About Cherokee Strip Regional Heritage Center
The Cherokee Strip Regional Heritage Center in Enid, Oklahoma, chronicles the history of the area of land known as the Cherokee Strip or the Cherokee Outlet. With land in great demand, on 16 September 1893, the government opened up the Cherokee Strip to a land run – the biggest one in US history.
Today, the Cherokee Strip Regional Heritage Center tells the story of the area and the people who lived there including indigenous Americans and the pioneers.
Cherokee Strip Regional Heritage Center history
The Cherokee Strip was a 60 mile-wide parcel of land along the Oklahoma-Kansas border created in 1836. The US government forced out the indigenous Americans of the Cherokee Nation to cede lands east of the Mississippi River.
In a poor exchange, the US offered the Cherokee a reservation or ‘outlet’ in Indian Territory. In 1838 during the Trail of Tears, the US forced most of the Cherokees to relocate to the new lands. However, ignorant to indigenous politics and culture, the land the US offered the Cherokee was already occupied by indigenous groups of the plains who had no agreement with the US and so clashed with the Cherokee.
Officially opened in September 1975, the Museum of the Cherokee Strip was organised by the Garfield County Historical Society, Sons and Daughters of the Cherokee Strip Pioneers and the Cherokee Strip Historical Society. The groups preserved and collected artefacts from the pioneer days of the Cherokee Strip.
In 2005, a partnership with the Oklahoma Historical Society built a new facility to house the collections, opening to the public in April 2011 as the Cherokee Strip Regional Heritage Center. The new centre also became home to the Humphrey Heritage Village, a living history village that included buildings from northwestern Oklahoma and the office from the Land Run in 1893.
Cherokee Strip Regional Heritage Center today
Today, the heritage centre’s permanent exhibition retells the story of early non-indigenous settlement in the region after the Land Run of 1893, as well as the development of agriculture and oil industry. There is also a research centre on site that contains genealogical research for the area, including newspapers from 1893 to 1920, land records and maps. You can also take a tour of the Humphrey Heritage Village.
Outside, you will find a statue of a Pioneer Family by local sculptor, Harold Holden, symbolic of how for too long, the history of mid-Western America began with the pioneers, neglecting the previous indigenous nations.
Getting to Cherokee Strip Regional Heritage Center
Located not far from Oklahoma City, the heritage centre is an hour and a half drive along route 35, exiting at the route 412 intersection. There is parking on site.