Ever since their forced removal from the Southeast to Indian Territory via The Trail of Tears in 1838, the Cherokee Nation has been centered in Tahlequah. It was here in 1839 where the survivors of the removal led by Principal Chief John Ross established a constitution for their new nation. The Cherokee Nation encompasses 14 counties of northeastern Oklahoma and is a major force in the state’s economy and political scene.
The Cherokees today welcome visitors and are eager to share their culture. In and around Tahlequah various sites are dedicated to this purpose including the Cherokee Supreme Court Museum, the oldest government building in Oklahoma, and Diligwa, a living history representation of a 1710 Cherokee village located at the Cherokee Heritage Center. visitcherokeenation.com
The region around Tahlequah is ripe with recreational activities including floating the scenic Illinois River and fishing and boating on Tenkiller Lake, said to have the clearest waters in Oklahoma.
Things to do
Cherokees passed down family heritage and culture through the custom of storytelling. The art of storytelling is being passed on through the “Stories on the Square Series” at 10 a.m. every Wednesday in June and July, when Janelle Adair and other guest storytellers will relate Cherokee lore on the grounds of the Cherokee National Capitol in Tahlequah. Free
How to get there
Tahlequah is located 272 miles south of Kansas City. Take Interstate 49 south to Joplin, then Interstate 44 south to U.S. 69 near Big Cabin, Okla. Take U.S. 69 south to state Hwy. 20 east to Hwy. 82 and then south to Tahlequah.
Where to Stay
Blue Fern Bed & Breakfast
Located near the center of Tahlequah, this restored Victorian-era home provides immaculate rooms and plenty of space to relax with a reading library and large front porch. Rooms from $110/night. 224 W Chickasaw St.
On the shores of Tenkiller Lake, the lodge provides contemporary comforts in a rustic setting and is a perfect headquarters for your getaway. Rooms from $78/night. Pet tolerant.
26247 Hwy. 82, Park Hill, Okla.
Where to Dine
Linney Breaux’s Cajun Eatery
Open for Friday and Saturday lunch and dinner this small, unpretentious place will transport you to Louisiana with its seafood boils, crawfish étouffée, fried catfish, gumbo and jambalaya. Friendly staff. 1716 S. Muskogee Ave. 918-708-9461
A cozy little lunch spot in downtown Tahlequah, known for unique sandwiches, salads, baked potatoes and homemade desserts, especially the strawberry shortcake.
319 N. Muskogee Ave. 918-456-5551