By TESINA JACKSON, Reporter
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – Across from Sequoyah High School along Highway 62 in the Southgate Business Park is a small, bordered area where the Cherokee Nation has placed 32 stones to represent a cemetery that went forgotten for decades.
The cemetery, commonly called the Sequoyah orphan cemetery, began for children who attended Sequoyah during its days as an orphanage.
After the Civil War, Cherokee children were orphaned because of fighting between Cherokees. In 1871, the Cherokee National Council authorized the orphanage’s construction about four miles southwest of Tahlequah.
“All of the stones that are over at the cemetery are actually stones that were salvaged from the third floor of the Cherokee Nation jail facility,” CN Natural Resources Group Leader Pat Gwin said. The jail no longer stands, and its material is stored at the Cherokee Heritage Center. “We used that to make the rock walkways and the rock headstones.”
The orphanage also housed as an institution for the handicapped, and Sequoyah teacher Don Franklin believes that patients who died at the institution are buried in the cemetery.