a new location and opened on August 26, 1889. This second building remains as Seminary Hall, the centerpiece of the Northeastern State University campus in Tahlequah.
Photos Copyright Christina Berry, All Things Cherokee
Cherokee Female Seminary Columns Travel Details
The column ruins are featured in a fish pond on the grounds of the Cherokee Heritage Center. There is no admission cost to see the columns, but the museum admission is $8.50 for adults, $5.00 for children over 5, and $7.50 for seniors and students. The museum is Monday through Saturday 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. during the summer, and Tuesday through Saturday 9 a.m. to 5 p.m during the winter. Closed on Sundays, January 1-16, Thanksgiving Day, and December 23-26.
The Original Cherokee Female Seminary Columns are in Park Hill, just outside of Tahlequah, Oklahoma. If you’re looking for a comfortable place to stay the night, check out Expedia for nearby lodging.
Directions: The Original Cherokee Female Seminary Columns are at the Cherokee Heritage Center in Park Hill, just a few blocks east of Highway 62. For specific directions, click the “Directions” link in the location bubble of the map above and enter your starting location on the left.
GPS & Map: 35.86832562563035,-94.95776295661926