ROSE, Oklahoma – After years of ongoing work to restore, preserve and modernize the Saline Courthouse, it has reopened as the Cherokee Nation’s newest cultural museum. Full of Cherokee history, the building is the last of nine district courthouses built in the 1800s by the Cherokee Nation,
“We’ve made a commitment to preserve and showcase our most meaningful sites throughout the Cherokee Nation reservation,” said Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr. “This iconic structure had been closed to the public and unapproachable for far too long, but Cherokee Nation Businesses’ Cultural Tourism team invested a tremendous amount of time, energy and care in order to recapture the glory of this building and its surrounding grounds.”
The Saline Courthouse Museum features two galleries, a video presentation room, gift shop, public space and public restrooms. One gallery features historical and cultural exhibits while the other is dedicated to showcasing a different Cherokee artist every two months, with scheduled demonstrations available to the public.
The first historical exhibit is “Saline Courthouse: Home to a Community,” which highlights the history of Saline Courthouse and its transformation to a residence post-Oklahoma statehood. The exhibit will be on display through Dec. 31.
“Vivian Cottrell: From Her Mother’s Hands” is the first in the artist gallery. The exhibit highlights the basketry of Cherokee Vivian Cottrell and showcases her mother’s influence on her art form. The exhibit runs through Oct. 24. Some artwork is available for purchase onsite.
The original courthouse was only about half its current size and had jurisdiction over all criminal misdemeanor crimes and civil suits less than $100. Following the passage of the Curtis Act of 1898 by U.S. Congress, the Saline Courthouse was forced to close. After a series of different owners, it was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1976 and Cherokee Nation regained ownership in the 1980s.
Renovations included repairing interior walls, ceilings, floors, windows and doors. Exterior renovations varied from siding and window repairs to fresh paint and trim work. In addition, the tribe modernized the building’s mechanical, electrical and plumbing, worked to ensure ADA accessibility and added new parking.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, safety procedures such as physical distancing, limited occupancy, and enhanced cleaning and sanitization have been implemented. In addition, guests will be asked to complete a brief health screening and a noninvasive temperature check. All staff and guests will be required to wear face masks.