September 2016 Editorial Winner

Budget cuts bad for historic site
Jeff Mayo, Sequoyah County Times

News broke Tuesday morning that longtime Sequoyah’s Cabin curator Jerry Dobbs was retiring, and due to state budget cuts, the Oklahoma Historical Society was closing the Sequoyah’s Home historic site northeast of Sallisaw.
Word was circling Wednesday and Thursday that the Cherokee Nation would be buying the Sequoyah’s Home property and re-opening it. This may be true, but we would expect much better organization and handoff if a deal was done. Did the state run out of money before they were finished negotiating?
It is difficult to overstate the importance of Sequoyah and his home. It is a unique tourist attraction. The fact that the state thinks so little of it that they would let it close, even for one day, is an atrocity.
In just a few years alter Sequoyah’s Cherokee syllabary was adopted by the Cherokee Nation in 1825, the Cherokee people’s literacy rate passed that of the non-Cherokee settlers.
Not only is a statue of Sequoyah in the state Capitol, there is a statue of Sequoyah in the National Statuary Hall Collection in the U.S. Capitol in Washington, DC. It was given by the State of Oklahoma in 1917 and was the first statue honoring a Native American chosen for the collection.
A building named for Sequoyah at 2400 North Lincoln in Oklahoma City is part of the State Capitol grounds.
It’s the name of this county, yet the state can’t find a way to pay for the home of the man who single handedly invented a written language.
We sincerely hope this mess comes to an acceptable conclusion. Sequoyah’s Cabin should remain under the Oklahoma State Historical Society, which has done such a wonderful job with it through the years because it is of significance to all of Oklahoma, not just to those of us who live in his namesake county.
In fact, the home is a National Historic Site. It is of importance to all America. As such, the Oklahoma Historical Society was the logical agency to administer it, although we think it would have made a wonderful National Monument. The national and state historical organizations have much broader resources and contacts than any other entities.
But that is apparently not to be. Fortunately, the Cherokee Nation has an interest in it too, so if it can’t be run by the National Park Service or the state government, the tribe would be the next logical organization to run it.
The pitiful irony of this current failure of the state to fund one of its premiere historic attractions is the fact that the Sequoyah’s Home site was established in the 1930s in the depth of the greatest economic depression in the state’s and nation’s history.
The people who made this possible all those years ago recognized the importance of the project and acted accordingly. They didn’t let the inconvenience of the Great Depression get in the way of doing the right thing.
In contrast, recent legislative sessions have refused to face their responsibilities to properly fund even basic governmental services and obligations. We are diving to second-rate status as a good place to live.
Not being able to fund the historic home for which your county is named is a terrible step down for Sequoyah County and especially Oklahoma.

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